Virgin Atlantic Airways has always been a mover and shaker when it comes to image and innovation. Despite the fact that 2012 brought a £93m loss for the company, brand leaders at VA have continued to put their best face forward. A willingness to take risks, reinvent themselves, and remain relevant has resulted in one amazing campaign after another. Like “Flying in the Face of Ordinary":
VA realizes that the bulk of their customers purchase one or two flights with them per year, making it more important to continuously engage their audience in every possible way, digitally and in real life. Let’s look at four ways the brand has succeeded over the past year.
On 1 April of last year, Virgin Atlantic pulled a lighthearted prank that resulted in some serious payoff. Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin empire, released an announcement on the company website stating that the airline would be launching a domestic route with a special new feature: a glass-bottom through which passengers could enjoy the British hills and Scottish highlands.
The response was immense. According to The Guardian, VA’s Director of Brand and Customer Experience Reuben Arnold reported that the joke “was pushed out via Twitter and it went viral…It was phenomenally successful. It had a social reach of 3.5 million, was picked up by traditional media such as the BBC and was even reported as fact in China.”
That spark launched a big conversation. How can your brand get people talking? What holidays can you play off of throughout the year? Don’t be afraid to think big.
Little Red Book
For another campaign, VA took a chance with Ceros, a company that helps brands create great websites and microsites with layout and animation tools as well as multi-channel distribution and analytics. To market its new loyalty programs – Flying Club and Flying Co – Virgin turned to Ceros for a creative solution.
“The Little Red Book,” a beautiful, interactive online brochure that highlighted and outlined everything VA’s customers needed to know about new offers, was a huge success. The venture resulted in an immediate jump in Flying Co registrations, 33,000 unique visitors in the first month alone, and 22,000 click-throughs to the Virgin Atlantic website, all of which led to over $250,000 in revenues.
In the company’s long tradition of embracing modernization, earlier this year VA announced plans for a six-week trial in which its staff would employ Google Glass and Sony Watches to optimize customer service. The wearable tech enables a heightened and more personalized service, allowing employees to greet business and first-class passengers immediately by name, providing them with flight details and other shareable information like weather and events at any destination.
At last month’s Wearable Technology Show in London, VA’s IT Innovation and Development Manager Tim Graham reported that the campaign was a success, with very positive customer feedback and plans to further expand trial research and development. The airline is the first in its industry to test Google Glass in these ways, exemplifying its commitment to innovation as well as customer service, while drawing a great deal of attention due to the cutting-edge gadget.
The future is now – what’s stopping you from trying something new?
Virgin’s a pioneer in in-flight entertainment, and was the first airline to release a new and interesting safety video over a decade ago. This year, the airline unveiled an updated version, which was created with the brand’s cinematic leanings in mind. The video, an animated short titled: “Trip: The Virgin Atlantic Safety Film,” follows a passenger through a dream safety sequence inspired by various films and movie genres.
The video has garnered 196,167 views, 3,061 likes, and tons of comments across YouTube and Vimeo since February.
By contrast, Virgin America’s refreshing music-safety video has accumulated 9,072,234 views and 73,904 Likes on YouTube since 29 October of last year. Converting the mundane process of explaining safety regulations into an upbeat, likeable pop song was a genius move that’s made people stop and pay attention until the very end. One user commented, “I challenge you NOT to watch the entire video.” Music to a marketer’s ears.
The U.S. marketing team took efforts to the next level with a Safety Dance Battle website, where talented fans could submit their own dance videos for a chance to be featured in a future version of the Safety Video. To maintain engagement, the lead up to the next version will include an artist competition in the vein of American Idol, turning to the community to decide who will be chosen.
Not only did the video infuse the VA brand with a high dose of fun, it also transformed fans into creative collaborators, heightening engagement all around through user-generated content. To top it all off, a social media push via #VXsafetydance tied everything together and exhibited a deep understanding of the importance of inter-connectivity in terms of cross-platform engagement and content marketing success.
It would be great to see more of that from Virgin Atlantic’s home-based efforts, but with their combination of talent and attitude, we can assume that the best is yet to come.
By Anastasia Dyakovskaya, NewsCred Contributor