Monday, February 08, 2016

British Airways’ love is unnecessary, unbelievable

Here we go again. There’s a new ad and it’s got lakhs of views on YouTube and everyone seems to love it – and I don’t.
The ad is the new British Airways six-and-a-half minute commercial, ‘Fuelled by Love’. “In this ad, British Airways gives us a simple, beautiful story about falling in love with India. England and India have always had a complicated relationship, but British Airways just sent a love letter to India on Britain’s behalf. It’s the simple, true story of flight attendant Helena Flynn, whose generous nature led to a connection with an even more generous Indian grandmother,” gushes Adweek, a leading and respected publication focused on advertising.
As I read praise all over the place, I try to decode what makes me reject this ad. The ad is well produced and directed, the casting seems perfect, the dialogues are delivered effortlessly, the accents are real, and it’s a syrupy-sweet story with a happy ending.
The happy ending is my first reason for rejection. When you’re about a minute into watching this spot, you can predict precisely how the story ends, reducing the need for you to watch for another five-plus minutes in this attention-deficit world we live in.
The second reason for rejection is far more important – the believability.
Even a cynic like me finds it easy to believe that the commercial is, indeed, inspired by a true incident. But if the intended message is to suggest that Indian passengers will find the cabin crew on BA flights as warm and friendly as the attendant we see in the film, it doesn’t work for me. It’s not just BA. It’s the category. Check out Google for ‘British Airways racism’ or ‘Lufthansa racism’ or ‘United Airlines racism’ and so on. The results do not make for happy reading.
In most cases, it is the individual who has racist leanings, not the airline – and that’s the problem. The attitude of an individual is all but impossible to monitor or guarantee – and that makes one question the cornerstone of the BA film.
08/02/16 Anant Rangaswami/The Hindu

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