Campaign India Team
Sep 12, 2013

‘We’re turning a corner’: Christopher Fordyce, British Airways

Takes to TV in second largest market India after seven years; customisation on menu, entertainment, ‘Meet and Assist’ at Heathrow on cards

British Airways has embarked on a global ad campaign, building on its motto adopted in 2011 as the key communication message: ‘To fly. To serve.’

An ad film as part of the campaign created by BBH London is currently airing on TV in several markets, including its second largest market, India. The brand is on TV in India after seven years.

Other legs of the campaign that runs until October include cinema, press, digital, outdoor media and social media.

The film follows a passenger’s journey from the airport as he checks in and through his flight, to the point where he is received with a warm hug at his destination. The shots alternate between detailing the high-end technology that drives the flight and aids his experience, to the larger than life visuals of the aircraft cruising through the sky. A sewing machine that matches steps with the passenger as he walks into the airport to board his flight, finishes stitching the logo of the airline onto the fabric, as the film draws to an end. A female voice over surmises, ‘To pioneer. To engineer, To innovate. To imagine... To fly. To serve. Today. Tomorrow.’

Q&A with Christopher Fordyce, regional commercial manager - British Airways South Asia

Speaking with Campaign India, Fordyce explained that the campaign follows the brand’s stated commitment to invest £5 billion on customer products and services till 2017.

“We’re turning a corner. This is part of the new brand that we’re bringing to the market. We’re making a huge amount of investment and also telling the market that this is the new British Airways,” he added.

On the Indian market, Fordyce said, “India is our second largest international market after North America. We now fly to five cities here with 46 flights a week and are also seeing an increase in volume, so we’re getting bigger planes into the market. We’re seeing the returns on additional investment made in the market in terms of double digit growth.”

Staying premium

The spokesperson explained that a key area of focus for the brand is premium travel, from both the corporate and non-corporate segments. SMEs are another area of focus, as are HNIs.

“British Airways has one of the biggest proportions of any airline of premium capacity, whether it is first class, business class or even premium economy. Premium economy is seeing high double digit growth in India. To explain the benefits of that upgrade too, we’ve initiated several marketing efforts,” said Fordyce.

Defined as a ‘Premium Airline’, the TG is never going to be the ‘ultra price sensitive’ consumer, he underlined, when asked about price conscious Indian consumers.

“There is a large volume market and we may not go after that. We’re not just a full service carrier; we’re a premium service carrier. But we don’t aim to be an expensive carrier – we are competitive,” he added.

Noting that the brand has invested in providing a product and service that consumers see value in, and are willing to pay a relative premium for, he said, “There are a lot of loyal customers who see the value proposition.”

Among other things, the airline has invested in the timing of its flights, network of destinations and lounges, armed with feedback from customers.

Customisation for Indian flyers

Investments in CRM are leading to more innovations and product customisation. At British Airways’ exclusive terminal at Heathrow (T5), there’s a ‘trial’ on just for Indian passengers, revealed the spokesperson. A ‘Meet and Assist’ programme is underway since the last month, calibrated to assist premium and new passengers from India.

“A part of the CRM analysis led us to figure how we can Indianise a part of our products, without losing the British-ness that we stand for, and are appreciated for,” explained the airline’s commercial head for South Asia.

The conscious effort has extended to in-flight entertainment, where the plan is to add more Bollywood content later this year. Flying from five Indian destinations, the airline has tried to focus on a regionalised menu too. Given that most flyers from India are enroute to North America, the plan is to extend the experience beyond the London stopover all the way to the final destination.

Online sales and the travel agency

Given the premium positioning of the brand, the agency channel still contributes over 50 per cent of ticket sales in India for British Airways. Multiple channels for ticket sales are to offer passengers choice, ranging from a call centre to online booking and travel agents, said Fordyce.

He surmised, “People do reply on the agent to be an advisor. We have seen an increase in .com (online) ticket sales, but I always think there is going to be a role for the agency, particularly from a corporate point of view.”
Film Credits

Agency: BBH London
Director (Film): Martin Krejci
Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle
Music: Ludovico Einaudi [Experience (Starkey Remix)]

Campaign India

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