Virgin America launches integrated multi-media campaign

Written by editor


SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Virgin America today brings its tech and design-driven in-flight experience to life through an integrated multi-media campaign that features some of the airline’s frequent flyers. At the centerpiece of the campaign is a digital experience that brings the airline’s next generation cabins to life with cinematic flair – through the eyes of a few of its most frequent travelers. The campaign highlights Virgin America ‘Originals,’ frequent flyers known for shaking up the status quo in their own fields – including indie film director Kevin Smith, Pandora founder Tim Westergren, Animal and Son of a Gun chef Vinny Dotolo and independent artist/Facebook Creative Strategist Ji Lee. Virgin America also invited these same frequent flyers to curate aspects of the airline’s already unique in-cabin experience – including playlists, film picks and new menu items offered via the touch-screen Red™ in-flight entertainment platform. The campaign site (housed on and flyer profiles can be viewed at:

“For years, flying domestically had largely become a dismal, uninspired experience. When Virgin America launched, the idea that a domestic airline could reinvent that experience – through technology, design and entertainment – was still a pretty radical notion,” said Luanne Calvert, Vice President of Marketing at Virgin America. “But from the day the airline started flying, our cabin experience has attracted travelers who believed in us – believed an airline could do better, and many of them also happened to be challenging the status quo in their own fields. Those flyers have been some of our most loyal guests, they’ve inspired us – and this campaign was a natural extension of that.”

The Virgin America “Originals” include more than a few notable iconoclasts in the worlds of tech, design, food and entertainment – many of whom also happen to be Elevate frequent flyers. Below is a snapshot of some of the Originals featured in the campaign, with a sampling of some of their onboard recommendations.

• Ryan Schreiber, founder of Pitchfork: Ryan curated a soundtrack that debuts in-flight this fall, featuring Bon Iver, DJ Khaled and Tyler, the Creator. The airline offers guests a 4,000 song music library and the ability to build a personal playlist in-flight.

• Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, Co-Founders of Gilt Groupe: These frequent flyers teamed up to create a Gilt Taste Turkey, Grilled Pear and Brie sandwich offered on flights nationwide as of this fall. Virgin America offers guests the world’s first on-demand food and drink ordering system with a menu named best in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure.

• Tim Westergren, Pandora founder, composer and entrepreneur. Tim is the founder of Pandora and an award-winning composer, who improved the experience of consuming — not to mention discovering — music.

• Vinny Dotolo and Jon Snook, chefs from LA’s Animal and Son of a Gun.

• Dror Benshetrit, designer and cultural innovator as well as a Leonard Cohen fan – check out his “Leonard” playlist on Red.

• Shiny Toy Guns, the Grammy-nominated Los Angeles-based electro rock band.

• Xeni Jardin, co-editor of Boing Boing, who, when she isn’t busy reporting on technology, space, science, and odd bits of Internet culture, is inventing ingenious terms like “Unicorn Chaser.” It’s even the name of one of our planes.

“Our cabin experience is so different, and for a young airline still new to many – it is tough to convey just how different it is, especially in a category where we’ve been trained to think ‘you’ve seen one airline, you’ve seen them all.’ So we focused a lot on video, an immersive digital portal and creative OOH – as well as a social layer,” said Jesse McMillin, Creative Director at Virgin America. “Most of our success has been based on word-of-mouth. The challenge is trying to share that Virgin experience with someone who has never flown. We thought who better to bring our cabin experience to life than our frequent flyers?”

The “Originals” campaign includes digital media executions and vibrant out-of-home (OOH) advertising with a social layer that engages consumers in the airline’s product experience, including its offering of fleetwide WiFi, on-demand films, live TV and music playlists at every seat, interactive features like videogames, Google Maps, seat-to-seat chat and on-demand food ordering. The airline is inviting fellow travelers to be part of the campaign by using the hashtag #MyVXExperience to send photos of their “original” Virgin America experience at 35,000 feet – via the airline’s Gogo In-flight WiFi. The photos will become part of the digital experience, culminating later this month in a unique live feed to Times Square from Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson and fellow Virgin America flyers. The campaign also features a wrap of a BART transit tunnel in the airline’s hometown of San Francisco, with the rich imagery of the in-flight experience brought to life for commuters. Key media markets include San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, New York City and Philadelphia.

Since its launch in 2007, Virgin America has grown a passionate following of flyers for its inventive service – including an unrivalled breadth of content available on the Red touch-screen in-flight entertainment platform, unique design elements like signature cabin “moodlighting,” which transitions across 12 shades based on outside light, fleetwide in-flight WiFi, power outlets and custom-designed leather seating. The airline’s Red in-flight entertainment platform offers guests their own seat-back touch-screen with 25 on-demand films, live TV and premium TV like HBO, interactive Google Maps, videogames, seat-to-seat chat, music videos, a 4000 MP3 catalog and the ability to build a personal playlist in-flight, a digital Shop platform and an on-demand menu – so flyers can order a cocktail or meal right from their seatback any time during a flight. The carrier has swept the major travel awards every year since its launch, including: “Best U.S. Airline” in Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards and “Best Domestic Airline” in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards.

Virgin America flies to San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C. (IAD), Seattle, Las Vegas, San Diego, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Cabos, Cancun, Chicago, Puerto Vallarta, Palm Springs, Philadelphia, Portland and Washington D.C.’s Reagan National (DCA). With sleek airport spaces that offer a concierge desk look and feel, Virgin America operates from its home base at San Francisco International Airport’s sleek and sustainable Terminal 2.

About the author


Editor in chief for eTurboNew is Linda Hohnholz. She is based in the eTN HQ in Honolulu, Hawaii.