Pitchfork, Pandora Execs Among Virgin America’s New Ad Stars

Geek-tastic campaign from Eleven

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.

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