Virgin America gets off the ground with a dramatic entrance.
After several years of negotiating with federal regulators, Virgin America finally earned its wings in 2007 as the newest U.S. carrier. In true Virgin style, they wanted to celebrate with a series of high-profile events that would capture the interest of America’s jet set. To help get the party started, they called on Ogilvy PR for a strategy that would position Virgin America in a class of its own.
Like almost all other Virgin-branded companies, Virgin America was interested in selling its image as much as it is service. Recognized and revered for its provocative blend of quality, fun, and style, Ogilvy PR planned to exploit the power and mystique of the Virgin brand - and its founder Sir Richard Branson - to help Virgin America take flight. To celebrate its first San Francisco to Las Vegas departure, the team devised a Vegas show-stopping event, complete with personalized experiences, luxury amenities, celebrity guests, and the unmistakable Virgin personality.
In three short weeks, a series of point-to-point parties, events, and stunts were planned that put Sir Richard Branson at the center of action. It started in San Francisco, with a lavishly staged send-off where Branson carried Kyla Ebbert, once bumped from a Southwest Airlines flight for inappropriate attire, on board and welcomed her with open arms. In flight, the billionaire, ordained as a minister, performed a wedding ceremony in the aisle. After a Vegas-style reception upon arrival at the airport - complete with show tunes, champagne and Elvis - the entourage continued to the Wynn Resort for a VIP celebration at Tryst that included the cast of Showtime's hit series, Dexter, as well as a celebrity poker game hosted by World Series of Poker champ Jamie Gold. Pamela Anderson, Carmen Electra, Lauren Conrad, and Audrina Partridge were also part of the excitement.
The party paid off. The campaign generated more than 3,600 broadcast and print hits including Martha Stewart, Today Show, CNN, MSNBC, San Francisco Chronicle and Fox News. Thousands of Internet news hits and blog conversations talked about the event including TMZ.com, Us Weekly, People.com, Perez Hilton, E! News, and more. From what the team could capture, it generated at least 97 million impressions with an ad value equivalency of 3 million (and rising).