I love clever advertising. Nothing makes me want to poke my eyes out more than droll pedestrian adverts that haven’t an iota of thought or creativity behind them. Even simple messages can be conveyed cleverly. Just ask anyone who’s seen a Nando’s ad.
And what I hear from friends in the industry is that advertising is getting more subtle than ever before. It’s less about buy-this-for-that-price, and more about engendering affinity and trust for a brand. Love the brand and you’ll pay – within reason – above the going rate for a product you know and love.
And this extends into the travel industry too. Although South African Airways actually has a pretty good on-board product, they haven’t been at all good in communicating that, or making me love the brand.
On the other hand... British Airways has had a strong brand for years, but at times they’ve fallen behind in terms of on-board product.
That's starting to change though, and the airline is spending hundreds of millions of pounds revamping what you get when you step on board. There’s a new First class cabin, and both the World Traveller (economy) and World Traveller Plus (premium economy) cabins are getting an overhaul. As that’s where most of us travel, it’s good news for flyers heading to Europe.
But despite falling behind in the bells and whistles game, one thing the airline has always done well is cleverly keep the brand front of mind. If I played you the signature music used by British Airways, I’m willing to bet anyone over the age of 30 would be able to tell me it’s the BA tune.
And the reason I’m rambling on at length about all of this? Well, that’s because they did a rather fun little flash-mob at Heathrow recently. Travellers sitting quietly in departures had some unusual music accompaniment which I thought was a rather fun way to make travellers love your brand. And happily, unlike ACSA's airport radio, it was a one-off stunt rather than a daily aural assault on flyers. If only more airlines added a touch of whimsy into making us buy seats on their big aluminium tubes.
And while we're on the subject of airport stunts... although it wasn’t British Airways, the BA terminal at Heathrow hosted this memorable flashmob organised by phone operator T-Mobile in 2010. It never – ever! – fails to bring a smile to my face.