British Airways 'Don't Fly, Support Team GB'

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  • Don't Fly, Support Team GB


A nation unsure of itself, a brand lacking mojo.

‘I hope that healthy scepticism will not tip over into unhealthy cynicism because as a nation we have an opportunity we have to seize.’ Tessa Jowell, Culture Secretary

It is hard to believe it now, but for some time the success of the London 2012 Games was in question as a sceptical British public doubted both their value and feasibility. This effect was particularly felt outside London in communities where the Games had a less visible presence.

At the same time, British Airways was facing huge challenges from both low-cost airlines and the perceived superiority of other long-haul carriers. The brand had lost some of its luster, even on home soil. London 2012 was a huge opportunity forBritainto reposition itself in the eyes of the world. Publicis Groupe’s challenge was to take this opportunity to reposition British Airways.


Proud of Britain, proud of British Airways.

The Games would bring to the UK a summer like no other – a summer of celebration and community. The agency’s insight work showed that whilst there was some initial cynicism surrounding the Games, with every day that passed the negative feeling fell away to be replaced by optimism.

Publicis Groupe’s solution was to deliver a campaign that would demonstrate British Airways’ proud support of Team GB and re-build an emotional connection with a nation gripped with patriotic, Olympic fever. Only by delivering real engagement with the UK population could they hope to cut through. If this could be built across an iconic creative approach Publicis Groupe would stand a chance of restoring pride.

The brave solution the agency adopted was to tell the UK population to eschew their usual summer holiday and not to fly during the Games period. Rather, they urged Britain to stay at home to support Team GB. BBH’s iconic TV commercial for the campaign showed a plane taxiing along the runway before turning off through London’s streets and finally stopping at the Olympic Park.


Involve the nation in an epic and iconic event.

The agency launched the campaign using high impact TV ‘Spectacle Spots’ that deliver conversation starters for consumers. These were backed up through 4-page wraps on London titles showing the iconic picture of a BA plane taxiing over Westminster Bridge. PR was generated through a massive picture of Jessica Ennis painted onto a field on the flight path into Heathrow. All communications used #HomeAdvantage and encouraged the public to tweet and post their support for Team GB.

The campaign was activated through digital and social media using homepage take-overs, targeted sports display activity, a reach block with log-out page and daily promoted posts on Facebook, and promoted tweets on Twitter. This was all backed up by an influencer programme to help amplify the effect.

However, the key to the success of the campaign was the simple, scalable interaction mechanic. To deliver real engagement consumers were given the opportunity to see the British Airways plane taxi past their own house. This was delivered through a technical partnership with Google Streetview, where users entered their postcode into British Airway’s Facebook application to recreate the agency’s iconic campaign next to their own homes. This simple personalised experience with built-in sharing mechanics fuelled huge amounts of brand buzz.


BA beats Coca-Cola to gold

Engagement allowed the agency to punch significantly above their weight. As the nation entered the final weekend of the Olympics, British Airways was the most talked about non-global sponsor.

The campaign delivered over 170 million Facebook impressions and over 6,003,193 online views of the TV ad. Nearly 10% of all UK Facebook users participated in the event. BA generated over 5m engagements with the ‘plane down your street’ application, and over 500,000 engaged with its Facebook posts. Facebook describe this activity as the most successful engagement mechanic they have seen on the platform.

BA’s Facebook posts also delivered much higher engagement than the likes of Adidas (19 times greater) and Coke (35 times greater). In the week prior to the Olympic Opening Ceremony, Social agility measured BA as the second most effective sponsor across social media. British Airways was consistently in the Top 4 (out of 25) and was the top performing non-Global sponsor.

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British Airways
Brand Owner:
British Airways
United Kingdom
June - September 2012
Media Channel:
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