Welcome to Heathrow. Now sit down, be quiet.
One of Infiniti’s values is Japanese hospitality. Infiniti sent a car to pick me up. The driver got out of his car to greet me and the first thing he said was ‘Hello, Mr West.’ There was an Infiniti-compiled CD playing when I stepped into the car.
The greeter at BA’s business lounge held out her hand for my boarding pass before she’d made eye-contact with me. Inside, the salad bar smells of the toilet blocks which are situated next to it.
That’s where I spotted BA’s ‘Children must be accompanied’ sign stuck on the wall; the words turning the friendly, curving logo below into a false smile.
Which one of BA’s recently advertised ‘Fly to Serve’ brand values does that tone of voice represent?
Children are a nuisance, sometimes. But then, sometimes, so are mobile-phone ranting, silent-but-deadly farting adults who spread their bags over 4 seats. And they don’t have to be accompanied by anyone.
To me, the inadvertent verbal identity of BA’s sign reveals how the brand is struggling to understand an informal, less hierarchical world.
The words are a reaction by a brand that can no longer expect everyone to wear a suit and tie, but can at least try and make sure that children are seen and not heard. They’re a bully’s words.
On the way into T5, big banners proclaim how proud BA is to welcome people from all over the world to London in 2012.
Let’s hope they don’t bring their kids.