As a child, could you catch fish with your bare hands while standing knee deep in the local river? Did you have uncanny, almost otherworldly powers of clairvoyance that let you glimpse the future—and even change it for the better? Could you make paper airplanes before you could crawl?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should stop what you're doing and go work at Virgin Atlantic.
All sorts of outlandishly precocious children grow up to become Virgin Atlantic workers in RKCR/Y&R's stylish, fantastical, tongue-in-cheek launch spot for the carrier's new global campaign. Styled as a kind of faux movie trailer—cut into 30-, 60- and 90-second TV edits, as well as a cinema version and a two-minute online spot—the spot celebrates the airline's staff as literal superheroes. Their special gifts include rapid reflexes, preternatural intuition, creative problem solving and heightened empathy. Naturally, as adults, they rendezvous in Virgin's ranks as cabin crew, ground staff, designers and pilots.
The tagline: "Virgin Atlantic. Flying in the face of ordinary."
Launched with the new year, the campaign is unapologetically nostalgic and retro, but knowingly so. Air travel hasn't been glamorous in decades, yet Virgin brings back some of that attitude—along with the attendant fashion and sex appeal—but in a way that's exaggerated and borders on self-parody. Promising superhuman staff, in the end, is no promise at all. But in typical Virgin style, the carrier builds the whole campaign around such false claims, and expects you to quit worrying and just enjoy it. And it works—largely due to the skillful direction by Partizan's Antoine Bardou-Jacquet.
The airline explicitly wants to "bring the glamour and fun back into long-haul travel," says Simon Lloyd, its director of marketing. Mark Roalfe, chairman and executive creative director at RKCR/Y&R, adds: "We wanted to bring to life that special spark that makes the people at Virgin different. I think the film really captures that, but with the tongue-in-cheek tone of voice that we've built with Virgin over the last 18 years."
True glamour may be gone from air travel for good. But in the ads, if nothing else, you can still count on Virgin to make it fun.
Client: Virgin Atlantic
Clients: Simon Lloyd, Breda Bubear, Hamish Rickman
Agency: RKCR/Y&R, London
Executive Creative Director: Mark Roalfe
Creative Partners: Pip Bishop, Chris Hodgkiss
Business Director: Vicky Jacobs
Producer: Jody Allison
Production Assistant: Flo Clive
Music Producer: Dan Neale
Production Company: Partizan
Service Company: Stillking
Director: Antoine Bardou-Jacquet
Producer: David Stewart
Directors of Photography: Andre Chemetoff, Damian Morisot
Production Designer: Nick Ellis
Editing House: Work Post
Editor: Bill Smedley
Lead Visual Effects Supervisor: Rob Walker
Lead 3-D Supervisor: Jim Radford
Postproduction Producer: Julie Evans
Sound Studio: Wave Studios
Sound Engineer: Aaron Reynolds
Composer: Guy Farley