Winging it with the creative

I’m not sure I can make head or tail of the current British Airways advertising campaign. One poster shows a street vendor rustling up some food on hot plates and runs with the headline “You can’t smell a city from a coach”. Quite why this is an argument in favour of plane travel in general – or using BA in particular – is beyond me. You can’t smell a city from a plane either, guys. In fact, it’s probably necessary to alight from any form of transport to gain full olfactory satisfaction.

The proposition is clearly that travelling by coach prevents a passenger from experiencing everything a destination has to offer. You’re whisked from place to place, with no time to explore on foot. Fair enough. But the dramatisation of the idea fails miserably at a logical level. If you wanted to explore London on foot, you’d be hard pressed to do it from Gatwick. Unless you’d packed a few blister packs and had a couple of extra days to spare.

Same idea done better: we see bewildered people staring out of blurred coach windows as they hurry through bustling city streets. Even now, we still encounter a logical problem. If the target audience decides coach travel is unsatisfactory (and they may simply favour it at the moment because it’s cheap), they can still choose to go by car, ferry, train or some other means of transport.

No, it’s back-to-the-drawing-board time, folks. I’m afraid I smell an ad concept that just doesn’t work.

© Phil Woodford, 2008. All rights reserved.

Phil Woodford lectures in copywriting and creative writing at University of the Arts London.