Hitting brand image issues head-on: BA Terminal 5

The disastrous opening of Heathrow Terminal 5 back in March provoked a frenzy of negative media coverage. Lost bags, canceled flights, malfunctioning lifts… it seemed that everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

5 months on and BA is now confident enough that it has sorted out its £4billion baby. The problem is one faced by several brands I've worked with: perceptions lag reality. People, including me until a week ago, still think T5 is crap. To address the negative image hangover T5 still has, BA has launched an innovative "real-time" ad campaign using press and radio, to report on the actual performance on the previous day. Its called "Terminal 5 is working".

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I like what BA are doing for several reasons:

1. Builds on a truth: hey, I'm a sausage guy, as regular readers will know. Product/service is king. And this campaign is all about dramatising the great customer experience you now get at T5, such as check-in time of 8 minutes and security check-though time of 5 minutes.

2. Real-time makes it feel real: the ads are very specific about when the data was gathered, and with how many people. The ad above says "748 people, yesterday, between 6am and 2pm". I like the way they even address a question about why they stopped at 2pm by saying "We had to stop at 2pm so we could make this ad." Nice.

3. Reinforces positive experience: I happened to fly into T5 last week, when the campaign broke. The experience was pretty amazing. Our bags were coming off the belt when we arrived for the first time ever at a UK airport, and only the 2nd or 3rd time at any airport in the world. Time from plane to taxi was not more than 15 minutes in total. The next day I then heard the radio ad, and read another in the Times. This tripple whammy worked a treat to re-wire my brain from "T5 is shit" to "T5 is great". 

4. BA know they can't rely on new coverage of success: one of the things that stinks about the media today is that cock-ups get saturation coverage, and success is welcomed with deafening silence. There are no headlines now about how well T5 is working, so BA need to do it themselves. 

Bravo BA. T5 truly is superb, from the speed of service desribed above, to the super shops and range of food options on offer. I'm now dying to go back in business class so I can check out the lounges!