Virgin Trains are back on track

New campaign launched between Bank Holidays helps train company raise perceptions of its offering

Virgin Trains: ad improves scores
Virgin Trains: ad improves scores

Train companies have occupied the news headlines frequently this year as fare increases across the UK caused a drop in the general impression of these brands.

Virgin Trains is no exception. However, by implementing a strategy of station and track improvements, the company is at least attempting to raise perceptions of its offering. To supplement this, Virgin Trains has run two distinct campaigns, the most recent launching on 6 May.

The new ad starts with a station announcer stating to our heroine that the train on platform four is going to "Becky's boyfriend's flat". Set to ABC's classic hit The Look of Love, Becky embarks on her Virgin Train journey.

Along the way, there are numerous reminders of the amorous nature of Becky's journey, ranging from being served champagne on the train to travelling through a tunnel of love, culminating in the arrival of Becky at the station, where she shares an embrace with her boyfriend.

The new ad could be interpreted in two ways. Either Virgin is implying it is the company to get you to your loved one, or perhaps it  is trying to suggest that now is the time to fall in love with its service.

Whichever is the case, the timing of the ad was impeccable - launching as it did between two Bank Holidays, when services are busier.

Furthermore, following lengthy track improvements that inevitably led to some disgruntled responses on BrandIndex, the campaign helped Virgin improve its scores.

As you would expect from a good campaign, brand buzz improved following the ad, from -3 to a peak of +1 on 11 May.

The ad also led to improvements in the brand's quality (up two points from zero) and value for money scores (up four points to -8 on 13 May).

The brand's highest score following the ad was general impression, where Virgin Trains achieved a score of +6 - the highest for the brand in almost six months.

While the brand's improvements are promising, Virgin Trains still has a lot of work to do in improving its value scores.

For example, its rival National Express has a value for money score nearly 15 points higher.

Richard Wood, www.brandindex.co.uk

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.

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