Is the real point of the new BBH British Airways campaign to cosy up to the pilots and cabin staff?

It’s taken British Airways and agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty (which won the account from M&C Saatchi back in 2005) a hell of a long time to produce a big new brand campaign but its new offering ‘To fly, to serve’ has been pretty well received.

It’s a lovely thing to look at and tugs at the heartstrings but the emphasis on British Airways as was (BOAC and intrepid pilots before that) doesn’t seem to say all that much, yet, to contemporary customers trying to fight their way through London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports.

But BA has been bedevilled in recent years by a series of disputes with pilots and cabin staff which have, from time to time, grounded its planes. Even the most loyal, price-resistant business class customer gets a bit pissed off by this.

So this, really, is surely a paean of praise to those staff it’s been falling out with recently and who, presumably, it now wants to be friends with.

Many commentators have remarked on the contrast with Virgin Atlantic’s blingy 25th anniversary ads which cheerfully revert to presenting the gals in red as sex objects (as we used to say in 1986) although if you tried anything on now you’d no doubt be forcibly imprisoned in the overhead locker while the plane returned to base.

As for BA, the line for the campaign, ‘To fly, to serve’ has caused some comment too; my chum Stuart Smith thinks it’s all a bit ‘Allo Allo’ in that it refers back to wartime RAF slogans.

But if the aim is to cosy up to the troops (while giving the customers a nice warm feeling) maybe it does make sense.

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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.