In case you missed it, here is a pioneering interactive advertising (read Personalized) campaign by British Airways (BA)

The British Airways (BA) Home Advantage TV commercial was created to mark BA’s sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympics. The original TV ad shows BA’s jumbo jet driving (not flying) past iconic parts of London and then dropping off passengers to the Olympic stadium.

According to Justin Moore, Creative Director at BBH a British agency that I admire tremendously, the ‘Home Advantage’ creative idea emerged from questioning ‘what would BA do with its planes, pilots and staff if it decided not to fly during the London Olympics so that Londoners could stay at home and cheer their Olympic teams?’

The interactive version of the ad allows viewers to create a personalized version of the ad by inputting their London street address or postcode to take BA’s Jumbo Jet maneuvering past their home on their street. Set to a soundtrack of The Clash’s London’s Calling, one clip shows a cockpit view of your street while another shows a view from a passenger window and a third shows the nose of the aircraft rolling past homes on the street.

If you have a London address (a postal code will do) you can still test-drive the interactive BA ad here. I didn’t have a London address on hand so I tried the Buckingham Palace postcode but it did not work, and understandably so because I don’t think BA would have expected Her Majesty to tinker around with an interactive ad for amusement.

The original TV commercial premiered just before England’s June 12th game with Ukraine in Euro 2012  and within weeks the interactive version of the BA ad had gone viral. When I last checked BA’s #HomeAdvantage had 2695 likes, 1566 shares and 484 comments on Facebook, 10,800 tweets,  and 1.146 million views on YouTube. According to the Sunday Express, July 5, 2012 (link) it had become “one of the most successful ever interactive social media advertising campaigns.”

The Wilderness Downtown

I could be wrong, but I am fairly sure that this original Google Chrome experiment from 2010 demonstrating the capabilities of the Google Chrome browser was the first generation of the technology that was used to create the BA ad. Arguably, it was also the inspiration for it. Keep in mind that “The Wilderness Downtown” was created two years prior to the BA ad, which is an eon in technological years.

Set to the song “We used to wait” by Arcade Fire, the interactive personalizable, multi-media video was a collaborative effort of Google Creative Labs and and music video director Chris Milk. The viewer is prompted to provide the address of the street they grew up on and the HTML5 video along with Google Map data and images does the rest. It places the viewer at the centre of the narrative, taking them down a nostalgic journey through the neighbourhood they grew up in. It is a powerful and emotional experience! Truly genius in my opinion.

See more information on the experiment here. As this was a demonstration there is no hard sales data, but suffice it to say that it won every meaningful award for creativity that matters from a Cannes Grand Prix Lion, Gold Lion, D&AD Black and Yellow Pencil, Clios Grand and Gold, One Show Gold and Silver Pencils, Webbys, Andys, SXSW, TED, MVPA and TIME.

So what can we learn from this? Personalization works.

Aziz Memon is Principal Consultant at Salt Strategy Inc.