British Airways wants Brits to stay home for Olympics

A viral ad campaign encourages Britons to stay home and cheer on the nation's athletes

Alastair Grant/AP Photo

Businesses advertise to make us buy their product—this is the normal course of things. Brewers don’t applaud the abstemious (except as drivers for drinkers). Condom-makers don’t promote abstention. So it may come as a surprise that British Airlines (BA), sponsor of the Olympics Games, is instructing potential passengers “Don’t fly” in its latest ad campaign

Apparently, the company that flew the flame to London would rather Britons stay at home to cheer on their country’s athletes rather than sink their savings in flights.

“We want to help get the nation behind our medal hopefuls,” BA head of UK sales Richard Tams said. “We believe every clap and cheer will make the difference.” So the travel company wants people to stay put, at least for a little while.

A minute-long advertisement launching the campaign premiered at the European Championships during a soccer match between Great Britain and the Ukraine.  It features an airplane taxi-ing through the streets of London. Tams admitted the campaign is “tongue-in-cheek.” But BA proclaims earnest patriotism as its prime motivation. They are even offering free flights home to friends and family of Britons who live abroad.

Naturally, the campaign has been an internet hit, with over 800,000 views so far on YouTube alone. BA’s selfless advertising will probably be good for business.

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