BA prepares for world of content-driven marketing

British Airways’ top marketer Abigail Comber says its communications strategy is changing to meet the needs of consumers “who don’t want to be sold to or advertised to”.  

British Airways
BA wants to develop new approach to customer interactions to meet the needs of consumers “who don’t want to sold or advertised to”.

Comber, talking to Marketing Week after the airline’s recent agency announcement, says that the landscape has changed dramatically “in how people consume messages and content” since the last time the airline reviewed suppliers.

Comber points out there is now a very thin line between television ads and Youtube videos . She says BA wanted a new agency model to meet changing customer behaviour in a world where content is as much “owned” by brands as traditional media owners.

“It’s about making sure we are in the market for delivering content –we want to make sure people want to consume [our content] and do not think they are being sold at or advertised to.  For us it is about telling the right story at the right time in order to get he right result.”

She adds that the consolidation to fewer agencies for BA is “sensible and right to get a single and consistent message into the marketplace at every touchpoint.”

BA has just reappointed BBH to its business and the agency will now handle loyalty and digital marketing alongside advertising.

However, to meet the airline’s view of customer interaction, BBH has formed a joint venture with digital CRM specialists Hall & Moore that will see one aligned team sited in one location “with a shared set of commercial objectives”.

BA launched its “To Fly. To Serve” marketing strategy in 2011 and Comber says the positioning remains “the heartbeat” of its communications.

The strategy underpins BA’s loyalty drive and Comber adds that loyalty is “very much now about a two-way conversation – it’s about being understood as a consumer.”

Simon Hall and Warren Moore are founding partners of agency CHI and recently set up a consultancy called Seven Seconds. Hall has worked on BA’s loyalty scheme The Executive Club in the past.

Previous clients of the pair at CHI include RBS, The Times and Talk Talk and they have been working with Waitrose.

BBH CEO Ben Fennell says that marketers “have been wrestling with this issue of a new model for some time – the one stop shop versus connected specialists  – and this is an exciting new play for BA and the [ad] industry.”

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