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“Did You Know Flybe Have Gone Bust?”

Agency life perfected the art of “everything is just wonderful” way before Instagram got there. We’re the best at loudly broadcasting our wins and never mentioning our losses or failures.

Not every loss is the fault of the agency of course. Sometimes a new client contact is appointed who just wants to do things differently, sometimes a client/agency relationship has just run its course. Sometimes, something way out of a client’s and an agency’s control happens. And this is the case with Flybe.

RBH have bloody loved every single minute of working with Flybe. We won the pitch long before the brand was seen again by consumers. One of the reasons we won it (we were told) is because we still feel like a start-up ourselves, even after twenty-seven years. We still take risks – and are happy to find ways to work with companies that the bank would really prefer us not to. That’s another reason we stay fiercely independent. We make our own decisions, we put more into our clients than any spreadsheet or algorithm would advise. That lets us live fulfilling work lives and mostly helps our clients to prosper too.

There are lots of reasons to feel gutted about losing Flybe. Not only for us – we come way down the line. But for our clients who have worked passionately and tirelessly to make this business work. For passengers who welcomed Flybe with open arms and have lost out nonetheless. For all the tremendous crew who have been so happy to fly this smaller, personal airline, connecting people to family, friends and favourite places. For Birmingham, the Midlands, our economy, our connectivity, our optimism.

For us, we have so much to be proud of. Not just bringing the old Flybe back but reimagining a new brand that brought the friendliness and warmth of the former Flybe into a more contemporary, accessible, and dynamic ‘Let’s Flybe’ positioning. Making Flybe into its very own active verb. Giving us all reasons to travel again. Not only creating the brand but smashing every industry benchmark in terms of customer acquisition and positive press coverage. Working brilliantly alongside brilliant clients (here’s looking at you Jordan, Philip and Dave).

From day one we all knew the success of Flybe was on a knife edge. This is a highly challenging industry and that’s before Covid, the cost-of-living crisis and, crucially, supply chain issues in aircraft came into play. Flybe is a great brand with a great team behind it and a great proposition. But that alone doesn’t get all the planes you need in the right places at the right times.

Of course, we would all love to see someone rescue Flybe. But even if they don’t, would we have done anything differently?

No, because we have loved being part of the journey. With every risk comes huge learning. For a short period of time, Flybe really did fly. And we’re so proud to have been part of that. Because not every loss is a failure.

Written by Debra Hepburn

Founding partner, RBH Creative Communications and co-founder, Young British Designers.

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