EasyJet to Air TV Ads With Hugh Laurie to Lure Business Flyers

EasyJet Plc will begin airing commercials tomorrow featuring the voice of “House” star Hugh Laurie in the airline’s first television advertising effort aimed at business flyers.

The “Business Sense” campaign, at a cost of 8.5 million pounds ($13.8 million), lauds EasyJet’s on-time performance and will start with U.K. television, the Luton, England-based carrier said in a statement. The ads will be complemented with a print, outdoor and digital campaign that will be extended to countries including France, Germany and Portugal.

EasyJet, the continent’s second-largest discount carrier, is competing with larger rival Ryanair Holdings Plc for lucrative business travel. EasyJet has introduced flexible tickets, allocated seats, fast-track boarding and higher frequencies to boost its business-friendly credentials, prompting Ryanair to examine similar benefits.

“This is the first time we have chosen to advertise to business travelers on TV and it is indicative of the importance we place on this key and growing market for us,” EasyJet Commercial Director Peter Duffy said in the statement.

The commercial, set in a busy airport, features a white rabbit with a pocket watch who proceeds calmly to an on-time flight amid harried travelers.

More than 12 million of EasyJet’s passengers are flying on business, accounting for about a fifth of traffic, the airline said. EasyJet said in June it plans to spend 20 percent of its marketing budget on campaigns aimed at Europe’s 20 billion-pound business-travel market in the year starting Oct. 1, versus 10 percent previously.

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