P.J. O’Rourke, a U.S. political satirist, is an unforgettable figure in this award-winning commercial from 1999 that makes fun of the British. Many stereotypes are depicted such as the cup of tea, cricket and curry. Where does this all lead to? That foreigners still love the British, to the extent that they made of British Airways “The World’s Favourite Airline”! The boastful melody in the background is an excerpt of “Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity” from Gustav Holst’s The Planets.
This is a charming image campaign, presumably aimed at the Indian market. Random British people go on with their lives. Out of the blue, realizing that their hand gestures almost mimic the gesture already, they do the traditional Indian greeting (Namaste) to the camera, while an appropriately modified version of the “Flower Duet” plays. This is both charming and respectful!
This commercial was ahead of its time when it first aired in 1983. Borrowing from the sci-fi movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, it features what appears to be an air traffic control centre guiding an aircraft, callsign “Manhattan”, for approach and landing at Heathrow. Except that it’s not your regular aircraft. It’s actually… Manhattan. You’ll see why.
Presumably on the International Space Station, a U.S. astronaut turns to a Russian cosmonaut to express much disdain about the space food. What happens on the British shuttle, docked nearby, is a whole different story. It’s a posh atmosphere with strawberries, a cricket game on the television, and classical music. It happens to be British Airways’ signature song, “Viens, Mallika” (colloquially known as the “Flower Duet”).