Virgin Atlantic Turns NYC Park Bench Into the Lap of Luxury

Bringing sky-high service down to earth

Young & Rubicam placed an "Upper Class Bench" on Broadway and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, in the pedestrian park near the Flatiron Building, as the centerpiece of its experiential campaign designed to show people what it's like to fly Virgin Atlantic. Passersby who sat on the bench were serenaded by a string quartet and served champagne and haute cuisine by flight attendants. A period costume drama was performed, complete with noble steed (representing in-flight movies), and a flashmob of shiny-suited "aliens" acted out a video game. This stunt won a Silver Lion in PR at Cannes, but I'm not sure if I'm a fan. If I collapse on a public bench, it's because I've been busting my hump all day and need a few minutes to clear my head, without assaultive brand-boosting street theater breaking out around me. (That horse took a nasty dump on the sidewalk—you just know it did. That's what horses do.) On the plus side, Virgin's bench appears to be clear of gum and vomit—a rarity in the city—and I could surely use a drink before resuming my soul-crushing day. Screw the fancy glasses, just leave the bottle with me.