To encourage more travellers to return to the skies, Virgin Atlantic has launched an advertising campaign that celebrates non-conformity and diversity among people. Jenny Southan reports

Not so long ago, Virgin Atlantic cabin crew had a strict dress code that included high heels, skirts and lipstick for women. However, in 2019, founder Richard Branson began issuing female crew with trousers and allowed them shun make-up if they so chose. Now the airline is going even further with a heartening new advertising campaign.

Virgin Atlantic says the advert “champions the rich individuality of the airline’s people and customers, building on research showing that travellers find most airlines’ crew to be impersonal in their service”. Now, Virgin Atlantic crew are encouraged to be their “true selves” on board and on the ground. “They don’t follow a script and are seen to offer a more personal touch.”

Created with newly appointed advertising agency Lucky Generals, the campaign introduces the end line “See the world differently”, drawing on the “airline’s heritage of challenging the status quo, as well as recognising that the travel industry is entering an exciting new era”, says Virgin Atlantic.

The 60-second TV ad, which focuses on a group of charismatic characters, at an airport and on board an A350-1000 plane, is set to the song “I am what I am” – a track made famous by Gloria Gaynor but reinterpreted here by breakthrough Jazz/Soul artist Lady Blackbird.

There is also a print campaign made up of shots of Virgin Atlantic crew and customers, with lines championing their individuality. These include a confident businesswoman saying “I am my own captain”, a family arriving for their holiday saying “A crew like no other” and a female Captain with the line “Born to fly”.

You can watch a behind-the-scenes making of the TV ad here:

Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic CEO, says: “At the core of our business is the understanding that every one of our people can be themselves at work and that they belong. They truly are the thing that sets us apart and the reason customers choose to fly with us. We know that the touchpoints that matter most and the experiences that differentiate Virgin Atlantic, are driven by our people and that’s why it was so important they’re at the heart of this campaign.”

Annabelle Cordelli, vice-president, brand and marketing at Virgin Atlantic, says: “It’s more important than ever that we reimagine the world and lead the way with fresh ideas. Virgin Atlantic is uniquely placed to do this because of the rich individuality of our people and our customers: the unique people who march to their own drumbeat, fly their own path, see things from a different angle. So it makes sense to start by championing them – and then apply this spirit to everything we do. After two challenging years when life has been on pause, it’s time to see the world differently.”

Virgin Atlantic has recently reinstated its full portfolio of US destinations for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, flying to destinations including New York, Los Angeles Miami, San Francisco, Orlando, Boston, Washington, and Seattle and looks forward to launching new services to Austin, Texas on May 25, 2022.

Later in the year, Virgin Atlantic will also take delivery of its newest aircraft, the A330neo, a “crucial step” in Virgin Atlantic’s fleet transformation programme creating one of the youngest, greenest fleets in the sky and also taking its onboard experience to new heights.