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Virgin Australia 3.0: Misstimed media campaign to get travellers back in the air

Virgin Australia 3.0: Misstimed media campaign to get travellers back in the air

I had hoped that today when Bain Capital formally takes ownership of Virgin Australia, we would get at least a hint of what the airline will look like for customers in the future. Unfortunately, so far, no.

Instead, what better way to celebrate the rebirth of an airline than with a badly mistimed PR campaign with an outdated message launched 4 days ago!

Background

Virgin Australia went into administration back in April 2020 due to its precarious financial position and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. After a frantic and fraught bidding period fought over by 4 main suitors, Bain Capital bought the airline in a AU$3.5 billion deal.

‘You can’t keep a good thing down’

Which of course invites the rejoinder: ‘Yes you can!’, or in the light of the resurgence of COVID-19 in South Australia – ‘You can’t keep a BAD thing down’. But anyway, the above phrase is the name of the badly mistimed campaign Virgin Australia is running to re-launch the airline under Bain and to encourage people to fly during the pandemic.

It’s slightly ironic that this comes out a few days before a lot of states are re-imposing border closures and restrictions in the light of the outbreak cluster and potential second wave of the pandemic occurring in South Australia announced yesterday.

The campaign features Annie Jones, a Melbourne schoolgirl and 2020 America’s Got Talent finalist, who is ‘unable to contain her excitement at finally returning to the airport to go on a family holiday with her mum’ to the tune of ‘What you need’ by INXS.

I’m not loving this video. Besides having a thing about children portrayed as adults, I’m not sure how clear the message is, and the timing is dreadful.

The justification

Again, the reasons for this campaign appear mistimed given the outbreak in South Australia, and the consequent border closures and restrictions. Maybe they are pulling it as I write.

The research found 50 per cent of travellers are thinking about their next trip in the lead up to Christmas, and therefore the campaign aims to grow confidence in the market and stimulate demand. As capacity increases and more aircraft return to the sky, Virgin Australia looks forward to welcoming many stood down team members back to work.

Virgin Australia press release

Virgin Australia General Manager Brand & Marketing, Michael Nearhos, tries to explain, and you can immediately see how the statement is several days out of date given the new border closures:

“As state and territory borders safely re-open and more Australians consider travelling, we wanted to show our guests how they’ll feel to finally enter the airport again to go on that holiday they’ve been dreaming of, to conduct business or to reunite with family and friends, and this campaign certainly captures that.”

Virgin Australia General Manager Brand & Marketing, Michael Nearhos

Discount Flights

The good part of this new campaign is that Virgin Australia is dropping over half-a-million fares from just $75 on some routes (includes baggage and seat selection), in their ‘Go You Good Thing’ sale until midnight AEDT Friday 20 November. Given the lack of catering and lounge access, these discounts are only fair to passengers.

2PAXfly Takeout

A muddled subsequently mistimed campaign running on the first day of the new ownership is a bad misstep.

However you can get some well priced fares for this less than full service re-born airline.

I hope Jayne Hrdlicka doesn’t wait too long before announcing future plans for Virgin Australia 3.0

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