BA’s top marketer to depart

British Airways’ top marketer and architect of the 2012 Olympics and ‘To Fly to Serve’ led brand renaissance, Frank van der Post, is to leave the company next year to become chief commercial officer of Dutch technology firm KPN.

Van der Post, who led brand management and customer experience efforts globally and sat on the carrier’s board, takes up his new role on 1 April.

He joined BA at the start of 2011, less than a year after the company had posted its biggest ever loss in the wake of the global recession and strike action by cabin crew that had a pejorative effect on the airline’s reputation.

His joining, however, coincided and partly inspired a renaissance in the brand’s fortunes, firstly through the launch of umbrella brand campaign ‘To Fly to Serve” in the Autumn of 2011 and lauded activation of its tier one sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympic Games, which saw counter intuitive ads pleading with people “don’t fly” and stay in the UK to support British athletes.

Brand renaissance

The impact of this and other customer experience enhancements has been spectacular. According to YouGov’s BrandIndex, the brand’s Index score – an average of six consumer perception measures including quality, value, reputation and satisfaction – currently sits at 38.9 putting it top of a list of 26 carriers. Four years ago it sat towards the bottom.

There have also been bottom line improvements. BA reported operating profit of €607m in its latest quarter, compared to €477m in the same period last year, in keeping with an upward trajectory over the past four years.

In a statement confirming his departure, van der Post, declared himself “proud” of such achievements, adding he was leaving with “confidence the brand will continue to go from strength to strength”.

“I am confident the brand will continue to go from strength to strength”

Frank van der Post, outgoing managing director of brand at BA

Next steps

It is not yet clear what BA plans to do to ensure a smooth succession. When asked whether he will be replaced either directly as managing director of brands and customer experience and marketing’s voice on the board or whether there will be a redistribution of responsibilities, a spokeswoman says the company “had no update”.

His departure will leave director of brand and customer marketing Judy Goldfarb and head of marketing Abigail Comber among the most senior marketers at the carrier.

For van der Post, his move back into a wider executive role is in keeping with his experience pre BA when he held positions including chief operating officer at Jumeirah Group and vice president of Intercontinental Hotels’ business on the east coast of the US.

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