Virgin Holidays Will Live-Stream U.K. TV Ad From 8 Countries

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Virgin Holidays
Virgin Holidays

Virgin Holidays is trying to transfer the real-time appeal of social media to U.K. broadcast TV, with a commercial that will be streamed live from 18 locations in 8 countries around the world on Sept. 10.

From Bangkok and Johannesburg to Dubai and Barbados, a 90-strong production crew will film people snorkeling, surfing and flyboarding around the world. The footage will be streamed back to a master control room in London and broadcast as a 60-second spot, with a live voiceover, during the "X Factor" on Saturday night.

The project will launch the new "Seize The Holiday" positioning from Virgin Holidays, a package tour operator and travel agency owned by Richard Branson's Virgin Group. Research found there is a gap between customers' dream destinations and their next vacation. The travel brand wants to persuade people that they don't need to settle for second best – they can make that leap and take a more ambitious vacation.

Jay Kossifos, Virgin Holidays head of brand, consumer marketing and reputation, said, "We are refreshing our brand purpose. We want to show that everyone can go on holidays that are perceived as once-in-a-lifetime, but really aren't, and to inspire our customers to make the leap and achieve their dreams."

The stars of the ad will be genuine customers of Virgin Holidays who have been cast in advance, unless it is more appropriate to use an instructor for an extreme sport. Agency Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO has also choreographed a rehearsal day ahead of the live shoot. Footage will be used to create teaser spots in the run up to the live broadcast.

Virgin Holidays will incorporate the "live" theme for the duration of the six-week campaign. Digital out-of-home sites will pull in Instagram pictures that carry the #SeizeTheHoliday hashtag, and social influencers have been recruited to live-stream some of their more adventurous experiences to U.K. audiences.

There will also be a social competition offering people the chance to win a trip to their dream destination.

Claire Cronin, Virgin Holidays VP of customer and marketing, said, "There is a group of customers who travel short-haul but dream of long-haul. This ad will showcase a whole variety of different holidays that are on our customers' most-wanted list. Since the recession there has been a growing focus on getting maximum value from a holiday, and we make holidays accessible from every price point. We work with hoteliers, tourist boards, and with Virgin Atlantic to get value for our customers."

The new positioning comes with a change of agency. AMV BBDO pitched against Droga 5 London, Adam & Eve/DDB and Lucky Generals and won the business in April. Ms. Cronin said, "AMV's data-driven insights helped them win the pitch, and we have worked hand-in-glove to bring this to life."

Virgin Holidays profits grew 85% in 2015 to around $15 million. The company also operates Virgin Vacations in the U.S., where Ms. Cronin said that they have "ambitious expansion plans," particularly due to the current strength of the dollar.

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