The TV ad, created by Bartle Bogle Hegarty, featured a giant Canton trade fair and the line: “Right now, somewhere in the world, is a great business opportunity. And no one can fly you to more of them, direct from the UK, than British Airways.”
The Advertising Standards Authority received a complaint that the ad was misleading because it implied that BA flies directly to Guangzhou, which it does not. BA said no airline flies direct from the UK to Guangzhou but that it ran 14 flights per week between London and Hong Kong and also flights to Beijing and Shanghai.
BA says the purpose of the campaign was not to promote any individual event or specific route but to “demonstrate the diversity of events that took place all over the world and to promote the fact that [it flies] to more destinations direct from the UK than any other airline”. The Canton Fair represented the biggest business opportunity in China, said the airline.
The ASA says the ad would be understood by consumers to mean that BA flew directly to the Canton Fair and, because it did not, the watchdog banned the ad, deeming it misleading. The ad formed part of a wider TV campaign, the airline’s first in two years, which aimed to fight the “staycation” trend by highlighting exciting events around the world.
The advertising watchdog also banned an ad campaign by BT Vision claiming that it runs new films before they appear on BSkyB, following a complaint from the satellite broadcaster.