Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Virgin 25th Anniversary Ad




It seems like this is the ad everyone wants to talk about at the moment, so in a way, that means it 'must' be good.

But personally, I'm conflicted. Although I love all things 80's, and can certainly appreciate an array of beautiful women, I'm less keen on sexism.

Does the fact that it's set in 1984 make it okay, in the same way that the sexism of Mad Men doesn't indicate a prejudiced writing staff, but rather a desire for authentic period detail?

Not really. Mad Men critiques sexism. This ad celebrates it.

102 comments:

Anonymous said...

The new Virgin ad is already my contender for ad of the year. Beats the socks off that Golf ad you were harping on about.

Anonymous said...

The Virgin ad, while not mould-breaking, granted, is bloody good. Really well observed, nicely written and beautifully cast and the use of 'Relax' is pretty inspired. Kicks BA right in the balls too.

the golden oracle of truth said...

The new Virgin ad is officially pathetic, sexist shit (and the woman eyeing up the pilot doesn't excuse it) because I said so.

And because the chances of seeing a yuppie with a mobile in 1985 (the year of the first ever mobile call) are miniscule, so the cliches are just fucking lazy. As is the use of Relax. Pretty inspired? It must have taken a five-minute music search for that one.

Anonymous said...

Can we please get a grip people.

This is utter shite.

It's crass, cheesy, badly written and cliched. Big phones and Rubix cubes? Give me a fucking break.

They've even tarnished the track for me now. That's right, they've tarnished a track written about bumming a leather clad stranger into next week. That's quite an achievement.

Anonymous said...

dear golden oracle of....well not truth.

1985 the first ever mobile call? Try 1971.

The first Virgin flight was in 1984 incidentally.

And hand held mobile phones (analogue) first appeared in 1983. Rare maybe in 84, but around.

All very lazy on your part.

And sexist? I think you're living in 1982....still a big fan of Ben Elton?

rhayter said...

I know that ads aren't necessarily based on reality, but having just flown Virgin I can tell that the experience was nothing like the glamorous facade of that rather poor new execution. What does that ad tell me? That when Virgin launched, the stewardesses were tasty.

Anonymous said...

Can someone please, in an orderly manner, explain to me why the Virgin ad is sexist?

Anonymous said...

The ad should be withdrawn under the trade descriptions act too.

I recently flew Virgin and found no good looking stewardesses.

Not one.

Instead I had to resort to wanking up the back of a sleeping stranger next to me. I think this would have made a more realistic ad if I'm honest.

Anonymous said...

rhayter

it tells you all the brand values. what else d'you need to know?

Anonymous said...

11:03 AM, are you blind?

It's sexist because the overall message of the ad isn't fly with us because we offer the best service, the most reliable flights, more destinations, award winning food, more movies, music etc.

It firmly says: FLY WITH VIRGIN. OUR STEWARDESSES ALL LOOK LIKE SLUTS.

Anyway, I don't like the ad because it's sexist.

I don't like it because it's absolute fucking shite.

the golden oracle of making pedants look daft said...

Scamp chose not to put this up earlier because I was rude at the end.

Look, 11.02 I apologise. The first ever mobile call in the UK was made on Jan 1 1985: http://80sactual.blogspot.com/2005/05/1985-live-aid-mobile-phone-in-england.html

Heathrow Airport is in the UK.

Now who's lazy?

And if I need to explain why this ad is really sexist, I feel very sorry for you.

Anonymous said...

Scamp, are you seriously offended by that? You're 40 not 83.

Anonymous said...

What brand values?

That we only hire stewardesses that look like they could suck the rust of a Raleigh Chopper?

Anonymous said...

the opening shot says it all. ITS THE PITS.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it obvious that the people defending this ad worked on it or at the agency that did it and are just doing a bit of spin.

And another thing mobile phones like that drew a crowd in 1989 let alone 1984. I used to have one.

Anonymous said...

im with 11.03 am

why's this ad sexist?
also, to say this is a contender for ad of the year is quite worrying i think, wouldn't you say?

it's a good ad at best, nothing spectacular.

that new Audi ad, now that's a fucking great ad.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, it's one of the worst things I've ever seen. And not because it's sexist for God's sake. But because it's shit.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing sexist about appreciating beauty and sexiness. Only ugly people think there is.

Anonymous said...

Second ad within a year to reference the miners strike. The trend spotters are going mad.

I heard that the next Sony ad is Miners striking on a zoetrope.


As for this? It's just a bit of fun really. A little bit funny. To me all it says is Virgin was a breath of fresh air with their bright red uniforms.

Anonymous said...

Scamp,

You've really gone and dug yourself a massive hole fella.
So, Lynx, one of BBH's most famous and long running campaign's wasn't completely rooted in sexism?

You'd better point out to Mr Hegarty where he got it so badly wrong.

Scamp said...

At the risk of digging myself further into your alleged hole...

I think your point gets to the heart of why the Virgin ad is sexist. For a body spray, a sell of 'you will be surrounded by attractive women' is at least relevant. But for an airline?

Anonymous said...

"And the dolphins are stuck in the tuna nets!"

Anonymous said...

Spray this cheap shit on, and women are should mono-brain celled they'll have no other option but to flock to you.

Yeah, very un-sexist.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you Scamp.

I think all this ad says to me is Virgin has absolutely nothing worth talking about, other than slutty stewardesses.

Something which I'm afraid they'll never beat Ryan Air on. Those girls look like they've been plucked straight from a Polish rub shop.

Anonymous said...

A female wrote the ad. Does that mean it's still sexist? It's like saying a black man can't be racist...

Scamp you muppet. Still think Man City are gonna win the premiership? You've got more chance shitting snow. Or winning a pencil.

Gordon Comstock said...

11.08
The figure I associate most readily with Virgin's brand values is not a tall pneumatic air hostess, but a short bearded man.

Are they going to remix it with Branson in drag?

Anonymous said...

There's nothing sexist about saucy bints.

Seriously though, is this meant to be a poor mans rip off of the catch me if you can scene. Cause that is all it looks like

Gordon Comstock said...

And wasn't the Lynx campaign, originally at least, a kind of comment on sexist advertising conventions?

If This Is A Blog Then What's Christmas said...

Lynx is meta-sexist. The ads suggest that ugly men are so thick, they'll believe that a spray of Lynx will get beauties to flock to them.

And I'll have a quid on Scamp winning a pencil this year.

Scamp said...

I'm sure Robinho could shit me a snow-covered pencil. He can do most things.

Anonymous said...

'I say, a female has just entered the saloon!'

Anonymous said...

Sexist? Jesus H Christ. Come on, sort your heads out.

Good ad. If that ad is sexist, so is half the other crap littering our commercial breaks.

Account Handler said...

Doesn't this ad say Virgin was a glamourous breath of fresh air were they were launched; a head-turner. What's wrong with using beautiful women (or men for that matter) to demonstrate that point? Especially when it's so tongue in cheek.

I like it.

paul said...

Does anyone know what the record is that the lad in OurPrice store is holding?

(presumed it would be the soundtrack, but can't find a pic of that record)

And I'd say not sexist, good ad, move on.

Anonymous said...

Big Country- Steel Town

rhayter said...

Account Handler: you're 100% correct, that's what the ad says.

But that was 25 bloody years ago.

Just like Orange, Virgin Atlantic needs to come up for a reason to exist in consumers minds – preferably a new one.

That's a really tough job that goes beyond rolling out a new TV spot.

If Virgin's brand values are still "we're better than BA", then they need to define what that means in 2009.

Maybe Rainey Kelly have a long-running campaign that follows this execution that will do that job.

But I doubt it.

The Station Master said...

Big Country - Steel Town. Released in November 1984 so about 11 months early for a 25th anniversary ad.

Now that's pedantic.

Anonymous said...

12.45 is right. Labeling this sexist won't do at all. The idea - as has already been said - is that when Virgin launched it was a kick up the arse to the tired cartel of long-haul carriers. And the brand continues to make waves.

Remember the 'party in the sky' stuff with on-board entertainers etc? Not every idea Virgin launched with was a good one. But the general ethos - we can make being stuck in a metal cylinder for hours on end a bit more fun - set Virgin apart then. And still does today.

It's not Ad of the Year. But I'd rather watch this than see a septuagenarian ex-punk gurneying without a vest on. That Swiftcover ad nearly made me hurl last night......

Anonymous said...

Who did this ad? It's not very memorable at all. And that is the basic hallmark for me of whether an ad is good.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the ad is sexist at all. But if some should think so, so what?

And Scamp, of course it's a selling point if the stewardesses you're being attended by for several hours are hot.

RIP Hooters Airline.

Anonymous said...

Really nice critique that, Scamp.

Anonymous said...

Mr Beattie did this idea for McCain about 5 years ago. the Valerie Singleton news story ad set authentically in 1979-the year McCain chips hit Britain.

its not just shite, its a rip-off.

Alan Wolk said...

The YT version you have up isn't playing any audio. At least not on my machine.

This YT link works, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KS_6HHQ7jOA for anyone having similar issues.

Spot would have worked a lot better for me without the final dialogue bit "I need to change my ticket" - unless that's a bit of a UK in-joke that I'm missing.

Anonymous said...

Bugger the ad. Why is Dave Grohl sat down staring at them 1 minute into the ad????

Scamp said...

Thanks, Alan. I've replaced my link with yours.

Anonymous said...

To those of you criticising the use of cliched iconography, you're missing the point. They deliberately went over the top with the braces, the giant mobile phone, the Wimpy, the Rubix Cube, the arcade game. It's gentle humour, sending up our current obsession with everything retro (and the tendency of movie directors to place "period" props in the foreground when setting the scene).

It also references Catch Me If You Can (with the stewardesses) and is not remotely sexist.

And most importantly, I knew it was a Virgin ad about 3 seconds in, I enjoyed watching it, and it genuinely resonates with their brand identity. No, Virgine doesn't exclusively employ stunning stewardesses, but they are a cooler airline than most of their competitors.

Anonymous said...

The product detail seems to be missing from the ad.

Surely they should be a title at the end, telling me how much it costs to finger one of these slappers in the loo?

George said...

Our industry has been using beautiful men and women to sell products for many years, so I don't think sexism is an issue.

I like the ad, but surely it's a little early to be calling it ad of the year isn't it?!

Traktor shot the ad in case anyone is interested.

Anonymous said...

i found this site looking for the advert to watch and after viewing it in the office we discussed it thoroughly, but then we read the comments; they are a bit sad if you want to argue that the Tshirt the kid 6 from the back was wearing wasnt produced till 88 then you ought to get a life sad commenters.

Anyway i like the advert and thought it was clever maybe too clever for some.

thanks for putting it online for me to see.

Anonymous said...

what's wrong with being sexy?

rhayter said...

"they are a cooler airline than most of their competitors." Anon 4:32

You may not think that after 10 hours sat in a broken seat, being periodically served some of the worst airline food I've tasted in years, like I was two weeks ago.

Anonymous said...

Never flown with them but might be tempted by the tail on show in this ad. That sexist enough?

Anonymous said...

does anyone else want to smash everyone of those hot virgin girls back doors in?

i do.

Sell! Sell! said...

**applauds 4:59**

Anonymous said...

Anon 4.57.
What are you doing here? Get away. Be off with you, non advertising scoundrel! You know not what you say, nor what you do. You cannot simply critique we advertising gurus. This is not an 'advert'. This is an ad, a spot, a film, it's the the work, a commercial but never an advert. We know better than you, neigh, we ARE better than you! Be gone, and never by god return to this sacred space!

Anonymous said...

'here comes the girls' would probably work quite well on it, too.
which is to say this aint original or anything?
ad of the year?
more like pick of the weak.

Anonymous said...

11.10 don't worry I can live with that thanks. your sense of humour didn't last long did it?

and rhayter - it's about the 25th anniversary, so yes the messaging is, funnily enough, about then rather than now. .

Anonymous said...

incidentally Lynx was a rip off of Hai Karate - from the 70's......

Anonymous said...

rhayter so you had a bad flight? that explains it then.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Lynx do a Airline?

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=0QmcHdzwwiQ

Anonymous said...

scamp - shame on you for not putting up my hai karate comment.

it's a true fact and you know it....

Make the logo bigger said...

Mild Sigh Club.

I also have that BC album in the basement. Somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Alan - the 'i need to change my job / i need to change my ticket' line is a 'reference' or a rip from a very famous scene in 'Catch me if you can.'

In fact the whole ad is done that way... which I don't mind. I think it's bloody funny and we're taking it all a little bit too seriously.

It's just a bit of fun. Love the directing.

Anonymous said...

weak script in my view. rip-off of 'here come the girls' by mother, only much shitter and uninteresting. Why do teams just copy an existing succesful ad? very lazy.

Anonymous said...

Hallo Scamp
Let me open um can of worms.
There's a famous airline - "the one that others talk about", it's been claimed in their ads.
Couple of years ago, they changed their 1st ad agency after close to 20 years.
This was the ad agency that came up with the concept of showing the airline's female crew.
Many movements have slammed the stewardess-featured ads as sexist.
Yet the new agency's ad continue to feature stewardess - despite protests.
Not saying I agree. But it would seem that sexism contributes significantly to a brand's success.

Cate said...

since when did a woman who looks good and dresses well deserve to be called 'slutty' by other women who in the same breath sling around accusations of sexism?

that stinks of jealousy and a very shallow understanding of femininity

feminism is about strong capable women deserving respect in society from BOTH sexes

women calling other women sluts due to misplaced envy and prejudiced judgement is reprehensible and at best pointless, at worst a step backwards for sisterhood

the ad is only sexist if women have to dress badly and look awful in order to be respected

shame on those who think that...

rhayter said...

Anons 7.03 and 7.21:

Yes, I had a bad flight, but I've had bad flights with several airlines (I will never fly Ryannair again). What pisses me off about this spot (actually, more the strategy than the execution) is that it tells me nothing. Who cares if they've been going 25 years? How is that of benefit to me as a prospective customer? Do they have the best safety record, the widest seats, the lowest fare, the most extensive network, the best food, the most attentive service (they could try the 'fingering by the loos' approach, even)? Or even are they just 'better than BA'?

This ad just feels like they're saying "we were really something, 25 years ago." It's a bit sad.

The bad flight just intensified my feelings on the matter, that's all.

For the record, the stewardess in this spot look great. Fabulous legs. They'd be coming up for 50 now though...

Anonymous said...

yeah, I need to change my ticket cause business class ticket comes with a blowjob.


really bad ad.

Scamp said...

Walk easy, 9.09 - your comment went up. Delayed because comment moderation is on and believe it or not I sometimes do other things like go home, have dinner, watch The Wire...

]-[appy Thought said...

The last time I saw a girl dressed in red picked out through a desaturated shot was in Schindler's List, which I thought was a bit disturbing.

Still, I like it for featuring Our Price. Nice little nod to all the pies Virgin have their thumbs in.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what Virgin cabin crew think about being represented as a bevy of sexy girls?

Juliana said...

it's bad and it makes me sick. Sorry, can't have it. Even though the soundtrack really rocks.

Reminds me of Robert Palmer's MTV...and an old Ally Mcbeal episode that parodies it...

Anonymous said...

rhayter - sorry, but that is what everyone else is doing: 'we've got bigger seats', 'we've got beds', 'we give you a limo'......

And actually Virgin do run ads about their product points. But well done them for doing something which isn't that, and also a bit of a laugh and, well, not as INTENSE as some of the people on here! To me this ad is all about 'fuck it, we don't care what people think' - which is very Virgin.

There's also nothing wrong with looking back. It's only certain media types and clients with no balls who are obsessed with the thought that the now is everything.

Cate - you're absolutely right. The definition of feminism is much changed.

Anonymous said...

Scamp - fair play. Especially if you're watching The Wire.

Question is: are you good Po-lice?

Don Johnson said...

It's a bit bloody lazy isn't it? When Wispa did their 'From a time when...' print ad, it looked quite fresh. But now it's been done, done and done.

This is just a bit shite. But still not half as bad as those Virgin Media ads feat. Branson dressed as in random disguises.

As for it 'mocking our current obsession with everything retro' as one person said, what a load of bollocks. Sounds to me like something that was in the brief but they never got close to achieving.

Scamp said...

I've watched so much of it, I do feel I could bust a drug ring myself now. Though having Bunk and McNulty with me would certainly help...

Anonymous said...

Scamp - so the story goes, the crims in Baltimore used to watch it to pick up tips!

Just started watching Generation Kill. But don't think anything will live up to The Wire.

brake dollinge said...

I hear the ominous trundle of a period pastiche bandwagon. BTA'll be like I love 198whatever, complete with kate thornton popping up between this and hovis to squeal about how awesome deely boppers were. brilliant.

and people who are inclined to find things sexist will find it sexist, those who aren't, won't. dunno who's right.

Anonymous said...

Re The Wire. Big mistake killing him off though don't you think?

Scamp said...

Killing who off?

Anonymous said...

wind up scamp. and not by me....

Anonymous said...

Please, for the love of Dawkins, do not put up any Wire spoilers.

I hear The Corner is as good if not better though.

Anonymous said...

Re the Wire: You'll see and when you do I hope you'll do a post on it.

Anonymous said...

5.59 Don't know about better. The Corner is the real documentary version of The Wire isn't it?

Littlewilly said...

I KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT COMMUNICATION, SO LET ME TELL YOU HOW IT IS…

This ad is as crass and dated as the medium it uses:

- TV was the wonder-medium of the 80s
- Virgin was the wonder-airline of the 80s

All RKCR/Y&R/PAP has successfully demonstrated with this ad is that they, Virgin Atlantic and TV as a medium have absolutely nothing new and relevant to say in 2009.

Another nail in the coffin for Above the Line toss, which continues to live in the past, and will soon be extinct.

And don't play the “all this hot debate just proves it’s a great ad” card. All it proves is some people know what’s going on, and some people simply haven’t a clue.

God I’m good.

Anonymous said...

there is no line anymore.

get with it.

Anonymous said...

It's false advertsinging IMO. I've flown Virgin PE and upper class a few times now and the staff just aren't that glamorous. If they were, now that would be sexist.

So what are Virgin saying? We don't employ mingers, lol

Anonymous said...

littlewilly

yeah cos no one watches TV anymore do they. Or goes out...or does anything that isn't digital.

change the record (or maybe you prefer mp3 track?).

Anonymous said...

Littlewilly, I agree with everything you say but can't help thinking you're also part of the problem Having worked in both digital and above the line agencies I've seen that both of them forward their own agendas in petty ways. Despite appearances digital agencies seems to be standing in the way of integration (the true goal) just as much as so called traditional ones. Sneering is chippy and ultimately destructive.

Littlewilly said...

Hi Anonymous (1)

Yes people watch TV. But using it as a standalone medium is inherently dated. At least campaigns like Walker's "Do Us a Flavour" use TV to take you on a journey (through other media). TV for the sake of TV is just a dead end. Expensive adwank. And that's before you get onto the whole issue of targeting, and lack thereof.


Hi Anonymous (2)

You are indeed right!

To make a sweeping generalisation, digital creatives are just jealous of the bigger budgets and supposed glamour of ATL, and the fact their mums just don't understand what they do for a living because half way through Coronation Street they can't say "Look mum.... that's one of mine!" and get a big sloppy kiss on the cheek. They're annoying little know-it-alls!

On the other hand, ATL are nervous that they might seem behind the times, that they don't know the latest lingo or Web 2.0 gizmo, and that a bunch of spotty digital cowboys from Hoxton with funny haircuts and seemingly no knowledge of brand guardianship are seizing the power. Unfortunately this power struggle often turns bitchy and even more unfortunately ends up being played out as a petty point-scoring competition in front of the client - which is, as you rightly point out destructive.

Only problem is that, with times as they are becoming, advertising like this Virgin spot will most likely be first to get the chop. So there is a very harsh business reality why these sorts of ads shouldn't be made.

Anyway, I must stop rabbiting away like a jumped up tosser and get back to the big sexy campaign I'm currently working on: re-sizing some web banners for a leading regional furniture retailer.

Have a great weekend all.

Littlewilly x

Anonymous said...

4.24 and littlewilly

either extreme, 'above the line' or 'digital is all' thinking are wrong. and they're not really relevant either as it prevents integration.

I think more and more trad media bods are appreciating this and, unfortunately, a lot of the digital guys aren't. or don't want to. in an increasingly fragmented media spread, this is, ironically, very old fashioned.

so who are the dinosaurs, really?

Anonymous said...

Littlewilly: How is TV, even if on it's own, a 'dead end'? This is why you digi guys end up making fools of yourselves.

I guess Balls was a dead end then? Or Gorilla? Both of these are really just TV ideas. (Please don't claim they are multi-media).

Like all good TV nowadays, they then get PR'ed (as TV always has) and bandied about on You Tube and other channels (which probably then makes them then 'digital' in your book?) But in essence - they're just standalone TV ads.

Trad online ads, now there's a real dead end - you ever clicked on one? Funnily enough the only ones that are remotely interesting are, er, TV based....

And about TV getting the chop first. Barclay's have just piled all their budget into it this year. And expect more to do the same with people staying at home in front of the box. As far as I know a family or even a couple don't yet gather around a PC.

Also, isn't the latest reporting saying that online spend is due to plummet. I haven't seen the same reported for other media...is this the re-adjustment after all the digital hot air in 08?

Anonymous said...

Ok.

Let's pretend we don't spend a vast majority of every day over-thinking advertising.

As a normal viewer, does this spot:

- catch my attention?
- make me chuckle?
- differentiate Virgin Atlantic?
- make me feel that little bit warmer towards Virgin?

I know what I think, but maybe I should go away, think deeply about it, debate it's production values and ponder it's questionable moral positioning?

Anonymous said...

I assume you'd argue it would not have been sexist if the women had been ugly hags?

Scamp said...

They would never have made the ad with unattractive women. Which just proves how sexist they are.

dollars said...

all the people who think this is sexist should really just shut up. if it's a sexist ad then the girls in it wouldn't star in it i'm sure. They are just virgin employees who got the chance to do the ad for virgin. but i'm glad they decided to cos they are HOT! especially the blonde in the middle. anyone know of any of the casts names? best advert of the year. and all you twats thinking the music is shit... wot would u rather have? i think it's a wkd choice that isn't a generical peice of rubbish music like BA's classical crappy music... by the way i don't work for virgin

Anonymous said...

Why can't people just enjoy a light hearted reminiscence...? Can you remember what you were doing 25 years ago - it tugged on my memories. Stop over analysing and enjoy the humour.

Anonymous said...

Chill people, it is an ad created to evoke memories of the 80's. Sit back, 'relax' and enjoy...

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else see the irony in the fact that Branson was berated in the 80's for glamorising cabin crew... here he is advertising the fact that the Virgin crew are gorgeous..!

Humerous ad, just enjoy!!!!

Anonymous said...

It's Branson's way of having a laugh, its eye catching because the stewardesses are dressed in a way that many men think is hot, it appeals to women because they feel if they look like they will draw the attention for men. That may sound shallow and cliched but there is a reason cliches exist. The ad has momentum too which makes the subconscious think Virgin are moving forward, it shows they've been around a while, and last but not least its probably the most successful ad of the year because we're all talking about it! You can't buy better advertising!

Anonymous said...

Everyone here only thinks it's a good ad because they are OLD.

Anonymous said...

The mobile phone in the ad is wrong. And so is 11.02 - he/she is getting mixed up between mobile phones and cell phones. Mobile phones in cars, using a different system, go back way a long way, and a form of mobile in a briefcase was available in the 1960s. Work on CELLULAR mobile technology began in the late 1960s and the first call on a prototype cell phone (dubbed "the boot" because of its shape) was in 1973 - not the first ever mobile phone call ever at all, just the first cell phone call.

The first commercial hand-held cellular mobile - the Motorola 8000x - was unveiled in America in 1983, on sale there in 1984 and here in the UK in 1985. Comedian Ernie Wise made the first ever UK cell phone call on 1/1/1985.

The '80s "bricks" were analogue phones. Work began on the currently used GSM digital system in 1982 and the first call was in 1991.