Virgin flies in face of adversity

Virgin Atlantic's fun and engaging campaign is well received by consumers, but may still feel the pinch.

Virgin Atlantic's anniversary advert
Virgin Atlantic's anniversary advert

Reassuring potential consumers in a time of uncertainty is a tricky feat to achieve. As numerous high-profile companies continue to struggle, Virgin Atlantic's latest £6m advertising campaign has flown in the face of adversity by aiming to raise consumer confidence in the brand despite the depressing economic outlook.

Virgin Atlantic's new ad, which first aired on 5 January, takes the viewer back to the brand's launch in 1984, celebrating 25 years in business.

The ad features iconic brands from that era, including Wimpy and Our Price, and is set to the sound of the 1980s track Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

The campaign stars an eye-catching fleet of female cabin crew dressed in Virgin's trademark red, who stride purposefully through the airport.

Onlookers' jaws drop as the hostesses parade past, and passengers on rival airlines decide they either need to change their job or change their ticket to be on the same flight.

The message of the much-discussed campaign is driven home loud and clear - after 25 years, Virgin Atlantic is "still red hot".

Scores on BrandIndex suggest the campaign has been well received by consumers, with the index score for the brand - the overall measure of the brand's health - rising three points since the launch of the campaign.

This overall increase has been driven principally by the brand's quality and buzz scores, which have shot up 10 points over the 10-day period from 5 to 19 January.

With the high-profile collapse of both the XL Leisure Group and Zoom Airlines last year, brands must expect that consumers will feel uneasy about booking their vacation in 2009.

With this in mind, Virgin Atlantic has created a fun and engaging campaign that aims to raise consumers' spirits while restoring confidence in both its brand and the airline industry as a whole.

However, Richard Branson could still face an anxious year ahead, with the trend in times of economic uncertainty for consumers to take their holidays in the UK rather than splashing out on lavish holidays abroad.

Regardless of how highly consumers regard its air travel service, Virgin Atlantic may yet feel the pinch.

METHODOLOGY: YouGov interviews 2,000 people each weekday to form its BrandIndex, a daily measure of public perception of more than 1,100 consumer brands across 32 sectors. It is measured on a seven-point profile:
1 Buzz
2 General impression
3 Quality
4 Value
5 Satisfaction
6 Recommend
7 Corporate reputation.
In addition, we supply an index score.

Richard Wood, www.brandindex.co.uk

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