Stories In The Air: 5 Ads From British Airways

Content is king but for kings to be effective, they need to be relatable and relevant. Example: Joffrey Lannister, unreachable, aloof, unattainable, and ultimately, not a good king.

On the other hand, there’s Jon Snow, King in the North, elected by the people because his sufferings, story, and mannerisms were relevant to their kingdom.

This Game of Thrones example may seem far-fetched, but it’s actually very applicable here. To be relevant and liked, your content needs to be crafted for the people. Especially if you’re a brand that’s not attainable for everyone, like British Airways. A relatively luxury brand, BA can be taken as royalty in the world of travel and tourism. And for everyman to understand them, their content needs to be fitting to the stories people tell each other every day or at least want to hear every day.

So what did they do? They created a content strategy that focuses on human storytelling in a way that you’re instantly taken by them, and to prove my point, I have five ads that we’re going to be talking about today.

The welcome of home

Let’s be honest here; we’ve all, at some point, been excited beyond belief to go to the airport to pick a relative visiting from abroad. There’s always a thrill in the air and a tear in the elder’s eyes. Being a family-focused society, this culture is very common in a sub-continental household, which includes India. And that’s the base of the story being told in this video, where they’re reuniting with one of their members coming home after a long time.

If you have a family member who lives abroad, you’ll know that this is a story of every time you’ve gone to the airport to receive them.

The theme of this ad is warm, it’s understandable, and it just hits you right where the creators intended to because they know that while here it’s British Airways telling you their story, you’ve lived it at least once, twice, or maybe more times. This instant connection makes you remember the story long after you’ve turned the ad off, and that’s why emotional and human advertising grabs attention better than anything else.

Flying the nest

Parents. The ultimate emotional beings. To be honest, any content piece with parents in it is likely to be emotional to the T with its Baghban-esque vibes, and this ad from British Airways is no less. Telling you a story of a Chinese student who worries about her parents back home, the video has your attention from the very beginning. I’ll let you watch before I go on.

Everyone loves a good surprise story, that’s why “celebrity surprising fan” videos are such a hit on YouTube. And when the surprise is emotional like this one, the impact is phenomenal. And it achieves two goals:

1) It makes British Airways seem like it’s for the people, a very important positioning strategy that keeps them grounded (no pun intended).

2) It gives you a reason to connect with a brand that you may never even contact in your life.

This is what I was talking about with my Game of Thrones example. The content you create needs to be done so to develop an association with the people in one way or the other; either by creating a sense of pride that yes, this is a brand I have used and am connected to, or by providing an aspiration that I may not be connected to this brand today, but I aspire to be their customer someday because they seem like they care. That’s how content, and kings, become successful.

A brand that cares is the one that matters

Human content doesn’t mean standing in front of a camera and saying a few lines for the audience. Human content is… human. It encompasses everyday stories of everyday people that you can care about. It’s showing people that the brand cares about their audience, and these two videos do that exceptionally well.


The first video tells you a story of a survivor whose first flight after his accident is an achievement in itself. And the second tells you a terminal cancer patient’s story whose dream came true with British Airways. Both of these are warm and happy, showcasing the “humanity” of the brand. That’s a well-executed human-centric strategy and one that brands like these should create to be remembered for something aside from their services and quality.

And last but not least…

Being a Freddy Mercury and Queen fan, I had to plug this one in. Yes, it is a movie promotion, but look at the excitement of the people involved in it (and mine, writing about it). When you’ve been positioning yourself as a brand for the people, you obviously take into account the aspects they’ll find most soul and vivacity in not only for recall but also to create conversations and virality, and what’s better than a flash mob-ish act on one of Mercury’s hits to do a viral campaign?

It’s no doubt that BA’s content is definitely a step above the rest and a great example of human-centric content creation that a lot of brands miss. Which ad was your favorite from the above? Tell us in the comments.

Zainab Abdul Rehman

Content and strategy specialist with a head full of ideas that I never get time to execute.

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