Virgin America Launches 'Experience' Campaign With The Help Of Its Frequent Flyers

Known for Reinventing its Own Category, Airline Launches Experiential Campaign that Taps Frequent Flyers Known for Shaking Up the Status Quo

Sep 05, 2012, 12:00 ET from Virgin America

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Virgin America, the airline known for reinventing domestic travel, 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:  Creative imagery is available for download 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.  A full list can be found on

  • 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. 

The campaign creative was developed by San Francisco-based agency Eleven. A behind-the-scenes video with a look at the creation of the campaign digital experience can be found here:

"Flying Virgin America is unlike any other experience.  So we wanted to immerse consumers in that experience – by giving them a taste in a variety of mediums," said Mike McKay, Chief Creative Officer at Eleven.

The immersive, cinematic campaign site gives visitors a chance to feel what it's like to fly Virgin America — offering an interactive walk-through of the amenities with both active and passive viewing options. Each screen of the site provides a variety of actionable items (hot spots). By clicking, moving, and shifting these points, the viewer will learn something about Virgin America, get some sort of content, or move the action forwards or backwards. The website was created by Eleven Inc., in close partnership and collaboration with digital production company Tool of North America.

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. 

For video and photos from the new campaign: For photos of the airline's aircraft and cabins:

EDITORS' NOTES: Virgin America is a U.S.–controlled and operated airline and an entirely separate company from Virgin Atlantic. Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group is a minority share investor in Virgin America.

About Virgin America:  Headquartered in San Francisco, Virgin America offers guests attractive fares and a host of innovative features aimed at reinventing air travel.  Virgin America was named "Best Domestic Airline" in the Conde Nast Traveler 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 'Readers' Choice' Awards  and "Best Domestic Airline" in Travel + Leisure's 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 'World's Best' Awards. The airline's new aircraft offer interactive in-flight entertainment systems and power outlets near every seat. Virgin America was the first airline to offer Gogo™ InFlight Internet on every flight and hosts the largest in-flight entertainment library in the U.S. skies.  For more, visit:

About Eleven Inc.:  Eleven Inc. is an independent, truly media agnostic, full-service creative communications agency, brand studio, and innovations lab based in San Francisco, and founded in April 1999. Current clients include Apple, Virgin America, Union Bank, EatonVance, NetApp, San Francisco Travel Association, Sun Valley Resort, Visa, AAA and more.   

SOURCE Virgin America