Ad of the Day: Virgin Mobile

Sir Richard Branson's entire life has been leading up to this day, when he can service everyone on Earth

An honest question: What is that effect called? '70s filter? Mother New York's new spot for Virgin Mobile manages to perfectly capture that washed-out look found in every Steven Spielberg movie between roughly Jaws and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.

One thing the spot illustrates beautifully is how much better it is to work for a client with a sense of humor. Over the course of the ad, directed by Traktor, we see Sir Richard Branson slapped, rejected by a pretty girl, mocked by his mates, and encased in some truly fabulous orthodonture.

I have been to one event at which Branson was present, and he appears to have gotten his idea of how a billionaire should act from a Tintin comic book. To which I say, "More power to you, Rich." It was the beginning of a junket that promised a free flight to Las Vegas and an overnight stay in a swanky hotel. I arrived to listen to Branson's runway speech and then go home, because I have a modicum of professional self-respect. At the event, Branson blasted a photographer with champagne, ruining a lens (he apologized with the bottle of champagne, which was almost certainly a fair trade), and practically had to be physically restrained from hugging the entire press corps. It is not every mogul who does this, but it certainly endears him to the little people. This is clearly the Branson on display in the Mother spot.

There are a lot of cute moments in the ad: the syncopated whacks of the newspapers against the door, the bearded baby Branson yanking out the phone cord, Young Branson lip-syncing "It's just so simple" to the voiceover. In sum, it's a prime example of how to create an ad with breadth of scope without seeming busy.

The whole thing seems to say, "This is Richard Branson, and he's here to service you. Every last one of you." Actually, it does say that. Out loud.

Now, how is the coverage on those phones in outer space?


Client: Virgin Mobile

Agency: Mother, New York

Director: Traktor

Production Company: Traktor

Editorial: Final Cut

Editor: Rick Russell

Visual Effects: MPC

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