Video nostalgia: The TV ads of British Airways – The world’s favourite airline

British Airways is one of the world’s most recognisable airlines and at 93 years, one of the oldest. The radio call sign for British Airways is Speedbird, based on the stylised icon of the airline’s predecessors, Imperial Airways and BOAC, and probably best symbolised by Concorde.

The airline has naturally relied upon and continues to rely on history and nostalgia for the “feel good” factor in its advertisements. The musical theme predominantly used is The Flower Duet by Léo Delibes. Yanni’s Aria is a variant.

One of the most famous series of advertisements by the airline were with the tagline “The World’s Favourite Airline” which debuted in 1989 with the famous “Face” advertisement, considered one the best TV ads of all time, and also one of the most expensive.

The above ad is the one revised in 1994 to show the new uniforms. The original 1989 ad can be viewed here. British Airways finally dropped the tag-line 12 years later in 2001 when it was superseded by German flag carrier Lufthansa in terms of passenger numbers.

Other ads of this era include the Island ad, and the Cry When Happy ad. One of my favourites from this genre is the “Rebecca” ad which touches upon human characteristics. One can only wonder where those wonderful human touches have disappeared to, in today’s rushed world of air travel.

In 2007 the airline adopted a new tag line “Upgrade to British Airways” but still retained the musical theme.

British Airways also “Indianised” their musical theme in their ‘Namaste India‘ ad which targeted the emerging upscale Indian tourist market.

In September 2011, to maximise its 90 years of operations, British Airways rolled out its “To Fly. To Serve.” ad, the airline’s largest TV campaign in almost a decade.

This year, to celebrate the London Olympic games, British Airways have released an ad titled ‘The Race‘.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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