Virgin Airlines promo targets 'jetrosexuals'

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Virgin Atlantic will appear in a series of movie and TV product placements over the coming months to ramp up the airline's visibility. The placements are being backed up by a major promotional push behind the Virgin in-flight experience.

Ralph Bershefsky, a manager of advertising for Virgin Atlantic in the U.S., revealed that the airline was expected to tie-in with two British movies, Universal Pictures' "Love Actually" and Touchstone Pictures' "Calendar Girls," which are slated for U.S. release this month and next month. Virgin is also expected to appear in some guise on the NBC reality show "American Princess," which sees ordinary folks realize their dreams, if it ever gets the go-ahead from the network.

"The placements were done through our London office," Mr. Bershefsky said. "We receive between 100 to 200 requests for sponsorship a week, so we have a tough time deciding what to do."

Separately, the airline is planning a series of in-flight events and promotions aimed at first-class fliers the airline has internally dubbed "jetrosexuals."

The word is a play on the marketing buzzword "metrosexuals"-used to define men who moisturize and get massages-and connotes the work hard/play hard business travelers the airline targets.

The promotional campaign is the first work for the airline from new agency Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami. Advertising is not part of the initial push, but may be added. The precise media mix is still being decided.

Maxxcom-backed Crispin Porter developed a series of quirky promotional ideas that include in-flight experiences designed to promote Virgin Atlantic's new "Upper Class" suites. Each suite includes a flat bed, table and chair surrounded by a pull-around wall to give long-haul fliers privacy. The airline will erect sample suites at upscale department stores as part of the promotional campaign so consumers can experience them without boarding a plane.

changing the game

Andrew Keller, the agency's creative director on the account, explains some of the promotional events. "We're going to have events in the sky, such as business summits. We want to change the culture of flying so that it's not all about the destination. We want to change the game and make people want the experience."

As part of the attempt to bring glamour back to flying, Virgin Atlantic also plans to create a series of suitcase stickers that used to adorn luggage last century. Even the airline's paper airsick bags are being given a cheeky twist. They double as origami-style 747s and waterproof plant pots.

The tagline of the campaign is "Go Jet Set Go," and will involve some form of branded entertainment, though Mr. Keller could not disclose details. Crispin also created a spoof children's book called "Night- Night, Jetset."

The airline is also planning to launch a series of "frequent cheater" parties that are aimed at getting passengers of rival airlines to swap their miles for Virgin Atlantic miles. Mr. Keller said the airline was considering putting Pfizer's erectile-dysfunction drug Viagra into the Upper Class goodie bags. A spokesman for the agency confirmed this was just a joke, however.

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