Live blogging from the Future of Social Media Conference: Chris Davies, British Airways at 3.00pm

(FILE) British Airways ...


Chris Davies, digital marketing manager, British Airways.

What were the brand objectives and what has he learnt from the experience? What he is not going to cover is where social media is going. His presentation is how you can use some of these tools for a traditional brand. Three examples.

1 Viral campaign with Pam Ann – she is a stand up comedienne who can be quite rude. So the idea? Five very short clips which are then seeded separately, encouraging real cabin crew to take part. Indeed the four BA cabin crew are real ones. It gave us a chance to get

  • in contact with new people,
  • get our staff involved and
  • communicate the quality of the service

Many BA people saw Pan Ann as off-brand and possibly more appropriate for Virgin. Script had to go through four or five changes. Some BA colleagues did not even know what a viral campaign was. So a problem here – how to explain that the script had to be whacky enough to work as a viral campaign if people did not know what viral was!

The result – one million views in six weeks. Five thousand referrals to BA’s job site and £700K worth of media exposure and lots of other sites linking to it.

2 The Caribbean challenge – intention was to educate people into what was BA’s offering in Caribbean, reach a new audience and gather data. The solution was a rich-entertainment website with a series of games and puzzles which aligned with a particular Caribbean island. People were encouraged to include details of those they might take with them and therefore allow BA to acquire further data.

Figures were around 120,000 visits to site and 30,000 entries to the competitions.

3 MetroTwin – BA certainly feels it owns the NY-London route so why not a site that emphasises those links? So partnered with 35 groups in both cities and then encouraged people to make their own recommendations ie you like a restaurant in New York, why not make a recommendation for London?

Objectives were again to reach new audiences, cement BA’s position as number one airline between both city and also give a value-add to customers. Used agile method to get project into beta form in eight weeks. But the biggest challenge was legal – what right do you have over such content and what set up for moderation. So get a lawyer involved early on.


  • How do you get UGC through custodians of the brand? You have to explain to colleagues that this is the way the world is going and it is better to be in than out.
  • Have now commissioned another Pam Ann viral campaign. Were senior guys happy to work to create an app’ for iPhone? Our IT team were quite happy with that.
  • What resources did you need for seeding a viral campaign? BA talked to people in Caribbean to see whether they would be interested in working with them.
  • Did you feel at risk going on your own with MetroTwin? Why not Dopplr? Spoke to existing customers first of all and felt that MetroTwin was sufficiently unique.
  • Will such social media get people to talk about BA in a different way? Absolutely, because it will deepen relationships with existing customers but also get out to new people.
  • BA is a huge global brand so questioner can understand sensitivities. But what was the major legal concern? Engage legal team as quickly as possible because it was new to us. Ended up outsourcing moderation. Also, concerns about content if it covers hotels with which they have partnerships.
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