Virgin runs campaign in BA territory at Heathrow

Virgin Atlantic is launching a direct assault on rival British Airways after buying ad space at Heathrow’s Terminal 5. The airline will have three billboards in the BA long-haul lounge to promote the “relative speed” of its check-in service.

The year-long campaign will launch on March 27, when the terminal opens to the public. It is part of a £6m advertising push for Virgin this year.

A Virgin spokesman says: “When the terminal opens, BA will clearly stand for ‘bussed around’. I’m sure many of the passengers will wish they had gone with Virgin.”

Virgin, which flies from Heathrow’s Terminal 3, claims that its Upper Class Wing is “far quicker and seamless” compared to BA’s Terminal 5. The airline adds that its own terminal has won awards for being the fastest check-in, as well as the best business-class lounge, through independent body Skytrax.

Manning Gottlieb MD handled the planning for the campaign. The advertising is through RKCR/Y&R and the poster company is PSI. JCDecaux has the contract to sell the ad space in Terminal 5.

A BA spokeswoman says: “Virgin may have some temporary ad sites at Terminal 5, but we have Terminal 5.”

The rivalry between the two airlines intensified in 1991 when Virgin moved the centre of its operations from Heathrow to Gatwick, in direct competition with BA. The two airlines were also involved in a court case in 1993.

JCDecaux owns all of the billboards in all of BA’s seven airport terminals. Terminal 5 was set up to accommodate BA flights only, even though it also uses Terminal 3. BAA and JCDecaux have invested approximately £25m in Terminal 5’s digital technology.

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