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The SSK
7th Apr 2005, 09:40
Does your skirt fly up on a motorbike?


From today's Wall Street Journal Europe:

In a move designed to draw passengers who may long for the days when an airline's name stood for something more tangible, London's Virgin Atlantic Airways is giving names to its individual upper-class flights that travel from various U.S. cities to London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports.

As the airline industry is increasingly squeezed by economics, the days of passengers identifying with a certain brand of big-brand airline are essentially over. Consumers largely choose plane tickets based on price and schedule, not the company offering them. Virgin Atlantic hopes to follow the lead of upstart carriers such as JetBlue Airways or Southwest Airlines with a marketing strategy that plays up unique offerings and style.

Created by Miami ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky, the flight-naming effort highlights experiences that are supposed to be exclusive to Virgin passengers. For example, Virgin's flight from Miami to London will be known as "The Trance Atlantic," and features seats that become flat beds, a bar and bartender, and a chance for a massage. When passengers land, they can have a shower and a shave in the "revival lounge" before taking advantage of a free limousine service.

Virgin also offers what it calls a "LimoBike service," a motorbike-based service that may be faster than a regular limousine in London traffic. And how about this: For women wearing skirts, the service will offers skirt weights that clip onto the garment to keep it from flying up while on the motorbike.

"We feel like we are in the experience business as much as the transportation business," says Chris Rossi, vice president of sales and marketing for Virgin Atlantic in North America. He added that one of Virgin's flights to London ranks as "a close second to Air Force One," a reference to the identification for aircraft used by U.S. presidents.

Getting passengers to pay a premium for first- and business-class services is seen as an increasingly attractive sideline for carriers, say analysts. "It's a very lucrative market, if you can get it right," says Mike Powell, aviation analyst for DrKW, a London-based investment bank.

Virgin Atlantic says this campaign, built over a year's time, is an evolution of work it began when it changed ad agencies to Crispin from CMG, a Connecticut-based shop, in July 2003.
In addition to the flight naming, more traditional promotions will include print ads, cab toppers and billboards. Art designed for airport gates is designed in an intense red color and features scenes from each flight. The national compaign is tailored to each of the nine U.S. cities from which Virgin Atlantic flies to London. Virgin also will include inserts of mock boarding passes in certain magazines.

For example, a poster for "The Fly Chi," or the flight from San Francisco to London, features an Asian man with red hair, a red-striped shirt and a red Virgin Atlantic tattoo, getting a massage. The setting is on the plane, and the San Francisco skyline is in the background. The tagline is the flight number, 020, and the Virgin Web site.

"We get the pull of a national campaign, but really with local and regional messages," adds Virgin's Mr. Rossi, who says Virgin spent about $2 million, or 1.6 million euros, for this campaign.
Virgin didn't stop at branding its flights. It also branded its target audience as "jetrosexuals," which it says are people who move business and culture forward. In its research, Virgin says "jetrosexuals" prefer cool brands such as BMW and Apple. As a result, the carrier is planning to pass out Virgin-branded cases for Apple's iPod music players to its passengers.

acbus1
7th Apr 2005, 18:12
Virgin On a Motorcycle. :}