19 June 2012
British Airways will launch a controversial marketing campaign this morning urging Britons to stay at home during the London Olympic Games this summer.
Launching at 11:00hrs exclusively on Facebook, the advert will tell Britons: "Don't Fly. Support Team GB". It will be followed by a TV commercial during tonight's Euro 2012 match between England and Ukraine that is expected to be watched by millions.
BA described the ad as "tongue in cheek" but it seemed likely to cause a further headache for outbound operators who were infuriated earlier this year by a government campaign to persuade Britons to holiday in the UK this summer.
However, ABTA did not appear antagonised by the BA advert that could potentially dissuade holidaymakers from travelling during the summer peak. An ABTA spokesman said: "Everybody in the industry is fully behind team GB at both the Olympics and Paralympics. The incredible domestic demand for Olympics tickets has shown that there is very little danger of our athletes lacking home support.
"Our own research show that the public are divided between those who at one extreme, have changed their holiday plans to stay in the UK and at the other, those who are leaving the country to actively avoid the games. Whatever customers choose it will be a summer to remember."
Details of the BA ad have been kept under wraps until this morning's launch, but it features a BA plane taxiing off the runway, out of the airport and through London to the Olympic Park to the soundtrack of London Calling by The Clash.
As the aircraft arrives at the Park, it features the tagline "Don't Fly. Support Team GB and Paralympics GB".
BA will repeat the message in national newspaper and on outdoor posters and on social media sites, including Twitter where it will use the hashtag HomeAdvantage.
In an online version of the ad, users can input their postcode and watch the aircraft taxi down their street.
Frank van der Post, BA managing director of brands and customer experience, said: "We"re rallying the country to get behind Team GB and ParalympicsGB to capitalise on home advantage. Whether it"s delaying your summer holiday, finding where to get behind the country with our "best sports bars abroad" guide, or cheering them on at Park Live at the Olympic Park - we are encouraging every extra clap and cheer we can get."
By Linsey McNeill