Next time you're on a Virgin Atlantic flight, take a closer look at the in-flight magazine Hot Air and the in-flight TV on the screen in the back of the headrest in front of you, because you'll see the work of River Publishing's Virgin Atlantic Media sales team.
The team sells across Hot Air and Virgin's in-flight entertainment guide Info, which are both published by John Brown Publishing, as well as River's own Kids, a magazine for under 14-year-olds, the TV and various ambient opportunities. This has created a multimedia, multi-skilled job for the three-strong team since it took over the contract at the beginning of last year.
But whatever the platform, says sales and marketing director Gareth Davies, the most important element of the job is working with advertisers which complement the classic Virgin brand.
"As long as you enhance the passenger's experience and create a synergy between the brands, you've got a win-win situation for everyone," he says.
And Hot Air is a stylish brand in its own right, especially since Ekow Eshun was recruited from The Face as editor and the quarterly magazine relaunched last week with more lifestyle content. "You could stick it on the news stand and it wouldn't look out of place," says Davies.
The sales team has also managed to recruit advertisers that wouldn't look out of place in a newsagent, largely through letting the agencies know about the Virgin Atlantic offering and shattering any prejudices they may have had about in-flight media.
An advertiser such as Stella Artois might initially prefer to go in a style-leading title like GQ, but Davies has managed to attract such brands to his in-flight portfolio. Hot Air has no competing magazines sitting next to it on the plane, and definitely has a captive audience at that altitude.
Some of the more creative solutions dreamt up by the team include offering samples of Roche's Beroccas health product in the in-flight amenity pack and supplementing Panasonic's adverts for its LV75 DVD player by using the machines in Virgin Atlantic airport lounges.
"Because we can work on everything, it gives us flexibility and more opportunities to generate the right types of support," says Davies.
The team deals with major agencies such as OMD, Carat, MPG and MindShare, and it looks like their job isn't going to get any less hectic. Later this year, Virgin Atlantic is to become the first airline in the world to offer in-flight internet and e-mail access, initially on one Boeing 747-400 and then across the whole fleet. So the team will be able to add banners and buttons to its sky-high portfolio.
Located at Victory House on Leicester Square, the hustle bustle of the team's busy office is echoed by the sounds of crowds and street entertainers drifting through the windows from the square. Davies admits this can be annoying in the summer when he hears the entertainers coming out with the same punchlines over and over again, but being based near Soho does have its advantages.
Some of the local bars favoured by the team include Zoo Bar and All Bar One, while they are also keen on the restaurants found in Chinatown.
"Our entrance is also right across the road from the Red Cube bar, though we've not managed to blagg our way in there yet," says Davies.
And should the team get bored of Central London, every six months it hops on Virgin Atlantic flights to check out new destinations or new in-flight products - all in the name of research, of course. Its last research trip took in New York, which must have been very hard work.