Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Surprise and Delight with Virgin Group and Sir Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson and any of his Virgin companies can always be counted on for their creative and remarkable ideas for marketing their products and services. The recession has not stopped any of the innovation at Virgin. In fact, almost the opposite is true. According to Sir Richard, “Bad Times offer an opportunity to show off your brand’s true colors”. He feels that consistently communicating your values and attitude keeps your customers loyal, despite a long and bumpy ride. “If they don’t hear from you, they will lose interest and go elsewhere”

So what has the Virgin team been up to recently?

Screw you Recession – A statement that captured the sentiment of the Canadian populace was turned into a weblog that encouraged user-generated content and money saving tips. The weblog was launched with the provocative headline on a billboard in Dundas Square, the equivalent of Times Square.

Yesterday marked the last day of the site since “the recession is now lifting”. It’s a cheeky site full of attitude and a reflection of the Virgin brand's irreverent personality.

WiFi on board – Virgin America announced a test flight with Wifi and threw a party in the sky for social media/YouTube digerati and friends which was streamed live from 35,000 feet to a YouTube event in San Francisco. In addition, when Wifi went fleetwide, Virgin celebrated the occasion with the first ever Skype chat with Oprah. While Virgin wasn’t the first airline to have Wifi on board, they certainly did a good job reaching their target customer and made a big splash in a way that reinforced their chic yet accessible positioning.

Day in The Clouds - an online scavenger hunt with Virgin America and Google Apps that was held in the clouds and on the ground. The purpose was to showcase and bring awareness of what people can do on-the-go with technology.

Freefest – Music is at the core of the Virgin brand. One of the outcomes of the recession has been the decline in music festival sales as people have scaled back on discretionary spending. Seeing this trend, Virgin Mobile USA was inspired to make their annual summer festival free. “Freefest” was announced on Jimmy Fallon’s show and the announcement was tweeted and retweeted around the country. As a result, when tickets were released four days later, they were scooped up in minutes.

According to Branson, “ we placed more value on warming consumer’s hearts than on ticket sales. My hope was that the festival would be a great day of community and music, while also showing that a daring plan like giving something for free will pay off in ways that money just can’t buy. That is the sort of brand they know will continue to surprise and delight. And who doesn't want that?

credit: PR Week Sept 2009 issue, Boing Boing

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