ready for takeoff

Virgin America Updates its UX With 100% More Cartoon Butts

Posted by Caitlin Barrett on June 20, 2014 10:15 AM

Virgin America took flight in 2007 with strong ties to the sexy, challenger branding associated with most of Sir Richard Branson’s brainchildren. From its first flight, it stood out from other U.S. airlines for its better-than-average treatment of guests and its innovative flight experience (mood music, moodier lighting, AND the least misplaced bags last year create happy customers, it seems). 

So why does a brand on top need to rethink its UX when, really, things are going well for the business? Virgin America saw room for improvement from its (now-old) dot com experience—and saw a chance to set the big goal of increasing online bookings. So the brand chucked the idea of using virginamerica.com as a marketing tool; instead, it’s now optimized to make the booking process a breeze (thereby increasing online bookings). It may be ahead of its time, but Virgin America was willing to move early so that when customers are ready to book on their phones, they’ll be ready at the gate. 

But enough about the strategy—the new look and feel pushes the brand’s tone into a liveliness and creativity that strays from the brand’s sultrier side.Continue reading...

up and away

The Final Frontier: Musk, Branson and Brands Engage in the New Space Race

Posted by Dale Buss on May 30, 2014 05:16 PM

Kennedy and Khruschev have given way to Musk and Branson in the Space Race, with the next significant spacecraft set to be branded as SpaceX or Virgin, not with the ponderous logos of global superpowers.

That’s what the 21st Century has come to, as the once-urgent geopolitical, military and scientific attractions of manned space flight have given way to personal entertainments and branding exercises. Musk/SpaceX and Branson/Virgin both made shows of their latest space travel promises this week.

Musk already has promised to begin taking tourists on SpaceX aircraft into space beginning next year, notable among them a group of “astronauts” who were selected and are being “trained” under a long-running space-themed marketing promotion by Unilever’s Axe and Lynx body-spray brands.

But this week Musk unveiled a cone-shaped spaceship that he hopes one day will ferry NASA astronauts to the International Space Station, return to earth and set down like a helicopter, then refuel and take off again—perhaps even the same day. Before a crowd of journalists and SpaceX employees at the company’s California headquarters, according to the Los Angeles Times, Musk revealed a white capsule, dubbed Dragon V2, that is designed to fit seven flyers at a time.Continue reading...

green shoots

Branson Launches Collective Effort to Convert Caribbean to Renewable Energy

Posted by Sheila Shayon on February 10, 2014 07:41 PM

Sir Richard Branson plans to turn his love affair with the Caribbean into an uber-plan to help other tropical destinations generate power from wind and solar energy instead of diesel. 

With plans to use his two personal islands as examples of how it can be done, Branson, the founder and CEO of Virgin, hosted 12 governments and five prime ministers, along with bankers and investors on Necker (or "Island Zero") and Moskito island to hear plans of how to "green" the Caribbean one island at a time. Necker and Moskito will be 75 to 80 percent converted to renewable energy as working models for the other islands, and expertise from US energy think tank the Rocky Mountain Institute and Branson's green business group, Carbon War Room, will provide assistance and the blueprint.

So far, Branson's "Ten Island Challenge," a friendly competition to see which island can scale clean technology fastest has gained the commitments of eight countries: St. Lucia, the British Virgin Islands, St. Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, Turks & Caicos, Dominica, Columbia for the islands of Providencia and San Andres, and Aruba. In addition to the country-based improvement projects, other, more specific projects will be supported by private-sector loans from the US government of up to $250 million.Continue reading...

brand challenges

Virgin Atlantic Chief Guards the Loins of Struggling Airline

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 19, 2013 05:42 PM

Sir Richard Branson may have a very commanding presence, but his airline—Virgin Atlantic—hasn’t been emulating him for quite some time now. The airline, known for its onboard bars and massages has nearly become an afterthought in an increasingly crowded market. 

The airline, which is owned by Branson's Virgin Group and Delta Airlines has lost money in three of the last four years, the Wall Street Journal reports, and its full fleet of jets stands at a mere 40, small in comparison to its competitors. But new CEO Craig Kreeger is working on putting a recovery plan in place. For one thing, he's already chopped a layer of management. 

"We had a pretty urgent need for change," Kreeger told the Journal. "The company has lost a lot of money in the past couple of years," but he thinks it will turn profitable again by 2015.Continue reading...

traveling brands

Virgin America Puts a Branson-Esque Spin on In-Flight Safety

Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 30, 2013 01:52 PM

Virgin head Richard Branson has never been afraid to spice things up a bit. His companies, like Virgin America, also have a bit of a flair for the dramatic. Throwing inhibitions to the wind, the airline had debuted its new safety video—a humorous song-and-dance number that runs through the air travel rules that most passengers snooze through.

An update to its current animated video, the new version features everything from sultry flight attendants to dancing nuns—and is admittedly hard to take your eyes off of, and certainly pushes the in-flight safety dance trend further than, say, Cebu Pacific Air's dancing safety demonstrations.

But as Ad Age notes, Virgin's video may wear out its welcome a whole lot faster: It “initially charms but then quickly becomes kind of exhausting," it comments. That probably isn’t the reaction Virgin was going for, though those that fly Virgin often are likely to feel that way after having to sit through the Glee-like performace a few times.Continue reading...

media brands

Virgin Nudges Its Way into Airport TV Programming

Posted by Sheila Shayon on August 27, 2013 11:51 AM

Virgin Produced, Richard Branson’s production studio, just inked a deal with ClearVision to add programming to the company’s airport broadcast network. 

Founded in 2010, Virgin Produced has co-produced a half-dozen films including Jobs21 and Over, Immortals and Limitless, as well as short-form music, travel, comedy and lifestyle programming viewed on Virgin's in-flight entertainment system.   

ClearVision, a platform of Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings already has partnerships with ABC, CBS, NBC, History Channel, E!, the NFL Network, BBC America, VH1, Fox Movie Channel and the PGA Tour to stream content to TVs inside three major US airports: Raleigh-Durham International, Dallas Love and New Orleans International.Continue reading...

corporate citizenship

Branson and Friends Hope to Hatch Plan B for Business with New Non-Profit

Posted by Alicia Ciccone on June 17, 2013 11:02 AM

During last week's G8 Innovation Conference, Richard Branson along with the director of Kering, Jochen Zeitz, announced The B Team, a global non-profit aimed at refocusing business on people, the planet and the economy. 

The 'team' is made up of a handful of global business and political leaders including The Huffington Post's Arianna Huffington, Kering's Francois Henri-Pinault, Unilever CEO Paul Polman, and the Minister of Economy and Minister of Finance of Nigeria. With a goal to take the focus off of short term gains, the B leaders hope to broaden the conversation and inspire a Plan B that focuses on solving the world's growing problems of inequality, unemployment and the unsustainable use of natural resources, according to a release.Continue reading...

traveling brands

Virgin Lets Passengers Make a Pass with New Seat-to-Seat Feature

Posted by Mark J. Miller on April 30, 2013 12:42 PM

Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson wants to help everybody without $4.6 billion to their name find love. (And if it helps him make a few more bucks, all the better.)

Virgin Airlines, in honor of its new flight plan to Las Vegas, has introduced an in-flight service designed to bring folks together on all of its planes. Passengers can now send a drink, snack or meal to other passengers on their flight and send text messages to them via the touchscreens on their seatbacks. If airline travel was one of the last places that you could escape conversation and advances from others, don’t worry. Virgin does give the opportunity to decline any freebies from other passengers.Continue reading...

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