Making Art on Airplane Tails

Making Art on Airplane Tails

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The tail of an airplane is not the first place you would think about when looking for unique art. It is probably not the first place you would look to for innovative branding, but it is just the place British Airways choose to do both these things.

In 1997 BA introduced what it called “British Airways ethnic liveries” A series of airplane tail art that features works of art from many of the destinations BA flies to. This was the most ambitious experiment with tail art anyone ever tried up until then and it remains a significant  achievement to date. As you will see in the photos below BA went all out bringing forth a wealth and variety that had no match.

Much of this effort was overseen by BA design firm Newell and Sorrel and it represented strategic thinking that was inline with one of BA’s core attributes – flying many international routs. In support of this new look BA even suggested that the old art work, developed by Landor, carried an air of arrogance and detachment, and this new tail art was warmer and more welcoming.

While branding people and graphic artists loved the idea, BA’s core customer base was non too thrilled with this experiment. BA’s mounting loses (not all associated with this move) and the growing course of “haters” finally got to BA, and by 2001 the experiment had reached the end of the road with the announcement that the BA fleet would take a new color scheme featuring the return of the Union flag.

Although it ended prematurely the BA Ethnic Liveries experiment remains in the eyes of many aviation enthusiasts a wonderful branding experiment. All in all there were over 30 tail designs, here are some of the fruits of this effort:

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Benyhone design (above)

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Rendezvous design (above)

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Delftblue Daybreak design (above)

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Sternhaler design (above)

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Chelsea Rose design (above)

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Colum design (above)

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Waves of the City design (above)

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Delftblue Daybreak design (above)

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Koguty Lowickie design (above)

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Olympic design (above)



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