BA digital billboards interact with aircrafts flying overhead

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This case appears in the December 2013 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly report by and Simpliflying, which identifies the latest innovative marketing campaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more »

British Airways has worked with Ogilvy’s digital arm 12th Floor to custom-fit digital billboards with surveillance technology that detects and activates the billboards when the airline’s flights pass overhead.

Located in Piccadilly Circus and Chiswick in London, when the billboard ‘detects’ a BA flight flying below the clouds that is visible to passers by, a child starts running, pointing up to the sky – chasing the airplane. The billboard then updates to reflect the flight details, like “BA flight 475 from Barcelona”, along with a URL Onlookers can then go online and view destination details and ultimately make a booking.

The flight messages are accompanied by other relevant messages to the flight, that will also help promote the points of difference the airline offers, such as ‘Fly the new A380 to Los Angeles.’, or details such as the lowest fare available or the temperature at the destination.

Abigail Comber, British Airways’ head of marketing, said: “This is a first, not just for British Airways but for UK advertising. We all know from conversations with friends and family that we wonder where the planes are going and dream of an amazing holiday or warm destination. The clever technology allows this advert to engage people there and then and answer that question for them. “We hope it will create a real ‘wow’ and people will be reminded how amazing flying is and how accessible the world can be.”

The online video of the billboards in action has now gone viral and has already amassed 750,000 in less than 10 days, becoming an advert in itself. It has been supported by a microsite and the hashtag #lookup.
The viral success of the BA campaign has also generated a spoof responses from Domino’s Pizza in the UK, called #lookdown.


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