While the face-to-face customer service for most airlines remains largely a highly unsatisfying experience, we can’t help but fall in love with the way the big old jet airliners use online marketing. Jet Blue and United might be the headline grabbers with savvy social media campaigns, but when it comes to overall digital engagement, Virgin America leaves the competition in the dust.
We nearly spit out our tasty morning beverages when we heard a recent Pandora online radio ad for Virgin America wherein the announcer quotes Yelp reviews of the company as if they were reviews from top critics gushing over some important film. The humor in the ad comes from the playful real-life copy that teases Yelpers light-heartedly while giving potential passengers an insight into what good stuff they can expect from a Virgin flight. Hilarious and smart, the ads are one of the few popping up on Pandora that don’t make you reach for your mute button — and that’s saying something.
The company fares equally as well on Facebook. The brand’s signature sly sense of humor is in attendance here, too. The current Chair Modeling Contest is proof Branson’s baby has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek. Facebook users are encouraged to post pictures of themselves modeling in chairs to celebrate the company’s Elevate Your Seat program, which allows flyers to transfer points from AMEX’s rewards program to Virgin mileage. Winners of the photo face-off can walk away with travel vouchers, WiFi passes and other cool stuff. Virgin America’s Facebook page also plays home to the Approximator, which calculates how much time you’ve spent on a boring airline and then gives you 20 percent off on flights to Dallas-Fort Worth.
Over on YouTube, Virgin America is running the beyond cute and quirky Twin Tested videos that feature real-life twins who fly on Virgin and a competitor to the same location. The twins later exchange notes that are of the standard “my flight had WiFi!” and “mine sucked” variety. While effective, the videos get grating. But all is forgiven once you’ve watched “We’re all in this together,” a brightly animated commercial with a catchy jingle. The sweet video confection is a joint commercial for Method products, which are in the restrooms aboard every flight.
Yes, Virgin America still has a steep ticket price, but the brand’s message is clear — fly with us and you’ll have fun; fly with them and it’ll suck. Based on the genius online marketing, consider us sold.