British Airways, “The World’s Favourite Airline,” was about to offer a new service: the only daily nonstop flights between Denver and London. The client gave three of its “favourite” U.S. agencies two weeks to provide a “sheet of themes.” The chosen theme would become the platform for all communications announcing the event.
The British are famous for a polite civility as well as an outrageous sense of humor. In an astounding display of the latter of these traits, they decided it would be good for the agencies to present their creative work in front of each other, with each agency free to critique the others’ ideas. (Come to think of it, our immediate contacts at the client are Yanks. We, of course, are known for our love of competition and the World Wrestling Federation.)
Three agencies presenting to the client together in one room. It was war, albeit a Civility War.
Our agency’s positioning line is “The creative marketing agency that delivers the unexpected. Strategically.” And that is just what we set out to do.
Our AEs, planners, and creatives banged out theme after theme. Then, rather than composing a copy sheet, which is what the client requested, we created full-color creative boards with graphic support for our favorite themes.
On the appointed day our agency presented first, surrounding the large conference room with wall-to-wall alternative themes and graphics. The other agencies had taken more conservative approaches.
Ultimately the client was so impressed with our agency’s extra effort that we were awarded planning and creative assignments for all below-the-line activities, including promotions to travel agents as well as corporate and consumer events.
We went to work nonstop again, developing a black tie celebrity event at the Denver Natural History Museum, a travel agent event at the Denver Art Museum, a sales blitz with trade giveaway events, laptop sales presentations, and collateral materials.
The results? One is that British Airways flights on the Denver-to-London nonstop route have been fully booked since they began.
The moral? Be civilized, but be competitive. And always deliver the unexpected.