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By Amit Bapna | APAC editor-at-large

March 14, 2023 | 5 min read

India remains one of the UK's most important markets for inbound travellers, so it's no surprise that it is one of the most important for British Airways.

Next year British Airways will celebrate 100 years of flying to India. It’s a significant landmark for the iconic airline and for the populous market, which is the brand’s second-largest market behind the US, and one of the most important.

Ahead of this anniversary, The Drum spoke to Moran Birger, British Airways’ head of sales and marketing for South Asia, the Middle East and Africa about the importance of India to the brand and how the UK's national airline is hoping to engage Indian travellers.

In the post-pandemic world, Indian travellers are on the move. The UK is one of the highest-demand markets out of India, and British Airways – along with a host of rival airlines - is keen to tap into this demand.

Last year, Indian nationals accounted for nearly 30% of all visitor visas for the UK - making them the highest proportion of granted visa holders.

Birger told The Drum, the airline has already seen growth in business and leisure travellers from India and is currently operating 56 flights per week from five Indian cities - which is higher than its pre-Covid flight frequency of 49 flights.

It's also ramping up its branding and marketing to engage these travellers and ensure they choose to fly BA, over Virgin Atlantic or Air India.

For its latest global campaign ‘A British Original’, the airline created a dedicated made-for-India version featuring the airline's Indian crew as the cast.

The localised version is a sign of the nation's importance to the brand, which also created a localised version of the ad for the US market. The UK campaign has been a huge success in its home market and the brand is hoping for a similar response in India.

The ‘A British Original’ campaign uses the memorable question used by immigration forms and workers when arriving in the country, "what is the purpose of your visit?" to explore the possibilities and reasons that people choose to travel.

Shares Birger, “As the UK’s national flag carrier we needed to reinvigorate BA’s market positioning in a way that would win trust, drive brand preference and create demand for our premium experience.”

The campaign aims to inject more positivity and excitement into flying with British Airways and help reposition the brand away from the perception that it is a legacy brand instead of a future-ready youthful brand.

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"This campaign is a celebration of our people, our customers, and the UK, which has helped make the airline brand, a British Original, both in the UK and here India", Birger says. To celebrate its people, actual members of the crew flying from India were cast in the campaign.

The ‘A British Original’ brand platform was designed to travel the world and resonate both at home and abroad, says Birgen.

The latest campaign taps into the long-held ties between Britain and India, which continues to provide the brand with a lot of emotional heartlands. British Airways has a long history of engaging, emotive advertising that mines the two countries' entwined history and people, as evidenced by its award-winning A Ticket to Visit Mum campaign (below)

Marketing Brand Strategy British Airways

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