Since August 17, Alain de Botton, a philosopher and author of books like The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work and How Proust Can Change Your Life, has occupied a desk at the airport's Terminal 5, where he is compiling a journal of his experiences over the course of a week.
Botton has been given full access to all areas of the airport and more important, complete creative control in what he writes. His observations will be featured in a book A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary, to be published by Profile Books in late September. 10,000 copies of the book will also be distributed free to Heathrow passengers. It will also be available for purchase at major retailers.
The free creative reign Botton has would be cause for concern for any marketer, but Mischief of London, the PR firm that masterminded the stunt, believes the risk is well worth it.
"It's a brave marketing move as we've opened the airport up to literary critique and we won't see the finished product until it's published," says Dan Glover, creative director at Mischief. "Heathrow is very much the scene of the story, the passengers and staff its characters. We may not like what is written, but the airport has nothing to hide and at least people will see, and talk, about Heathrow as a place to notice rather than somewhere just to simply pass through."