Matthew Miller
May 10, 2019

The thinking behind Cathay Pacific's new motto

'Move beyond' is our 'Just do it', says the airline's marketing chief Edward Bell, who will be increasing spend by "tens of millions" to make the new credo fly.

The thinking behind Cathay Pacific's new motto

Cathay Pacific has unveiled a "complete rebranding" under the tagline 'Move beyond'.

The effort kicks off with a new brand film by Jake Scott (son of Ridley) featuring Hong Kong Olympic cyclist Sarah Lee and Canto-rock band Supper Moment. While Cathay is not changing its logo type or the 'brushwing' mark it has had in place since 1994, it has added a new font for the tagline and a dash of new energy with a new visual element referred to as a 'vapour trail' (seen at the end of the video and in the stills below).

The rebranding campaign, which will roll out in all of the airline's major hubs in Asia, Europe and North America, involves several Publicis Groupe agencies: Leo Burnett for creative, Digitas and Publicis Media for media, MSL for PR and social media, and experiential-marketing consultancy Luminous. Publicis, along with VCCP, won the Cathay business last summer, after a five-month pitch process ended the airline's 25-year tenure with McCann.

Speaking at a press preview of the campaign yesterday in Hong Kong, Edward Bell, general manager of brand, insights and marketing communications for the airline, explicitly likened 'Move beyond' to 'Just do it'.

While the phrase obviously alludes to travel and implies a "new chapter", Bell asserted that it's deeper than that. "It's a call to action," he said. "It's asking you to do something. It's asking us all as human beings to take a leadership mindset in our lives and challenge the expectations. It's relevant to how we operate as an airline, but I also believe it's relevant to every human being."

Speaking to Campaign Asia-Pacific after the preview, Bell said that Cathay Pacific has been re-engineering itself from top to bottom, so it's only fitting to have an expression of purpose that represents how the airline is moving into the future. "We're not going to wait and see what happens," he said. "We're not going to wait for things to come. We're going to go and attack it."

Bell contrasted 'Move beyond' against the former tagline, 'Life well travelled'. "We just felt that with what we need to do in the future, we want something a bit bolder," he said. "Something that brings a bit more power. And also we wanted something that can be as meaningful internally as it would be for our customers."

Asked whether 'Move beyond' might be seen by some as the airline's way of asking the world to forget about its massive data breach, Bell responded with some passion.

"We've had our challenges," he said. "And 'Move beyond' is absolutely relevant to those kinds of things. I think every company has its ups and downs, as every person has their ups and downs. This idea is about the triumph of the human spirit. That nothing is ever always easy, and there are going to be tough times. But it's about what you do when you have a knock... Do you lie down, or do you get up and kind of kick on?" Lee was chosen for the film not only because she is beloved in Hong Kong, but because her story mirrors that kind of resilience.

Carol Lam, president and chief creative officer of Leo Burnett Greater China, said 'Move beyond' developed out of the idea that we are all travellers in different senses. The campaign seeks to tell a story of collective journey. "Through this, we see that it's really not just a ticket from point A to point B," Lam told Campaign. "It's really a journey in between where we've been and where we're going. And along the way, Cathay Pacific is always part of the journey, because we share the same spirit."

Visually, the new film literally follows people through life journeys, and Publicis purposely chose a "more honest, down-to-earth visual presentation to bring this higher level spirit to life", Lam added.

Words and deeds

One way Cathay Pacific will be putting its new motto into action is in terms of media spend, which will increase significantly, especially above the line. The brand will spend "tens of millions more" than it has commonly spent in the recent past in order to drive the "anthemic" new message out to the world, Bell said.

For its part, Publicis will live the slogan in coming months by asking its shops in Cathay's key markets to move beyond simple adaptation. "We encourage our regions, the key markets, to really activate this idea," Lam said, "whether by using the celebrities they want or using another way to really bring this alive that is most relevant to their local market."


Edward Bell, Cathay Pacific's marketing chief, teased three upcoming initiatives:

  1. A relaunch of the business-class cabin in Q3 will make it "even more amazing".
  2. An upgrade will take in-flight entertainment "to another level", also in Q3.
  3. A relaunch of Betsy, the airline's branded beer.

Partners for the long haul?

As Cathay Pacific and Publicis Groupe are still in the honeymoon phase common to most new client-agency relationships, it comes as no surprise that both parties express how thrilled they are with the new partnership.  

Bell said that two years ago when he joined, Cathay was changing its whole structure. He examined every piece of the marketing machine, and decided to change a lot of it.

While the brand still has nothing but respect, affection and gratitude for McCann, the change has been positive, he said. "We wanted to have a single P&L relationship. We wanted media and creative under one roof. And we wanted to have that seamlessness between programmatic and search strategies right the way through to creative, and dynamic creative, and all the future developments. We wanted all that to sit in one strategic hub, and not have to go off and work with hundreds of different people to do that, because we think that fragments the approach, and you don't get the synergies."

Edward Bell and Carol Lam

For her part, Lam believes the Cathay win came at just the right time for Publicis. While the company's 'Power of one' strategy was in place, taking on a huge, complex client challenge provided a chance to put it into action. In fact, she said, the company could not have met the challenge without being unified both physically (in its new all-together-now Hong Kong offices) and in spirit. "It's a vivid demonstration that 'Power of one' is not only a slogan."

Lam added that it's an agency's dream to have an explicit commitment from a client to move past the ordinary. "I'm happy we have the guiding principle, the blessing, to really go beyond and do bolder things in the future," she said. "Now, we set the tone, we make a statement. But actually, what we are going to do in the future matters more."

WAYPOINTS: Moments from Cathay Pacific's marketing journey

Feb 19, 2019 - Cathay Pacific scores with new Rugby Sevens spots
Local Hong Kong culture hits the locker room in a fun campaign by Leo Burnett Hong Kong.

Dec 11, 2018 -  The Asia-Pacific Power List
Edward Bell features on our list of Asia-Pacific’s 50 most influential brand marketers.

Oct 25, 2018 - Cathay Pacific announces huge data breach
Personal information, including passport and credit card numbers, hacked from around 9.4 million passengers, airline confirms.

Aug 31, 2018 - Publicis, VCCP named winners in Cathay Pacific's first pitch in 25 years
The airline has chosen the winner of its creative, media and social assignments, an account reportedly worth US$100 million.

Jul 26, 2018 - Hong Kong agency organises 'breakup tour' for the newly single
Cathay Pacific, Airbnb, Carousell, KKday and Pamycarie participate in a co-branding exercise organised by Secret Tour Hong Kong.

May 9, 2018 - Cathay Pacific, Asia Miles & Accenture team up on marketing effort using blockchain
New mobile app from Cathay & Asia Miles uses Accenture's blockchain technology in a new Hong Kong dining rewards promotion.

Mar 28, 2018 - McCann on notice as Cathay Pacific calls wide-ranging pitch
The pitch is a key part of Cathay's three-year turnaround strategy that demands a transformation of its marketing approach.

Mar 23, 2018 - Short-term 'sugar rush' can seduce marketers
VIDEO: Amid all the focus on setting up digital platforms and acting on real-time data and incentives, marketers may be forsaking long-term brand building at their peril, says Cathay Pacific brand chief Edward Bell.

Aug 8, 2017 - Cathay Pacific tunes into local sounds in latest campaign
The airline's The Sounds of Travelling Well campaign features the audio bites from the Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Osaka and Kyoto routes.

May 26, 2017 - Cathay Pacific's brand is not the issue—its experience is
BRAND HEALTH CHECK: As the airline slashes jobs, we asked two brand consultants for their take on what's gone wrong, and how to fix it.

Feb 22, 2017 - Meet Betsy: Cathay Pacific's beer 'brewed for 35,000 feet'
Named after the airline's first aircraft and brewed in Hong Kong, the beverage is supposedly formulated for in-flight consumption.

Jan 12, 2017 - Cathay creates brushstroke art based on flight history
More than a million Marco Polo Club members will receive a customised birthday present.

Mar 31, 2016 - Cathay Pacific's Rugby Sevens promo heaped with well-deserved scorn
From Hong Kong: 'Welcome aboard the party' for Cathay Pacific.

Jan 20, 2015 - Cathay Pacific unveils global ‘Life well travelled’ campaign
After working to refine its design, product and experience, Cathay Pacific today launches a global campaign by McCann Worldgroup that seeks to communicate a more 'expansive' position in the market.

Aug 22, 2011 - Cathay Pacific makes the right call: PR industry
Cathay Pacific's decision to delay the second phase of its global campaign in light of a series of lewd photographs of airline employees was an effective and prudent one, PR leaders in Asia say.


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


Campaign Asia

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