The British Airways "Face" Advertisement
was a television commercial campaign by British Airways
British Airways is the flag carrier airline of the United Kingdom, based in Waterside, near its main hub at London Heathrow Airport. British Airways is the largest airline in the UK based on fleet size, international flights and international destinations...
in 1989. The commercial was made by advertising firm Saatchi & Saatchi
Saatchi & Saatchi is a global advertising agency network with 140 offices in 80 countries and over 6,500 staff. It was founded in London in 1970 but now headquartered in New York. The parent company of the agency group was known as Saatchi & Saatchi PLC from 1976 to 1994, was listed on the London...
, and is often considered to be a television commercial classic.
The advertisement was produced in the US state of Utah
Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...
, with thousands of extras participating in the advertisement. Places of production included Salt Lake City, Lake Powell
Lake Powell is a huge reservoir on the Colorado River, straddling the border between Utah and Arizona . It is the second largest man-made reservoir in the United States behind Lake Mead, storing of water when full...
, and the salt flats near Moab, Utah
Moab is a city in Grand County, in eastern Utah, in the western United States. The population was 4,779 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat and largest city in Grand County. Moab hosts a large number of tourists every year, mostly visitors to the nearby Arches and Canyonlands National Parks...
Viewers first see a group of swimmers swimming, all wearing red clothing. A close-up of one of the swimmer's lips appear, and then, a quick cut into an aerial view of the swimmers walking out of the water in the shape of a human lip.
Afterwards, viewers see a group of people, wearing blue and black, walking on the streets of a city, forming the shape of an eye. And then, a group of people walking on a grassland, forming the shape of an ear. Afterwards, these groups of people (with the exception of the group that formed the ear, perhaps because they will eventually form the face instead) gather on a salt flat, and a scene is shown where people from all walks of life, from all cultures around the world unite together, with the British Union Jack in the background, and British Airways crew members in the midst of it.
The scene then cuts to an aerial view of the face, which smiles and winks. Afterwards, the face turns into the impression of the globe.
The sound track is "Aria on Air" by Malcolm McLaren.
There are three versions of the commercial. One is the original version, which was recut into another version around 1994 because new uniform was introduced for British Airways crew members. Another version was aired during Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...
, where the ending was replaced with a child hugging Father Christmas
Father Christmas is the name used in many English-speaking countries for a figure associated with Christmas. A similar figure with the same name exists in several other countries, including France , Spain , Brazil , Portugal , Italy , Armenia , India...
and a cut into a view of Earth from space.
The ad is often considered to be a British Airways Classic, and it is ranked 62 on the 100 Greatest TV Ads programme aired by Channel 4.
In the 1990s, the ad was parodied by a British laundry detergent company, featuring crowds of people in the shape of articles of clothing like t-shirts and underpants set to similar music.
Australia's "Big Ad" for Carlton Draught
Carlton Draught is a 4.6% pale lager made in Australia by Carlton & United Beverages.-Description:Carlton Draught is a pale lager which is sold on tap in its home state of Victoria as well as in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia, and is one of Australia's most...
beer, from 2005, parodies the Face ad in many ways.
In 2007 Silverjet
Silverjet was a British all-business class airline headquartered at London Luton Airport, Luton, Bedfordshire, England, that, prior to the suspension of operations on 30 May 2008, operated services to Newark Liberty International Airport and Dubai International Airport...
parodied the ad, using the same locations and the Flower Duet aria on which the music for the original ad was based. The Silverjet ad also features a face, but it is formed of only four bodies (two eyes, mouth and nose) to emphasize the exclusivity of an all business class airline. Likewise the music is minimalist, quickly cutting to an a cappella
A cappella music is specifically solo or group singing without instrumental sound, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. It is the opposite of cantata, which is accompanied singing. A cappella was originally intended to differentiate between Renaissance polyphony and Baroque concertato...
recording of the Flower Duet, the use of the original opera version, rather than a pop rerecording again evoking the exclusivity of the airline. This ad was made by the makers of the original ad then at M&C Saatchi
M&C Saatchi is an international advertising agency network formed in January 1995 by the brothers Maurice Saatchi and Charles Saatchi after they were ousted from the advertising agency group Saatchi & Saatchi which they had founded in 1970...
, having lost the British Airways contract.
BA "Face" Commercial on YouTube
Silverjet parody on YouTube