British Airways’ plane detecting billboards showcase the magic of flying #lookup

Once in a while, there comes a marketing campaign that takes your breath away. You wonder, “how did they do it?” This is one of them.

British Airways has put up a  billboards in Piccadilly Circus and Chiswick in London that respond to their planes flying overhead. When the billboard “detects” a BA flight flying below the clouds, 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.

British Airways has worked with the agency Ogilvy 112th Floor to custom-fit the billboards with surveillance that detects only when their flights pass overhead, and activates the billboard. Watch the billboard in action in the video below:

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.”

Well, it’s a great story, and it surely reminds me of my childhood, when I’d point up and run after an airplane. And brings out my inner #avgeek, when I still look up, and try to identify the airline and flight details.

While British Airways still needs to work on their social media strategy, they certainly have nailed their last few traditional marketing campaigns – first with Visit Mum, and now this #lookup campaign, to bring back the magic of flying. The latest campaign certainly seems to have caught the attention of Twittersphere.


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