Saturday, 23 June 2012

BBH new British Airways commercial for the Olympics. Work like this only comes along every 20 years. Magnificent.

Now this brought a tear to my eye as it should for ever self-respecting adman. It's a long time since I saw a budget spent on a brand like this since the last big BA "face" commercial, "the world's favourite airline" in 1989. And what I mean by that, is a refreshing commitment to building brands by British Airways and putting their money where their mouth is.

The 1989 "face" commercial did wonders for Saatchis at the time and of course, Director Hugh Hudson and it's at the end of this blog (90" version). This will do the same for BBH - not that they need the applause - because they've proved themselves so many times over. But just for the pride.

What a terrific piece of work this is.

Firstly, it's ideal for the London Olympics and as every brand tries to capture the passion of the event, none will do it as well as this. None. It's the perfect commercial for the perfect brand at the perfect time. Great opportunity with timing.

Secondly, could you ever write a better headline than "London Calling" for BA? Ever? It's a superb line that has heritage. 

Apart from the great Clash (a true, die hard working class punk London Band), it was the title of their third album which Rolling Stone declared as the best album of the 1980's. A Joe Strummer and Mick Jones signature song and it's hard to believe that Joe (real name John Mellor, born in Turkey - swear to god) is dead 10 years.

The track will also remind some Brits of "Germany Calling" the infamous Lord Haw Haw nazi propaganda broadcasts in WW2 from 1939-45.

Those Brits that do remember will make the connection and realise the entendre (it's actually how the song was inspired) thereby, further playing on great days in Britain. So it works across the generations.

But I guarantee you, because of the commercial, "London Calling" will become the anthem of the London Olympics meaning every time it's played, BA will be remembered.

Trust me too, this is not my post rationalisation, this has all been thought of and worked out by the Agency.

(By the way, people still think Lord Haw Haw was Irish. He wasn't. He was American but lived in Ireland and was hung for treason by Britain. Which has been argued as a great miscarriage because you can't commit treason against a country you weren't born in. Anyway, hardly a great loss)

Thirdly, look at the strapline. "Don't fly". Ever see that on an airline commercial? Imagine what bravery it took to get that through. Imagine standing in front of the client and arguing that "don't fly" should be on a British Airways Commercial? Even the suit who did that, deserves mention here. 

What it actually means when you get over the contradiction, is, stay at home to support the British Olympic Team which engenders pride..... But, if ever you're thinking of flying, well, BA is here. Magnificent.

Lastly, look at the pics. Bring planes onto landmark streets (Big Ben) and show how much a part of the fabric BA is. And how convenient, easy it is. Look at the turbulence seat belt gag as the plane follows a London Black Taxi over a road speed bump. And then think how that will work on outdoor, print - a plane on your own street. Great idea.

And by the way, this commercial was premiered on Facebook and not terrestrial TV. Just after WPP's highly paid 67 year old Shorty Sorrell questioned the role of Social Media for brands last week. Wouldn't you think an Adman, albeit an Accountant, would eventually stop this nonsense? 

And why was the commercial launched on Social Media? Because it would be passed around instantly - which it was. Hard to get that free viral reaction on TV Mr. Sorrell without passing around TV's. Don't you think? And don't you think the people who work in your Agencies Mr. Sorrell get that? And want to hear their Accountant owner supporting Social Media since they all now claim to? 

It possibly comes as no surprise that the commercial was created by John Hegarty's BBH whom I've met many times and this certainly is a reflection of their glory days (Levis, Audi). I mean that with affection - they are the stunning UK agency of the last 20 years (started in 1982 and I visited those small offices when they did) who took the "legends" mantle from Agencies like CDP, Saatchis and ABM. I truly hope they get every inch of credit they deserve for this. BBH’s creative directors Justin Moore and Hamish Pinnell worked on the ad with producer Natalie Parish according to Campaign.

ZenithOptimedia handled the media planning and buying, while OgilvyOne and 12th Floor handled digital activity. 

And the client at BA, an airline run by Irishman Willie Walsh, deserves every bit too, for being brave enough to go with it. I hope their planes are full forever.

If ever I wanted to be involved in a piece of work, and I've been involved in a few, this would be it. Without doubt.

Lastly, I can't leave it without the other great BA Commercial from Hudson and Saatchis. Probably never to be overshadowed because of its magic.

But I'd think even Hugh Hudson would hold his hands up and say, "you know what, maybe it just has". Maybe it just has.