Campaign Spotlight: British Airways Offers Poignant Look at Chinese Students Abroad

British Airways is working to make it easier for the growing number of Chinese outbound travelers. Earlier this summer, the airline introduced 54 Chinese cabin crew members to its flights between the United Kingdom and Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu. To market its efforts, British Airways enlisted the help of Ogilvy & Mather to create a video campaign that highlighted another growing group in China’s tourism market: students studying abroad and the parents they leave behind.

Called “Flying the Nest,” the video features a Chinese student named Fangfang who goes to college in London, leaving her mother and father behind in Chengdu. In the video, she describes everything she misses about home and says she is beginning to worry about whether her parents need her—in Chinese culture, it’s common for the parent’s caregiver role to be passed onto the child once they reach a certain age. Little does she know that her parents are preparing to surprise her with British Airways’ help. In an emotional climax, the parents are reunited with their daughter at a Chinese restaurant, where Fangfang’s mom brings her a homemade meal. The video concludes with a minute-long montage of Fangfang and her parents experiencing London’s local culture via sightseeing, going to a traditional high tea, getting fitted for a hat, and going to a pub.

The video campaign served as a mini-documentary—according to the company, the college student in the video really didn’t know her parents would be coming. If she had, she most likely would have gone through a lot more stress. William Philipps, a consultant at Social@Ogilvy, said this is what inspired the video’s storyline.

“We noticed that often with these students, when their parents come and visit, they found it to be really stressful because of the language barrier and cultural barrier,” he said. “They’ll write out a handwritten guide to give to their parents, and there is a lot of anxiety and stress involved.”

To solve this issue, British Airways provides a QR code at the end of the video that viewers can scan to download an HTML5 guide via WeChat that shows travelers how to navigate a trip with British Airways, including what they should and should not bring, airport signage translations, immigration steps, and more. Viewers also have the opportunity to contact British Airways on WeChat to personalize the guides and have them printed and sent to a loved one before they fly.

Additionally, British Airways ran a competition on WeChat that gave fans an opportunity to win a pair of tickets from China to the UK. Those wanting to participate only needed to send a friend on WeChat a message about how they take care of them with the hashtag, “Don’t worry. Let me take care of you.” Participants then sent a screenshot to British Airways to get entered in a lucky draw.

In a similar fashion, hospitality brands, travel companies, and airports outside of China are increasingly making efforts to make Chinese tourists’ journeys as smooth as possible as more head abroad and make their way into smaller cities, even just to make connecting flights. From more bilingual signage in the airport to city guide brochures, these efforts could be imperative to helping cities and companies attract their share of Chinese travelers.

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Creative, Marketing & Branding