Ad wars: battle begins for hearts and wallets of Christmas travellers

A day after a problem with its runway lights triggered dozens of long delays, Heathrow Airport has launched its Christmas advert.

The slogan of the ad is ‘Making it home makes it Christmas’, and it depicts a couple of retired bears named Doris and Edward Bair, now living in the Florida Keys, returning home to the UK for Christmas – pausing on arrival to buy some last-minute presents at the airport.

In its most recent results, Heathrow earned an average of £8.59 in retail revenue per passenger.

All flights from Miami to Heathrow arrive at Terminal 3, dating from 1961, but the ad depicts the couple’s arrival at the rebuilt Terminal 2, which opened in 2014.

Heathrow Airport declined to say how much the advertisement had cost to make.

The airport has the highest passenger departure charges in the world: for a flight to Florida, the fee is £44.91.

A spokesperson for Heathrow said: “It is normal practice for an organisation to spend money on growing passenger affinity and demand.

“Passenger growth and spend at Heathrow is good because it ultimately means user charges will fall, which is how we are regulated.”

Royalties on the ad’s soundtrack of ‘Every time you go away’ will provide early Christmas presents for the singer Paul Young and the songwriter Daryl Hall.

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Meanwhile, the start of Richard Curtis’s 2003 film Love Actually, featuring passengers apparently emerging from Arrivals at Heathrow, has been copied by the Scandinavian airline SAS.

The carrier has launched its bid for the hearts and wallets of Christmas travellers with a three-minute film created by the Danish director Jeppe Rønde. Along with the photographer Peter Funch, he spent a week at Copenhagen Airport’s arrivals hall.

The ad opens with “meeters and greeters” waiting anxiously for their loved ones outside arrivals. Some of the tearful encounters are real, while others are staged.

The airline says the director and photographer worked “with both cast and real chance encounters at the arrival hall as they waited for the right second to capture that unique feeling of arriving”.

Annelie Nässén, executive vice-president sales & marketing for SAS, said: “Travel changes us, and when it changes us, we change the world.

“With our new campaign ‘The Arrivals’, we want to show that travellers return richer.”

The campaign will run in the UK, US, Scandinavia, Germany, France, China and Japan.

Last month, Trailfinders launched its first television venture for 25 years. The giant travel firm last featured on TV when Mike Gooley, the founder, appeared in an American Express advert in 1993.

The 30-second film shows a range of experiences including a cruise ship, jungle adventure and safari, but was all shot in Spain early in September. 

Nikki Davies, marketing director for Trailfinders, said: “The ad is designed to both inspire its core target audience of affluent travellers and convey the breadth of holidays Trailfinders is renowned for.”

Meanwhile viewers of The Apprentice on BBC One have responded with derision to the candidates’ attempts to brand and advertise a new budget airline.

In Wednesday night’s edition, the two teams of aspiring entrepreneurs bickered as they filmed ads for ‘paper airlines’ named Jetpop and Manage-Air. The former showed a couple swigging champagne on the beach at Southend, while the latter used ‘Highway to Hell’ by AC/DC as its soundtrack.

Robert Sinclair, chief executive of London City Airport, criticised the choice of Jetpop as an airline name, saying: “Aren’t people going to be concerned that their jet might pop?”

The candidate were also lambasted for their choice of uniforms. One was judged to be too revealing, while the other was an inept copy of Emirates’ cabin crew dress.

The Independent headlined its review: “The most toe-curling episode in years”.

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