BA injects 100m to spur brand recovery

British Airways will invest more than 100m in new products and launch four new ad campaigns in an attempt to market its way out of the doldrums.

British Airways will invest more than £100m in new products and launch four new ad campaigns in an attempt to market its way out of the doldrums.

The national flag carrier aims to reconnect with consumers after a horrific year in 2006 but faces fresh upheaval with the newly announced departure of global head of brand and marketing Jayne O’Brien.

In an exclusive interview with Marketing Week, O’Brien says: “Admittedly we scored some horrible own-goals last year. But BA believes it can help itself by focusing on the brand”.

O’Brien says BA will recommit to the customer service philosophy for which it is famed. Last year’s £100m investment in Clubworld (MW February 21, 2006) will be equalled with spending on an audio-visual digital entertainment system installed throughout the entire fleet, a relaunch of first-class cabins and the redesign of all existing BA lounges.

A brand campaign, produced last year by Bartle Bogle Hegarty but delayed until external controversies blew over, should launch alongside three other campaigns focusing on price, products and corporate social responsibility, this year.

But O’Brien’s departure may place the long-awaited campaign under threat again. BBH group chairman and worldwide creative director John Hegarty says he was “stunned” by the news of O’Brien’s departure on Monday, and adds: “I expect the campaigns to be used but the uncertainty is a concern.”

Last year saw the resignation of commercial director Martin George for his department’s role in an alleged price fixing scandal, the grounding of flights in the summer due to a terror scare and another 800 cancelled flights at Christmas because of fog. BA also made headlines for suspending a member of staff for wearing a cross around her neck, and traces of the radioactive polonium 210 – linked to the death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko – were found on some of its aircraft.

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