'Cousins, not twins’ – inside the first united campaigns of Virgin Holidays and Atlantic

Virgin Holidays and Virgin Atlantic have released their first creative work since jointly appointing AMV BBDO, choosing to release two separate campaigns that share a playful ‘visual language’ rather than merging the creative accounts entirely.

The hero TVC of Virgin Atlantic’s ‘Depart the Everyday’ portrays a topsy-turvy world above the clouds where ice cream is dispensed from air con units and children can dance on the ceiling. Virgin Holidays’ ‘The World is Your Playground’ also nods towards the surreal by turning its holiday destinations such as Las Vegas and San Francisco into funfair attractions.

The original decision to bring the two brands closer together came out about at the end of 2017. The travel duo had already selected the same agencies for media and CRM, and creative was a natural extension of the shared marketing strategy.

The brands were also led by the insight that customers generally see them as “one and the same”.

“It makes more sense – and gives us much more cut through in quite a clustered marketplace – when we have more visual cues that sit across both sets of work,” said Claire Cronin, Virgin Atlantic’s senior vice president of marketing.

Many believed Holidays and Atlantic would converge their creative output entirely when they announced the consolidation of their creative accounts in March this year. They did toy with the idea, but it was during AMV BBDO’s pitch that they realised the strategy would not work.

“How they described it was: do you want to be cousins, do you want to be siblings, or do you want to be twins?” explained Cronin.“They showed us the creative execution for twins and we [thought it was] a bit too narrow.

“Atlantic only flies to the US and the Caribbean but Holidays actually travel to anywhere you want to go. So it didn't make sense to do one combined ad: we were in danger of losing some of the customer cut through because [consumers] might think Virgin Holidays only do holidays to America.”

It was this approach to the consolidation that won AMV BBDO the work over Adam&Eve/DDB, Atlantic’s former agency. Cronin and Amber Kirby, Holidays’ new marketing and customer director, chose not to open the pitch outside of their incumbent agencies, partly because they already had “two of the best agencies in the world” and partly because they needed a shop that could turn around two big campaigns in the space of four month.

“We believe in loyalty – for our customers and our agencies,” added Cronin. “If they poured blood, sweat and tears into winning the business then we wanted to give them the opportunity to win it again.”

The campaigns will also share a media plan for the first time, too – again, in order to gain cut-through among their big-budget competitors. Atlantic and Holidays hope the strategy will also prevent media overspending and underspending throughout the year.

“We're massively outgunned in share of voice,” said Cronin. “That’s one of the reasons why we've gone for this slightly surreal experience with the creative to be memorable.”

Find out how the ads were made in the main video above.