A tale of two marketers – more ads from Kraft, broadcast silence from British Airways

Well they’re in different businesses aren’t they? Food and chocolate at Kraft and flying people around the world at British Airways (ash clouds and industrial disputes permitting).

But Kraft, like many of its peers in the FMCG sector is increasing spend on advertising (moving up the sales percentage spent on ads from six to eight per cent) even while it’s facing problems of its own including raw material hikes which will add roughly $1bn to its costs this year.

BA, on the other hand, is hardly spending anything and losing marketers at a rate of knots. Head of global marketing Kerris Bright is the latest to exit, heading for the sunlit uplands of bathroom fixtures firm Ideal Standard. She’s just the latest in a long list, most notably one of her predecessors Jill McDonald who took voluntary redundancy in 2006 only to ship up as marketing director of McDonald’s before being appointed UK CEO, in which role she has already won lots of plaudits.

And we’re still waiting for that blockbuster campaign from Bartle Bogle Hegarty which won the BA account from M&C Saatchi way back in 2005, the same year as BA CEO Willie Walsh joined from Irish carrier Aer Lingus.

Could these two events possibly be related?

BBH types get very annoyed when the absence of said campaign is noted, pointing out that the airline has had numerous issues to deal with in the intervening years, like the aforementioned ash, seemingly endemic industrial disputes with associated cancellations and a stonking worldwide recession.

They’re far too discreet to mention that another problem has been the fact that they never know who the client is, as they keep leaving.

Also Walsh has had other matters on his mind including dealing with a ballooning pension deficit and (more positively he hopes) finally securing a merger with Spain’s Iberia to form International Airlines Group (IAG).

But there’s a feeling abroad that Walsh doesn’t like this big (and expensive) branding stuff even though departing marketer Kerris Bright says there’s a big campaign in the offing.

Now that the merger has been secured another question for the poor old agency is who, precisely, will the campaign be for? BA? IAG? ‘IAG, the world’s favourite airline’ doesn’t really fly. Nor does the world’s newest airline.

BA seems to be working on the assumption that its passengers will always return if only it can get its bloody planes airborne with someone to pour the gin and tonics.

Kraft, despite (or maybe because of) its status as the world’s second-biggest food company after Nestle appears to take the opposite view.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.