Uncommon’s first campaign for British Airways has 500 different executions

A year after wrestling the British Airways account from WPP, Uncommon’s first campaign positions the airline, its staff and customers as “A British Original.”

Each of 500 different ads asks, “What is the purpose of your visit?” and – after the traditional “business or pleasure” options – includes a third box to tick, which allows for a more personal response.

Reasons for travel include “Stag do;” “Pray for me;” “French boys;” “Donatello, Michelangelo, Parmigiano;” and “To put a few times zones between me and the annual report.” New ones, including more topical responses, will be added over time.

The TV work is pretty low key, with a series of 30-second spots in which customers and staff give their own answers to the central question. They are being shown in prime time slots on ITV, Channel 4 and Sky.

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Working with MG OMD, executions have been adapted for different media, and will vary according to location, time of day, weather, and what’s happening in the news.

For example, the scale of the Piccadilly Circus site allows for a stunning image of an infinity pool (“Wrinkly fingers”), while a tube poster cries out for better air quality, and a newspaper shows two ads facing each other, each with a conflicting point of view.

Hamish McVey, head of brands and marketing at British Airways, said: “Every time a customer boards a plane, they are doing so for a unique reason, and we know that those journeys are so important. We are working hard on making positive changes across our airline and this brand campaign allows us to showcase our motivation, which is our customers and our people.”

Lucy Jameson, co-founder at Uncommon Creative Studio, said: “We wanted to celebrate British originality at a time when we’ve never needed to rediscover it more. ‘A British Original’ champions people, not planes… but this is just the beginning. We hope that, going forward, each and every interaction with the brand feels as original as each and every one of the hundreds of original executions we’ve produced for the launch.”

Uncommon’s customer experience division is taking the “British Original” campaign beyond ads. This will include creating menus focused on British provenance, and a new safety video starring BA staff alongside some well-known British talent.

British Airways has returned to health this year, making profits of more than £1 billion, while pay disputes with check in-staff and pilots have been settled – but the rise in fuel prices and a recession will mean that Uncommon’s job is a challenging one.

It’s a strong campaign idea, although it’s a “stealth advertising” move that won’t have the impact of Ogilvy’s last big TV campaign, a centenary ad which featured Olivia Colman, Gary Oldman, Grayson Perry and Anthony Joshua.

But then you don’t always have to go big — probably BA’s most talked-about campaign of recent times was the Russia 2018 World Cup social media post, which optimistically issued a ticket from Moscow to “Home” for a passenger named “Football.”

MAA creative scale: 7

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