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BA used Virgin plane in £20m advertising campaign

BA used Virgin plane in £20m advertising campaign

British Airways spent ­£20million on a new promotion campaign… only to realise a TV advert contained a shot of a rival Virgin Atlantic plane.

» Airlines - UK | Sunday, September 25, 2011 • Air News Times
British Airways spent ­£20million on a new promotion campaign… only to realise a TV advert contained a shot of a rival Virgin Atlantic plane.

Embarrassed bosses ordered an ­emergency edit of the 90-second ad – which uses state-of-the-art computer-generated images to plot the airline’s history – after a member of staff spotted the blunder just a day before its official launch.

One shot, centred around ­the company motto To Fly. To Serve, shows a row of three British Airways Boeing 747s docked at a terminal. But the nearest displays the ­serial code G-VGAL – the marking of a Virgin Atlantic aircraft based in Manchester.

Insiders say CGI experts had placed BA’s livery over the plane ­belonging to their competitor while making the ad and forgot to ­remove the Virgin jet’s unique code.

The error was picked up by an eagle-eyed engineer when the ­company proudly showed the ­“Aviator” commercial to ­thousands of employees at a preview last Monday. Bosses ­immediately ordered ­advertising agency BBH, who filmed the ad, to erase the ­mistake.

By the time it was unveiled to the press the following day and launched on TV on Wednesday, the Virgin code had been ­replaced.

A BA source said: “The mistake was highly embarrassing – especially as Virgin Atlantic are BA’s prime competitor.

“Great pride had been taken in the detail of the advert, and the fact that so much money had been spent on it.

“Thanks to the quick thinking of one of the engineers they saved the blushes of all the senior management at BA, as well the advertising company.”

To add further embarrassment, BA chiefs had lavished praise on the advert’s ­ ­director Frederic Planchon on the 92-year-old company’s Facebook page, saying: “His ­attention to detail is second to none.”

Last night a BA spokeswoman said: “No version of the ad showed any aircraft in the livery of another airline.

“The ad is complex and richly detailed, and its production involved an extensive editing process. This process had not been ­completed by the time we needed to send preview DVDs to our workforce.”

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