Virgin Atlantic

Bridging the gap between creative and digital

The original challenger of the aviation sector, Virgin Atlantic has struggled in recent years to cement its position within a sector where price-point and pollution are increasingly influencing consumer preference. While the brand has long been hailed as a torchbearer for Premium Economy fares, recent activity demonstrates increased desire to compete with successful low-cost carriers like easyJet and Norwegian Air Shuttle. It has previously held talks to consider establishing its own low-cost carrier, for example, and this year split its economy offering into three sections to create a new budget fare. It is also currently in talks for a possible takeover of struggling British airline Flybe.

Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays recently joined creative forces for the first time in a bid to become more cost-effective. It is focused on standing out and ensuring it is front of mind for its customers, as brands such as British Airways and TUI have a significantly larger media budget.

Futureproofing the brand: The brand is looking to bridge the gap between creative and digital next year, as part of efforts to futureproof” its brand. Earlier in 2018 it expanded its in-house creative department, hiring new Head of Brand and Creative Michael Stephens, among several digital, design and creative roles. It will continue working with creative agencies as they “bring a strategy element” and we digital content creation is likely to be key here, around its core message of diversity. It has recently hired AI chatbot analysts, which ties into its strategy to be a “digital-first” brand.

Increased focus on customer experience: Virgin Atlantic is in the process of revamping its loyalty scheme and claims that it will create more value for customers and reward them in “unique and differentiated ways”. We expect it will also increase focus on email marketing as it looks to create a more personalised experience, using algorithms so that each customer receives unique and relevant information depending on their own interests. It recently teamed up with food writer and TV host Donal Skehan to reinvent in-flight meals, again tying into its wider strategy to improve the customer experience. It also plans to start operating direct flights between the UK and Australia to compete with Qantas.

Diversity and inclusion are fundamental components of the Virgin brand – demonstrated in its three-year headline sponsorship deal of Europe’s largest LGBT awards ceremony Attitude Magazine’s annual Attitude Awards. We expect that the event will further its commitment to this message and that properties looking to get on the radar should make note of this ahead of future introductions. It’s worth noting that the brand also recently came in 83rd place in a poll of the world’s most climate-efficient airlines and PR that can help it to shout about new green credentials is likely to be high priority for 2019.

Media Spend Q1-3 2018: £4,379,359

Agencies: Adam & Eve, Abbot Mead Vickers BBDO

Key decision-makers:

Head of Digital Experience Martyn Reding – connect

VP Marketing Claire Cronin - connect