Gatwick employs high profile PR man Godric Smith (ex Tony Blair, Olympics, BBC) to boost runway campaign

Gatwick airport is spending a lot of money (the figure of £10 million for their PR budget has been mentioned, but this may be an  under-estimate) on their lobbying to win over key hearts and minds to their runway plan. Their new campaign, with glossy adverts on the  underground, large numbers of public presentations etc “Gatwick Obviously” is spending lavishly. Now Gatwick has announced that they are employing a high  profile PR consultant, Godric Smith, to help them in their political battle against Heathrow, for the runway.  Godric used to work as spokesman for Tony Blair. He then worked on communications for the Olympics. He was also brought in to the BBC (part time, at £150,000 per year) to sort out their bad publicity issues. Godric Smith has his own consultancy called Incorporated London.  Gatwick already has existing relationships for public relations with Fishburn and London Communications Agency. Godric Smith is said to have extensive Whitehall experience and “first-class contacts across the spectrum and a very good understanding of how government works”. The airport is also reviewing its digital and consumer agencies.


 This is one of their “Gatwick Obviously” posters.

Gatwick advert


Gatwick plane hiding in the grass

This is one of the photos on the “Gatwick Obviously” webpage on the environment.

Can you spot the plane nestling among the vegetation? ….  at one with nature ….  !

This photo could be a winner in any airport greenwash photo awards.


This is the other photo on the “Gatwick Obviously” environment page.

Gatwick   PR photo with bird

Plane, with trees and bird.  It would appear that Gatwick’s expensive PR company that produced this photo were not aware that the airport discourages birds. And there are no trees like this on the airport site anywhere near a runway.

Gatwick’s own website says they “do not attract and encourage birds to congregate”


Gatwick Airport calls in former Blair spokesman Godric Smith

23 April 2014  (PR Week)

by John Owens,

Gatwick Airport has brought in the agency of former Tony Blair spokesman and Olympic delivery communications chief Godric Smith to help it in the political battle for a second runway.

Gatwick Airport: pushing for a second runway
PRWeek understands that Smith’s consultancy Incorporated Londonhas been hired to push the expansion agenda by Gatwick, which has existing relationships with Fishburn and London Communications Agency.

The appointment comes as the Airport Commission studies a range of options to increase aviation capacity in the south of England.Last month, the airport published more details of its proposed £7bn second runway and launched a campaign called Gatwick Obviously.

It claimed that the airport’s expansion would have an “Olympic-scale effect” on south London.Smith, who is understood to have been hired within the past three months, has extensive Whitehall experience including acting as Prime Ministerial spokesman for Blair and leading communications on the delivery of the Olympics.One agency source praised Smith as “someone with first-class contacts across the spectrum and a very good understanding of how government works”.

However, they added that with another runway at Heathrow among the options being considered by the Airport Commission, Gatwick had a tough challenge on its hands.
“Gatwick wins on a number of criteria against Heathrow, but does it have the credibility among the business community and airlines?

They need them to come out and say it has more potential than Heathrow.”

A spokesman for Gatwick Airport said: “London Gatwick is the obvious choice for the next runway and has built the best possible team to support its campaign.”

Earlier this year, PRWeek revealed that the airport was set to reviewits digital and consumer agencies.

Incorporated London declined to comment on the hire.





BBC pays Tony Blair’s former spin doctor £150k to be part-time PR man

Godric Smith, 48, was hired to restore the corporation’s battered reputation

Appointment followed Jimmy Savile scandal and fat-cat salaries
Tory MPs furious as BBC already spend £5m on in-house PR department
By ANDREW PIERCE   (Mail online)

, 1 November 2013
The BBC is paying one of Tony Blair’s former spin doctors £150,000 a year as a part-time public relations adviser.

The appointment has infuriated Tory MPs as the BBC already has 140 staff in its in-house PR department, with a salary bill of around £5million.

Godric Smith, 48, was hired to help restore the BBC’s battered reputation after the scandal over Jimmy Savile, fat-cat salaries, and the £25million redundancy bill for 150 senior managers.

Key role: Godric Smith with Tony Blair during a Downing Street press conference in 2006

Mr Smith was recruited in the summer by former Labour Cabinet minister James Purnell, who joined the BBC in February as the £295,000-a-year director of Strategy and Digital. The pair worked closely together at No10.

His salary and working arrangements were not disclosed, but the Mail understands he is paid £150,000 a year.

…… and it continues  ……



Gatwick Airport appoints MI6 HQ architect Sir Terry Farrell to promote its 2nd runway plans

July 9, 2013     Gatwick Airport has appointed a leading architect, Sir Terry Farrell, to help in its plans to build a 2nd runway. Sir Terry will help Gatwick in its proposals for a “constellation of 3 London airports” with 2 runways each – 2+2+2. Gatwick hopes competition between it, Heathrow and Stansted was “the best solution for London”. Sir Terry’s previous projects include the MI6 building and Home Office headquarters in London and Incheon Airport in South Korea. Sir Terry’s firm, Farrells, will look at the impact on London of having competing airports of equal size compared to a single “mega-hub” airport. He said: “The world city of London, with the largest aviation market in the world, is the hub and its airport infrastructure needs to evolve and grow around the city” and that “a single mega-hub airport is at significant odds with what London needs.”

Click here to view full story…



Gatwick airport employs PR agencies to help sway opinion in favour of 2nd runway


Gatwick Airport has brought in Fishburn Hedges (a corporate PR agency) and the London Communications Agency on an integrated PR and public affairs brief, in order to try to drum up support for building a 2nd runway. Both agencies will work directly with the airport’s communications staff. They will be aiming to work at the local and regional level to “engage key stakeholders in London and West Sussex.” Gatwick is currently developing detailed expansion plans that could double the airport’s annual capacity to around 70 million passengers and will submit its case to the Airports Commission shortly.  Local campaigners have fought the threat of a second runway for years, as it would have seriously negative environmental and quality of life impacts for the area. Gatwick is legally prevented from starting a 2nd runway before 2019.