Edelman was appointed to support the launch of BAA’s new Heathrow
Express check-in service at Paddington station. Billed as the world’s
largest city centre terminal, the service offers 27 check-in desks,
representing 19 airlines including British Airways, American Airlines
Travellers can check their bags in at Paddington a minimum of two hours
before departure, receive their boarding card and hop on the Heathrow
Express for the 15-minute journey to Heathrow.
The opening, held on 23 June and attended by Minister for Transport
Helen Liddell and BAA chief executive Sir John Egan, coincided with the
first anniversary of the express service.
To achieve awareness of the check-in service in the UK and abroad and to
create the perception that Paddington is a world class departure and
Strategy and Plan
Edelman’s brief was to create a high quality, high profile event which
would generate interest from the international press, invited guests and
A month before the launch, the agency began regular contact with key
media, sending countdown releases containing essential facts about the
new service and launch event.
To further stimulate interest, three teaser postcards were sent on
consecutive days echoing the Andy Warhol style of the advertising
campaign and reiterating the main selling points of the new service.
Two weeks before the opening, Edelman negotiated a profile piece on
Heathrow Express chairman Alan Thomas in Sunday Business, followed a
week later by a feature on Heathrow Express’ marketing strategy. Local
media were invited to cover a story about Olympic weightlifter Precious
Mckenzie spending a day showing 60 new baggage handlers how to lift
The day before the launch, a 16-page sponsored supplement on the service
appeared in the Evening Standard.
Transport Minister Helen Liddell unveiled the new check-in facilities
accompanied by pyrotechnics and dramatic music. Representatives from the
airlines then stepped forward to take part in a photocall.
Around 250 people attended the event, including 45 from the media, plus
commercial partners of Heathrow Express and Railtrack and political
Sir John Egan and Alan Thomas were both available for interview, and
guests could experience the new service for themselves.
Measurement and Evaluation
London Today and Meridian Television attended the event and ran news
stories on their main bulletins. The Wall Street Journal and USA Today
carried interviews. Altogether, there were 12 items in national papers,
including the Times, Guardian and Mail on Sunday, 17 in regional media,
and more than 50 in international media, including CNN and the Los
Trade coverage was also considerable, both at the event and in the weeks
preceding it, including Travel Trade Gazette and ABTA Magazine. On-line
coverage included Associated Press, PA News, MSNBC, Foxnews, CNN
Interactive and Boston Globe.
Edelman’s evaluation shows that all key messages were achieved and the
client is reported to be very pleased.
No targets were set for passenger numbers, but the client has said that
the number of people using the check-in service is satisfactory.
The volume of coverage achieved was commendable, particularly
internationally and in light of the fact that Railtrack had organised a
similar event the week before and that Sir John Egan had been
extensively interviewed when BAA announced its results a couple of weeks
The teaser campaign and glitzy launch certainly helped generate
coverage, and also conveyed the brand image.
Client: BAA Heathrow Express
PR Team: Edelman PR Worldwide
Campaign: Launch of check-in service at Paddington
Timescale: April - June 1999