The pandemic has forced brands to get creative in their messaging and problem-solving as the early messages of solidarity, seriousness and support transition into more lighthearted tones. In its new brand campaign, Virgin Hotels tackles issues that might hit close to home for those entering their fifth month of family lockdown. The hotelier, which has properties in Chicago, Dallas and opened a new location in Nashville earlier this month, is positioning itself as a solution to help harried mothers and bickering couples relax. Four 30-second spots include themes such as “Let Virgin Hotels Save Your Marriage” and “Let Virgin Hotels Give Mom a Minute.”
Jaime Robinson, co-founder and chief creative officer at Joan Creative, which was named Virgin Hotels’ agency-of-record earlier this year, says that while brands were pursuing messages of togetherness, the conversations on social media and among friends was quite different. “People were like, ‘Holy crap, my husband… I don’t know why I married him,’ and ‘The kids are driving me nuts,’” she says. “One of our ways to approach this was to think about the work as a way to identify that and give people the connection that Virgin understands.”
The push, which will run on digital and social channels as well as connected TV, coincides with when Virgin Hotels would normally run a brand campaign, according to Doug Carrillo, chief marketing officer. “The brand campaign launching now was always going to focus around what makes Virgin Hotels different than other hotels, especially in the lifestyle category,” he says, noting that the pandemic forced the brand to focus its lens on the differences even more. “We wanted to focus this particular campaign on how Virgin Hotels is really solving for some of the things that consumers went through or are going through.”
The brand campaign also coincides with the July 1 opening of Virgin Hotels’ Nashville location. This month, Joan collaborated with Virgin Hotels on a campaign designed to lure local Nashville residents, tired of their own homes, for a staycation at the property. The hotel is giving out disposable cameras for guests to use to photograph themselves as the first-time users of several amenities on site—Joan will then transition the film into user-generated content for more marketing.
“We got some great response,” says Carrillo.
Virgin Hotels is also working with New York-based Next Guest and Chicago-based BCV. The brand campaign is focused on connected TV because that’s where many of Virgin Hotels’ customers spend time, Carrillo says, noting that 34 percent of his customers are millennials and 50 percent are Gen X. “Connected TV really speaks to that audience and is a great way for us to track our effectiveness.”