Ad of the Day: Virgin Atlantic

Superhuman children find their calling in the airline's stylish new global campaign

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.

CREDITS

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

Postproduction: MPC

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