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Taking flight during the festival of light: behind the British Airways Diwali campaign

British Airways ‘The Best Gift’ Diwali campaign

Over almost two years, people have been unable to travel and meet up with their loved ones. However, with the ease in travel restrictions and high rates of vaccination, airlines brands are getting ready to go back into the market. The Drum looks at what went behind the making of British Airways’ ‘The Best Gift’ Diwali campaign

As international borders start opening and the world gets ready to travel again, British Airways has launched its brand campaign, ‘The Best Gift’, ahead of Diwali in India. The film, conceptualised by Ogilvy India, is based on the insight of people wanting to be reunited with their loved ones, especially to celebrate festivals.

The comeback of travel in the post-pandemic world

While festivals are the time for families to be together, the pandemic had changed all that. Amid frequent lockdowns and sealed borders, travel had become a tough task in the last year. After a long wait, with increased vaccination and a reduced number of cases, countries have started allowing travel. Against this backdrop, the national carrier of UK has launched the film that narrates the story of a young man wanting to buy a suitable gift for his family for Diwali and how he ends up giving his family the best gift, a surprise visit to his family.

The objective of the campaign was two-fold, shares Moran Birger, head of sales, South Asia, Middle East and Africa in a chat with The Drum, “to give unsure flyers, an inspiring and emotional reason to fly to their loved ones and to make British Airways the first airline that comes to their mind when thinking of travel.”

Creative task - make a global brand culturally relevant

The airline brand has been engaging in conversations with the Indian audiences for the past few years, as a way of establishing a strong link in the customers’ minds between British Airways and the cultural things that they value the most with some of the ">previous campaigns as well. Shares Birger, “this approach has been at the core of our strategy and the high levels of engagement that we have experienced are testament to our success.”

With the world opening up its borders again, British Airways saw Diwali as the perfect occasion for them to reunite with loved ones, and the creative brief was “to help trigger this realization in last-minute flyers and help them make the journey home”, shares Ritu Sharda, CCO, Ogilvy India-North.

Timing of the campaign to solve a business challenge

In the last two years, travel has been far from people’s minds, and it has been one of the most impacted businesses in the post-pandemic world. As the world is gradually opening up, brands are slowly getting back to business and hoping to make up for the lost time. Explaining the timing of the campaign, Birger shares, “People are still evaluating the pros and cons related to travel and the aim of the campaign was to give unsure travellers a compelling and emotional reason to help them make their decision.”

Many customers are in a rational frame of mind and a lot of factors like flight prices, quarantine regulations etc. play an important role in decision making. To make the decision making easier for them, BA has even launched special fares from the five cities in India to London, adds Birger. In addition, British Airways’ existing online Covid hub includes information on flexible bookings, testing and what the British Airways flying experience looks like for those that haven’t travelled for some time.

Taking the globally relevant message beyond India

With the film’s universal message of homecoming, BA has plans to run the film in its other markets including USA and Canada. Says Birger, “these markets have a large diaspora of Indian audiences who will relate to the theme and would hopefully be motivated to plan a visit to their loved ones during the festival.”

Adds Ritu Sharda, “for this campaign we have drawn on more current sentiments to give it a fresh and more relevant take while staying true to the brand values.

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