In the early 90s, British Airways created history with the launch of its cinema commercial.
It was one of the most brilliant and freshest ideas in advertising history. Created by advertising firm Saatchi & Saatchi, the commercial was a textbook case of media innovation.
Set in a Parisian boulevard, a man and woman were shown embracing each other. And then came the unexpected.
A woman in the cinema audience jumps to her feet and starts shouting to the man on the screen: “Nigel, Nigel, is that you?”
Not until “onscreen Nigel” answers back does the penny drop.
The woman was an actress who was planted in the audience by British Airways. She continued a rather emotional dialogue with Nigel, her lover, who was with another woman on a British Airways romantic break.
The commercial, if it can be called that (it was more like a new type of advertising medium), culminated with the actress storming out of the cinema. Every time that was staged, the audience spontaneously applauded.
The challenge with a cinema commercial is somehow to make sure that it will be recalled after the intense experience of the film. If this one didn’t, nothing could.