RKCR/Y&R, London for Virgin Atlantic – Flying in the Face of Ordinary

“The people at Virgin Atlantic are what make it special. I’m proud of every single one of them. See how we are flying in the face of ordinary in our new ad above.” Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group

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Virgin Atlantic is “Flying in the Face of Ordinary”  with its new global brand proposition. THe campaign brings to life Virgin Atlantic’s innovative and pioneering spirit, capturing the airline’s passion for flight and demonstrating how Virgin Atlantic goes beyond the norm to deliver unforgettable experiences for its passengers.

As a child, could you catch fish with your bare hands while standing knee deep in the local river? Did you have uncanny, almost otherworldly powers of clairvoyance that let you glimpse the future—and even change it for the better? Could you make paper airplanes before you could crawl?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should stop what you’re doing and go work at Virgin Atlantic.

All sorts of outlandishly precocious children grow up to become Virgin Atlantic workers in RKCR/Y&R’s stylish, fantastical, tongue-in-cheek launch spot for the carrier’s new global campaign. Styled as a kind of faux movie trailer—cut into 30-, 60- and 90-second TV edits, as well as a cinema version and a two-minute online spot—the spot celebrates the airline’s staff as literal superheroes. Their special gifts include rapid reflexes, preternatural intuition, creative problem solving and heightened empathy. Naturally, as adults, they rendezvous in Virgin’s ranks as cabin crew, ground staff, designers and pilots.

The tagline: “Virgin Atlantic. Flying in the face of ordinary.”

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Launched with the new year, the campaign is unapologetically nostalgic and retro, but knowingly so. Air travel hasn’t been glamorous in decades, yet Virgin brings back some of that attitude—along with the attendant fashion and sex appeal—but in a way that’s exaggerated and borders on self-parody. Promising superhuman staff, in the end, is no promise at all. But in typical Virgin style, the carrier builds the whole campaign around such false claims, and expects you to quit worrying and just enjoy it. And it works—largely due to the skillful direction by Partizan’s Antoine Bardou-Jacquet.

The airline explicitly wants to “bring the glamour and fun back into long-haul travel,” says Simon Lloyd, its director of marketing. Mark Roalfe, chairman and executive creative director at RKCR/Y&R, adds: “We wanted to bring to life that special spark that makes the people at Virgin different. I think the film really captures that, but with the tongue-in-cheek tone of voice that we’ve built with Virgin over the last 18 years.”

Sir Richard Branson, President of Virgin Atlantic said: “We’re always on the lookout for gifted young people to grow our business. Our staff hold the keys to the future of Virgin Atlantic, they work so hard and we are delighted to dedicate this new advert to them.

“At a time of soaring youth unemployment, our advertisement is a powerful New Year message encouraging everyone to look again at young people and the talents they have to offer to businesses and industries all over the country. People are at the heart of Virgin Atlantic and we believe this advert celebrates this”.

True glamour may be gone from air travel for good. But in the ads, if nothing else, you can still count on Virgin to make it fun.

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VFX Supervisor Rob Walker said, “It was great working with Antoine and Rainey Kelly. The guys came to us with some really cool ideas for us to realize, such as a little boy catching live fish with his bare hands. We had an intensive shoot in South Africa and a challenging deadline to meet, but this was the perfect job for MPC as it combined all of our disciplines.”

We’ve had an excellent team working on this project, everyone’s dedication and passion has helped to craft a wonderful piece of work. Our CG department has created holograms, paper planes, an aircraft and a DNA sequence. We’ve also completed extensive rig removal, multiple pass compositing and DMP work to embellish and create environments”

Advertising Agency: RKCR/Y&R, London
Executive Creative Director: Mark Roalfe
Creative Partners: Pip Bishop, Chris Hodgkiss
Production Company: Partizan
Service Company: Stillking
Director: Antoine Bardou-Jacquet
Year: 2012



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