M&C Saatchi has got its own back after former client British Airways dumped it by recreating its famous BA "face" ad from the 1980s for plucky business airline Silverjet.
M&C Saatchi - whose founders Maurice and Charles lost the BA account in October 2005 after a 23-year relationship - has created the copycat advert, complete with the same director, soundtrack and location, to build the fledgling Silverjet brand by piggy-backing off the iconic campaign.
The strategy extends as far as mimicking BA's famous "the world's favourite airline" tagline; Silverjet is using "the world's most civilised airline".
"With a brand new ad you have to throw a lot of media money at it to get recognition over a period of time as people tend to switch off," said Lawrence Hunt, chief executive of Silverjet.
"People will immediately recognise this as a classic travel ad so we have won half the battle and then the focus will be on what is different about it."
M&C Saatchi has recreated the original ad - which launched in 1989 showing thousands of people coming together collectively to form the features of a happy face - with the director Hugh Hudson, the soundtrack, Delibes' Flower Duet from Lakme, and the same locations in Los Angeles and Utah.
The new Silverjet ad will be particularly irritating for Bogle Bartle Hegarty, which won the BA account from M&C Saatchi, as it comes a month after the agency launched its long-awaited debut brand ad for the airline, which was widely panned.
The key difference with the Silverjet advert, that debuts on Sunday on ITV1 before the kick-off of England's quarter-final Rugby World Cup showdown with Australia, is that it only uses four people rather than the thousands in the original advert.
"We want to show that we are an exclusive private jet service, our planes carry 100 people not 400 and we leave from private airfields," added Mr Hunt.
The cost of making the ad and buying the media space is in the "hundreds of thousands," said Mr Hunt; this compares to BA's estimated £50m global ad budget.
Source The Guardian
Watch the advert here Silverjet