Heathrow taps into the ‘Love Actually‘ effect with first TV campaign

Heathrow Airport is using its first ever TV campaign to make an emotional connection with consumers as it aims to tap into the Love Actually-effect.

Heathrow Airport is launching its first TV campaign, as it looks to create an emotional connection by reflecting stories of why we use the airport. The ad features a five-year-old girl making her way through the airport for her first flight and ends with the tag line ‘To the next 70 years of flight’ in celebration of Heathrow’s 70th anniversary this year.

The TV ad, which is set to David Bowie’s ‘When I Live My Dream’ and was created by Havas, is part of a wider campaign that focuses on customer stories through digital, print and outdoor campaigns. It will roll out through the summer and focus on departures. The airport brand’s winter campaign will continue with customer stories but focus on arrivals and customers flying home around Christmas.

The summer campaign’s core demographic is families, with its TV release on Thursday (21 July) timed to coincide with the start of the school holidays and before summer holiday travellers set off from the airport.

Through real customer stories, the wider campaign uses emotive strategies to connect with its audience, while the TV ad specifically aims to make viewers reminisce over their own first flight and the experiences they can have at the airport.

Rebecca White, head of marketing and brand at Heathrow Airport, told Marketing Week: “Our customers see themselves in the little girl’s journey and everyone remembers their first flight”.

White believes that airports in general can be seen as “rational” places and are not always part of a “conscious choice for customers”. However, she says Heathrow’s research over the past 18 months suggests its own customers feel otherwise.

“From research, we have found that Heathrow is not seen as just an airport but offers customers a change in life or marks the end to one of their biggest life journeys,” she explained.

“We’ve had such an emotive part to play in customer journeys, including our role in Love Actually 13 years ago. This showcased a genuinely emotional moment Heathrow can own and should be demonstrating.”

Rebecca White, head of brand & marketing, Heathrow Airport

The brand campaign comes as Heathrow continues to campaign to have a third runway built at its airport as the Government looks to expand the UK’s air traffic capacity. Although White would not comment on the plans, there is a clear link between boosting the brand among consumers and the expansion plans.

While there is some support among the business community for the third runway, many members of the public are yet to be convinced due to concerns over pollution, noise and disruption.

As for Brexit, although airlines such as British Airways and Ryanair have raised concerns about the vote to leave the EU, White believes it is important Heathrow continues to celebrate its anniversary and focus on a more customer-centric model. She also said that Brexit has not impacted this summer’s business.

“We will continue to watch [Brexit] in the coming months, but for us there has been far more business than usual and we are finding more inbound travellers seeing the UK as an attractive destination, owing to the changes in exchange rates,” explained White.

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