I have always loved this British Airways adfrom way back in the 1990s.
Others can talk about the way the ad is made, the casting of PJ O Rourke etc. I want to talk about why I think it was made.
I think it all comes down to consumer insight. That dreaded, dreadfully over-used phrase.
This ad wasn't aimed at everybody thinking of flying that year. It was aimed their specific premium, frequent flying audience:
'British opinion formers who are highly cynical, speak loudly over other people at dinner tables and express their opinions as fact. Unlike every other country in the world who talk up national success stories, they delight in knocking them down'.
What a great observation about the British! And how true, it doesn't matter what subject you're on, if you're British, you'll be suspicious of success; anything that's done too well. We love underdogs, we celebrate cheerful failure.
So if we have a communications challenge of making influential British opinion formers proud of British Airways, feel good about it, rather than knocking it's success...what was the business challenge?
This to me is all about justifying BA's price premium, creating emotional involvement and longer term loyalty. Much more commercially effective than promotions. Make feel good about spending money with you and you won't have to continually bribe them. Despite what many will tell you, reducing price sensitivity is rarely about delivery of facts, it tends to be about emotional, communicating the brands r'aison detre in a compelling way.
BA was a great British success story, they has sheer bigness, world wide success, that would make any normal country feel proud and want to join in with.
That's where the clever communications strategy at once identified the barrier and the opportunity. With this audience, showing off will work against us, not for us. But if can get to the heart of this, find a way to make the conversation ABOUT this very British habit, we can not only overcome the barrier, we create all that pride, loyalty and, ultimately, price premiumness we we're looking for. All we really have to do is laugh at ourselves a bit.
What do you think? Does that make sense?