Cathay Pacific’s Edward Bell on the airline’s new ‘Move Beyond’ rebranding

Cathay Pacific's general manager of brand, insights and marketing communications Edward Bell gives Mumbrella's Ravi Balakrishnan an insight into what went into the rebranding exercise and why 'Move Beyond' stands out amid "pretty forgettable" airline taglines

Cathay Pacific has rebranded and launched a new campaign called ‘Move Beyond’. The campaign was created by Publicis Groupe Hong Kong and the brand film directed by Jack Scott, son of famous Hollywood director Ridley Scott.

Speaking to Mumbrella on the sidelines of the Mumbrella Asia Travel Summit, on the strategy that drove the rebranding exercise, Cathay Pacific general manager of brand, insights and marketing communications Edward Bell said: “One of the things we noticed was brand awareness was dropping and low in some key markets.

“There was a weakening of the brand and that we weren’t in as many conversations. And perhaps, we had lost a bit of the authority we had in the previous years.”

The process by which the team arrived at ‘Move Beyond’ involved digging deep to find Cathay Pacific’s purpose, taking inspiration from marketing thinker Simon Sinek. Bell said: “We have been influenced by Simon Sinek to have a purpose at the core of the brand. This is not something we have worn as a new set of clothes.

“Back in the history of the company, there was very much a strong sense of wanting to help people to do something, and to be useful.”

Driven by the Sinek model, the team realised the purpose of Cathay Pacific was to help people move forward in life, connecting them with memorable people, places and experiences. Bell said: “It reflects our intention to be a force of positivity and progress and play a bigger role; to have an important relationship with customers. That led on to an expression with the tagline which is ‘Move Beyond’.”

Bell believed the line stood apart from many airline taglines which he considered to be “pretty forgettable”. He said: “We think this a very interesting set of words. Many of the brand lines are things like ‘A better way to fly’ or ‘A great way to fly’…they are not really instructive on the direction of the airline and not that meaningful.

“What we wanted to do was articulate that purpose and broader strategy, with an idea that was a call to action – externally and internally. ‘Move Beyond’ is a leadership mindset, a way to exceed expectations and have an ambition to do more than what is ordinary and commonplace. That is going to be the core shorthand that represents the new spirit at Cathay: service excellence.”

Cathay Pacific’s Edward Bell

Asked how the two agencies that Cathay Pacific hired last year – Publicis Groupe and VCCP – were working together, Bell said: “Publicis as our global network partner, takes the lead on launching the brand and managing the marketing in all of our key theatres of marketing around the world in eight regions.

“It has also been working to build core brand assets and launch the brand centrally and VCCP has been playing a role there as well. Some tasks have been led by VCCP and some by Publicis, but there has been very close teamwork between the two agencies.”

To a pointed question on how the agencies were working together in an industry where even collaborations within the same group or holding company were fraught with tension, Bell said: “We are lucky. That was one of the criteria we used through the selection process. We made it clear that we intend working with multiple partners and asked them ‘are you comfortable with that?’ There was a resounding yes from these two. As someone said, it only works when it all works.”

Cathay Pacific, he added, also had an internal production unit which worked on videos and a design team that created signages, menu design etc. Speaking about the rationale behind this structure, Bell said: “It’s not because we don’t want to work with agencies. But for a certain volume of a certain kind of work, it is very convenient to have an internal production capability.

“It adds a string to our bow. In two years, according to Cisco, 90% of the world’s net traffic will be video. We will probably need even more international production facilities in the future.”

The campaign will include the launch video and specific communication on more tangible aspects of the proposition that will be rolled out gradually via digital, outdoor and social. The campaign will break in key markets for the airline such as the UK, Hong Kong, China and the United States – it will move to Australia after the national elections.

Besides the campaign, there will be functional changes to the passenger experience – a revamped business cabin, inflight entertainment and Betsy Beer, which was first launched in 2017.

This marks the airline’s first rebranding exercise after 2015’s Life Well Travelled, which, among other things, saw the brand release a book around the theme.

Client: Cathay Pacific

General Manager of Brand, Insights, and Communications: Edward Bell

Brand and Marketing team: Vivian Chan, Ruaraidh Smeaton, Prudence Lau, Ricardo Lo

Agency: Publicis Groupe Hong Kong

Creative agency: Leo Burnett

Chief creative officer: Carol Lam

Executive creative director: William Li

Copy: Richard Tunbridge, Jessie Fung, Shiyi Wang

Art: Bobby Chiu, Jeanie Leung, Ryan Chan

Agency producer: Anita Chan
Project manager: Pelie Kwok, Shirley Chan

Print production Manager: Imon Lee

Film director: Jake Scott of RSA

Media agency: Digitas

Managing director: Antony Yiu

Integrated media planning and buying: Urica Wong, Chris Leung, Hilda Ng, Priscilla Li, Gerri Mak, Martha So, Vivian Wong

Event and experiential marketing agency: Luminous

General manager: Chowpo Kong

Creative: Jay Lee, Anastasia Simone, Rio Lam, Lionel Maung, Nicole Lui

Project management: Kelly Yeung, Ami Chan, Evelyn Wei

PR and social media Agency: MSL

Project management: Miuson Chi, Karina Cheng, Ewen Cheuk, Ian Yee

Client management:
Global client lead: Angie Wong

Client management: Victor Lam, Ashley Wong, Lydia Wong, Leon Pat, Kelvin Chan, Headman Lai, Jenny Huen, Selena Leung, Mavis Kwok


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