Magazine article Marketing

GREAT BRITISH BRANDS: BA - Stung by the PR Disaster Created by Its International Livery, British Airways Has Struggled to Shake off Its 'Britishness'

Magazine article Marketing

GREAT BRITISH BRANDS: BA - Stung by the PR Disaster Created by Its International Livery, British Airways Has Struggled to Shake off Its 'Britishness'

Article excerpt

Harbouring the ambition to be a global player can be tough if you have a name and a brand you believe ties you to a bygone age and a domestic image.

For many years, British Airways was one of Britain's best known world brands, but five years ago it decided it wanted a more cosmopolitan image.

In a blaze of publicity it announced a pounds 60m rebranding that replaced the national flag on its livery with designs from around the world. The aim was to reposition the national carrier as an international company.

The plan backfired horribly. The tailfins became a public relations disaster, with the press, passengers, staff and Margaret Thatcher all turning their fire on BA.

Eventually the airline was forced to retreat and repaint its planes, bringing back the union flag. Try as it might, BA has been unable to jettison its 'Britishness' as it seeks a more international brand. One reason is that its brand is inextricably linked with the development of commercial air travel in Britain.

In 1919, under the name Aircraft Transport & Travel, it began flying the first daily international service between London and Paris, from Hounslow Heath, west London. Only one passenger could travel on the flight, which also carried newspapers and food. The company was renamed Imperial and, by the mid-1930s, was flying to key international locations such as France, Germany, Egypt, the Arabian Gulf, India, South Africa, Singapore, West Africa and Australia. British Airways was the name of a much smaller competitor that entered the market during the 1930s. The government didn't want either to be forced out of business, so it merged and nationalised them in 1939 under the name British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). This concentrated on long-haul flights, with British European Airways serving the European market.

BOAC and BEA eventually merged in 1974 to create British Airways.

The 1980s marked a turning point for the business and the brand. Lord King moved in and, by slashing staff numbers, piloted the loss-making airline to profit.

The Thatcher government privatised BA in 1987 and praised the company for its enterprising spirit. The airline developed close links with another dominant force during the Thatcher decade - Saatchi & Saatchi. The agency created some of BA's most memorable ads, which included the slogan 'The world's favourite airline'.

When, in the mid-1990s, the Saatchi brothers were forced out of the agency they had created , BA was among the clients that went with them to their new agency M&C Saatchi. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.