Sometimes when a business helps someone out of a tough spot, the good deed can be its own reward. But sometimes, it can also be a spectacular marketing move. That's what happened last week in the U.K. with travel megabrand Virgin.
Plenty of birds can sing, but how many can dance the skank? Well, none, probably. But the pigeon in this minute-long Virgin Money spot that just broke in Britain comes damn close, strutting its feathered stuff to The Selecter's 1979 ska thumper "On My Radio."
Sure, you would probably suspect for some of the world’s biggest brands to have a mass following on Twitter, but what about the chief executive officers behind those companies? While some CEOs leverage social media to tackle customer service head-on, most use it to simply tweet out relevant news about their respectable industries while putting a face on their brands.
What do you get when you bring together two of the world's most interesting men? A hotel ad, apparently. To promote the upcoming reveal of the first Virgin Hotel, located in Chicago, iconic billionaire Richard Branson has created an ad that also features actor Jonathan Goldsmith, best known as Dos Equis' Most Interesting Man in the World. Of course, Branson never refers to his co-star by his nom de meme, but the creative concept is not too far off from the usual Dos Equis fare. Branson pontificates on rumors about his long-awaited, frequently delayed hotel launch, with mythical tidbits like, "The beds are so springy, they had to lift the ceilings 16 inches." It's not the most cinematic or flawlessly performed ad. But for a one-city hotel promotion, it's a pretty clever combination of two epic marketing personalities. Starting Wednesday, the hotel will also be displaying similar "rumors" outside the building at 203 N. Wabash Ave. If you tweet a rumor of your own from the Virgin Hotels website, you could be entered to win a two-night stay at the hotel.
Quick—do you know what Starbucks Coffee Liqueur, Ralph Lauren for the Pet and Mr. Clean Car Wash all have in common? Answer: Each is an example of a brand extension—a new product that a brand famous in one category rolls out in another category.
Now boarding at Gate 11: geeks and nerds! Adland's recent trend of using Silicon Valley stars instead of Hollywood heavyweights and pro athletes—think Best Buy and J. Crew—continues in an interactive push from Virgin America designed to set its in-flight experience apart from the competition. The "Originals" multimedia campaign from ad agency Eleven and production firm Tool includes "frequent fliers" like Pitchfork's Ryan Schreiber, Hairpin's Jane Marie, Pandora's Tim Westergren, BoingBoing's Xeni Jardin, independent artist/Facebook strategist Ji Lee, and Gilt Groupe's Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson. Some of those folks designed cabin features for Virgin. Schreiber, for example, curated in-flight music. The techies appear along with other forward-thinking "cultural influencers" (like indie filmmaker Kevin Smith and rock band Shiny Toy Guns) on an elaborate website that serves as the campaign's centerpiece. The site touts airline amenities as users take a fantastical, multi-dimensional trip that includes visits to a baseball game, a performance by the aforementioned Guns and a woodsy Hunger Games-inspired movie shoot. Despite some impressive visuals, I found the tour both overwhelming (a few ideas too many) and vaguely tedious (ultimately, it's an airplane, not a Tardis or holodeck). Lacking film stars, it's telling that Virgin employs Hollywood blockbuster-style overkill to get our attention, essentially reducing its cast of business-world achievers to bit players. It's almost as if the carrier didn't quite trust things to take off with these low-wattage luminaries (in the eyes of the public, anyway) at the controls. See all the ad stars, and a few videos, below.
As prizes go, it doesn't get much better than this. Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia are holding a contest in which the person who logs the most miles on those airlines between now and next Aug.
Want to upgrade to a snazzy new Virgin Mobile phone? First, you'll have to creatively dispose of your old one.
This is kind of amusing: Virgin Mobile Australia has centered a whole new ad campaign from Euro RSCG around Doug Pitt—an unknown dude who happens to be Brad Pitt's brother. The point is that Virgin's plans are a great deal for anyone, whether you're somebody or just a nobody like Doug.
Branded entertainment often falls at the starting line for lack of a buzz-worthy hook—but Virgin seems to have a winner, in terms of publicity if not actual content, in making the first short film shot at 35,000 feet.