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Over the past decade, advertising by airline companies has markedly increased across television, social media, billboards and other channels in the UK. Major carriers like British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair have launched bold new campaigns to capture consumer attention and spending. This surge reflects a fiercely competitive aviation market as well as travellers’ growing appetite for getaways after pandemic restrictions. Below, we will discuss the reasons for the surge in advertising by airline companies.

Pandemic Uncertainty Fuelled Pent-Up Demand for Travel

During 2020 and much of 2021, Brits’ wanderlust was put on hold as COVID-19 grounded flights and closed borders. Families and friends were kept apart, milestone events were postponed, and holiday plans were cancelled. Once vaccines allowed reopening, optimism soared – as did bookings. After feeling cooped up at home binge-watching Netflix for so long, consumers yearned to reconnect and explore. Airlines met this demand with expanded flight schedules and more routes.

To ensure their slice of the post-lockdown travel boom, carriers unleashed assertive ad campaigns. British Airways’ “You Make Us Fly” spots celebrated reunions and long-awaited vacations. Ryanair’s “Jab and Go” promotion targeted the vaccinated with cheap getaways. EasyJet’s “#BackToTheBeach” drive highlighted sunshine destinations. The goal was persuading travellers to spend those savings and holiday days on flights.

Competition Heats Up in UK Skies

While travellers’ urge to fly has accelerated, so has rivalry amongst airlines serving the UK. As a globally connected travel hub, the market has seen expanding routes and seat capacity even amid economic uncertainty. Disruptive low-cost carriers like Ryanair and easyJet have shaken up the landscape alongside stalwarts British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

With so many options, differentiation is difficult. Creative marketing is key – if humorous, inspirational or quirky ads don’t catch your eye, a rival’s likely will. Airlines have invested substantially in brand building to stand apart. British Airways’ 2021 “You Make Us Fly” campaign was its first branding focus since 2016. EasyJet also launched its first pan-European branding drive since 2019.

Pushing Loyalty Programmes

In hopes of retaining hard-won customers, UK airlines have not just amped up advertising – they’ve expanded loyalty programmes. Perks like free checked bags, bonus miles, and priority boarding entice flyers to stick with one carrier. British Airways Executive Club, easyJet’s Flight Club and Ryanair’s Ryanair scheme offer tiers of increasing rewards.

Loyalty building fosters a sense of community and belonging amongst a programme’s members. Travellers feel recognised and valued by “their” airline versus anonymous passengers. And receiving special deals and upgrades makes flyers feel like VIPs regardless of what cabin they’re seated in. Through advertising, airlines popularise loyalty clubs, promising exclusivity and benefits to frequent customers.

The Impact of Sustainability

Another emerging factor airlines include in modern advertising strategies is sustainability messaging. With climate change and environmental protection growing focal points, carriers aim to reassure eco-conscious travellers through marketing.

Campaigns underscore airlines’ commitments to decarbonisation and emissions reduction with initiatives like fuel-efficient planes, renewable jet fuel and high-quality carbon offset programmes. Captions highlight goals for net zero flying by specific target dates. EasyJet trumpets its status as the world’s first major airline to achieve net zero carbon emissions across its operations.

The approach counters conceptions of air travel being intrinsically harmful to the planet. While aviation obviously does produce greenhouse gases, airlines want to shift perceptions by proudly owning improvement efforts. Demonstrating sustainability also builds reputation and passenger trust.

Creative Techniques for Travel Advertising

With so much airline competition, delivering stand-out advertising is paramount yet challenging. How do you make a 30-second spot or glossy print ad compelling enough to attract new or returning customers? Often, the secret sauce involves thinking beyond facts and fares to imaginative concepts that spark aspirations, such as using abstract art in their advertising campaigns.

Over the past few years, many top-rated airlines have used abstract art or similar in their campaigns, but what is abstract art? Why is it so popular? And how is it used by airlines?

Airlines’ advertisements can be seen as moving abstract artworks conveying images and emotions around travel to catch your imagination. If we take British Airways as an example, their latest ads feature aerial views of exotic locales and landscapes with colourful shapes and patterns. With an upbeat backing track, the aim is to infuse warmth and wonder into the BA brand. This strategy has helped them to attract new customers to the airline and retain existing ones.

With so many non-stop flights in the consumer consciousness, an artistic, unconventional approach keeps travel advertising from fading into the background. Evoking wanderlust through sights, sounds, and emotions requires creativity. An airline’s inventive advertising shows at a glance how flying with them will feel, unlike the rest.