Virgin America Says, ‘This Is How to Fly’

LOS ANGELES Independent Eleven Inc. breaks its first work for Virgin America Airlines this month, according to Courtney Buechert, agency president.

The Burlingame, Calif.-based airline, which began flying last August, announced a split with its lead agency, Anomaly, in November.

The airline’s new CMO Porter Gale subsequently assigned creative and media duties to Eleven in San Francisco. (Gale came to the company about three months ago from her own consulting company. Her agency background includes a stint as the gm of Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners’ S.F. office.)

The new campaign capitalizes on what Buechert calls “the dream, or the unfathomable reconciliation of the extremes” between low-price, no-frill airlines such as Southwest and expensive carriers that stress comfort and service. “The market is so polarized, there is an opportunity,” said Buechert.

One print ad shows a stewardess bringing sandwiches to a hipster passenger. The headline: “You order it. We’ll bring it.” In a second ad, an entourage of beautiful women surrounds a rock ‘n’ roll guitar hero. The headline reads: “Everybody needs an outlet.”

All elements are tagged, “This is how to fly.”

“It looks and feels like a flavor of fashion advertising,” Buechert said. “Work that’s brand-centric rarely says something. But we have rational benefits, like $44 flights to Los Angeles, with a big prominent price, because I [as a consumer] want to know that too.”

Along with print ads, Web efforts and out-of-home iterations such as billboards and taxi wraps are in the mix. (To re-create the unusual cabin lighting, bus shelters in San Francisco will be lighted with the purple/red hues of the planes’ interiors, with images on the sides that simulate the views from within the aircraft.)

“The work captures the energy of the airline,” Buechert said. “It has the same kind of vibe that Virgin America does.”

The client spent $2 million-plus on ads last year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Gale expects the budget to more than double this year.