British Airways' cool new flight-detecting 'digital billboards'

By David Flynn, December 2 2013

British Airways has unveiled a clever advertising campaign with a dollop of planespotter appeal.

The centrepiece of its LookUp campaign, the British flag-carrier has erected three massive digital billboards which identify BA planes flying overhead.

But the smart screens go a few steps further, to display a video of a child pointing at the plane in flight along with the plane's port of origin (the system currently works only for inbound flights).

There's sometimes additional information such as the type of plane, the current lowest fares to that city or even the temperature at that city – something that's sure to be appealing during the chilly British winter.

Here's a video of it in action, on a billboard at London's Piccadilly Circus.

There's also a pair of billboards at Chiswick, on the M4 between central London and Heathrow. 

The billboards use customised location-aware software to track inbound aircraft and interrupt the standard BA advert as the plane passes overhead from the perspective of the viewer.

"We all know from conversations with friends and family that we wonder where the planes are going and dream of an amazing holiday or warm destination" said Abigail Comber, British Airways’ head of marketing.

"The clever technology allows this advert to engage people there and then and answer that question for them. We hope it will create a real ‘wow’ and people will be reminded how amazing flying is and how accessible the world can be.”

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David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

That's actually really cool.

However, since this is the internet I feel obliged to complain about something, so here goes: that second billboard looks far too distracting to put above a motorway! Not only does it flash at you, it invites you to look at it, then look up in the sky, and then look at the other billboard on the other side -- look everywhere, in fact, except at the road you're supposed to be driving on. 

LR
LR

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 May 2012

Total posts 76

Oh come on Hugo ; ) lets compromise and let the passengers look at the cool bill board and BA aircraft above and the driver drive.

Very clever advertising well done BA

09 Sep 2012

Total posts 140

It is indeed a clever idea, but you're perfectly correct in pointing out the thick-headedness of the placement of the pair on the M4.

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 448

Thats really cool!

QFF

12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1446

It is cool indeed, clever advertising.

KG
KG

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2011

Total posts 736

Wow! If only they were this novel with their inflight hard and soft product, it could be a great airline! ;-)

OMG! That is soooo smart!

Their hard product is alright. Soft product is very hit and miss, which I find strange primarily because the quality of the QF London-based crew is so very high. The logic being if QF can source great crew from London why can't BA?

Does QF still use London-based crew? I've stopped flying with QF on that sector since they've gone to bed with EK...

KG
KG

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2011

Total posts 736

I disagree with you TRB with regard to the hard product, their First Class is cramped and not more than decent business class. Not to mention the food and beverage offerings!

The difference between London based QF and BA cres would be the salary I think. I'd imagine that QF pays top dollar to get the A380 crew and they train them very well. BA is a mixed bag with mixed fleet cres and their moral is at an alltime low.

QF still uses London based crews for LHR-DXB-LHR. The Australia based crew does not travel beyond DXB.

Thanks KG! Yes the crew is very much a mixed bag. Shame really...

I agree with you to an extent re their hard product. It is all relative. I recently flew on TG business class - made me wish I was in Club World by comparison!

KG
KG

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2011

Total posts 736

TG in C is not the best ion their older planes / config. I flew TG on their A380 and 747 in new F and it was great. Also their latest 777-300ER have the business class found on their A380 and it is pretty decent (similar to EY, slightly cramped for my liking but full flat).

QFF

12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1446

I disagree - their first class is classy enough - only complain that I have is the toilet in 777 that as cramped as cattle class one. Food in First really First Class – IMHO better then in Concord room. Business may look for some not as upmarket as other offering, but I really love those window seats that do not require jumping over neighbor to get out. And especially so on second deck of 747.

Qantas crew however is usually far better – members of BA crew just do the job with cold faces and without any involvement.

YMMV (or better say you experience may vary)

KG
KG

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2011

Total posts 736

Yes SERG,  it is classy in terms of color scheme and upholstering of the seat etc, but by comparison to EK, EY, TG, LH etc it is rather cramped. And with regard to their food of course taste is subjective, but if you have flown the before mentioned carriers in F you notice a distinct difference. Again, each to their own, tastes differ. With regard to offering C seats with direct aisle I agree, can't beat that but I do prefer CX in C or even EY or EK over BA.

QF is great in premium cabins (even though C has no direct aisle), I love their food and beverage as well as their crews.

04 Dec 2013

Total posts 1

Hugo its the M4 its a car park  8-7 so no danger

CX

07 Dec 2013

Total posts 2

Very clever advertising, but I concur that distracting drivers on motorways and at busy traffic intersections is less than clever!


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