Client: bmi british midland
PR Team: BSMG Worldwide/In-house Team
Campaign: launching bmi british midland
Timescale: October 2000 - February 2001
When british midland became bmi british midland on 1 February, there was substantial danger that it would become another 'new logo' story.
Coming only weeks after two high-profile - and much-debated - corporate identity launches (Accenture and Consignia), there were clear pitfalls.
bmi's campaign was to be about more than simply a new logo or a new aircraft colour scheme. The launch marked the culmination of a two-year business re-engineering programme, during which the airline had made significant changes, including new management, new routes, new aircraft and membership of the Star Alliance to prepare for entry into the long haul market.
The launch had to communicate the scale of these changes to external audiences.
The launch had to show more than a new logo, and provide proof that the airline had changed. It had to position the brand as the most significant step in the airline's mission to become a global carrier.
Media leaks and speculation in the run-up to launch during December and January complicated the task, with the changes variously described as 'ditching the British', 're-affirming the British' and 'watered down'.
Also in December, a sharp-eyed photographer at Airbus's Toulouse facility snapped the first rebranded aircraft taking off for a test flight a week before launch - this coincided with an unplanned leak that gave the name away.
These events raised the risk of anti-climax at the official launch - and it became even more critical that this convinced audiences that a real change was taking place.
The launch strategy would therefore give audiences - the media, customers, staff and opinion-formers - the opportunity to hear about and see the new airline. It was hoped that guests would leave in no doubt that they were seeing a new force in global aviation.
A pre-briefing for key national journalists was followed by three large-scale launch events, staged in bmi british midland's Heathrow hangar.
A series of unveilings resulted in a walk-around set, in which guests could try the new in-flight seating, food, entertainment and business lounges.
In addition to drawing in hundreds of journalists and other guests from the UK, Europe, the US, Canada and Australia, the audience was extended by a live webcast to staff, customers and the airline's Star Alliance partners.
Broadcast and print interviews were staged throughout the day and a 'fire-fighting' team responded immediately to incorrect reporting. PA's initial reports claimed the 'British' was being downgraded, despite a new 15-foot Union Jack flag on the tail-fin, so an immediate correction was issued.
Measurement and Evaluation
Extensive media coverage focused visually on the plane with 29 images appearing in 28 national newspaper and internet articles.
Critically, this was supported by the business change story, with 75 per cent of the early coverage reporting the airline's global ambitions. Broadcast coverage on CNN, Sky and the BBC further reinforced bmi british midland's message.
The campaign successfully drove home the key themes of the airline's new focus.