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The World's Favourite Airline

The World's Favourite Airline

August 05, 2013

How BA finally got it right.

My earliest memories of BA while growing up in Bombay was the BA ad referred to as the BA Face Advert.  The most striking thing is its sound track "Aria on Air" by Malcolm McLaren, a recording of The Flower Duet from Léo Delibes' opera Lakmé, which has stuck in my head forever and will always  be labelled in my memory as the BA theme song.

Just like the Titan advertisements in India which adopted Mozart's 25th symphony as their signature theme track. That was what twenty years ago? And finally after all this time, BA has come up with this ad / nay a five minute clip, in the tradition of the best (or worst as you may see it) reality TV programming tradition ever. Without giving it all away, the ad unabashedly tugs at the heart strings of immigrants like myself, tracing the journey home and how it feels to surprise your parents with a sudden visit.

The ad film, I warn you is unabashedly sentimental. It is cheesy, it capitalises on the surprise element, and plays on the age old mother-son relationship drama, yet I confess it pulled at my heartstrings, and brought tears to my eyes. It was simply the genuine reaction of the mother that got me.  I and many others like me who have made a home away from home in another country, will see our own mum’s in her. The nice thing is it is not a 30 second commercial. It is a five minute situation film, and it takes the time to set up the characters, and even though you know where it is heading, when the climax breaks, the unstaged reactions captured on screen are what make it. (I will leave you to watch and judge for yourself.)

In real life, my husband made a similar surprise visit, this last year for his parent’s fiftieth wedding anniversary, and to mark the release of his book. He flew from London to Calcutta with the first copy of the book in his hands to surprise them. His mum was so totally bowled over that her child could be such a good son, that she burst into tears and did not stop sobbing for a good half hour.  I have also made surprise visits, though not on such joyous occasions, when a favourite aunty passed away. I was in Moscow on work, and cutting short everything, did a round trip Moscow-London-Mumbai-London in just three days. The cost didn’t matter or the inconvenience. It was about being there for closure.

It took only twenty odd years, but  BA has finally got it together with an ad that makes you look beyond its aging fleet, its matronly (sometimes brisk but always efficient) stewardesses, its overcrowded economy class travel seat which has become an annual hallmark of sorts to mark the December trip back home.

By humanising its air miles to heart miles and putting an emotional spin on the moments spent alone up in the air on the annual visit home, which is the only face-to-face meeting I often have with my family in the 365 days of the year, BA eventually did get to the heart of the matter.

What do you think? Do you have similar instances when you surprised the folks back home with a sudden visit? Do write in and tell me.

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