If a metaphorical cloud has been hanging over the East Coast since spring officially began, Virgin Atlantic has been out to lift it in select cities with figurative rays of sunshine.
The effort, coincidentally, also draws attention to Virgin's U.S. Twitter handle, @VAAintheUSA, and helps position Virgin as a bright spot in a gray world of travel.
In the past few weeks, the airline's Fly in the Face of Ordinary (#FITFOO) campaign has sent six cabin crew members to the streets of Washington, D.C., Boston, and New York in three branded Mini Coopers, bringing what Virgin Atlantic calls a "splash of red to dreary days on the ground."
"They're our best brand ambassadors," Joshua Crouthamel, corporate communications program manager at Virgin, says of the cabin crew members. "We like to use them when possible - they're the face of the brand."
The campaign started out March 11 in Washington, D.C. On March 19, Virgin Atlantic began targeting Boston. And, from March 25 to 27, the crew was in New York.
According to Crouthamel, Virgin has been watching Twitter to find users who have been having not-so-great days and finding ways to cheer them up with aforementioned "[splashes] of red."
Recipients include: a New Yorker who lost a weekly Metrocard and was rewarded with a monthly Metrocard, cupcakes, and champagne; as well as a Boston-based writer who was running late to a meeting and received a ride; a bachelorette who got a hard-to-score reservation at a classy champagne bar; and a bored employee stuck in a meeting who received a sugar fix.
In order to participate, Washington, D.C., Boston, and New York residents needed to follow @VAAintheUSA and tweet their problems with the hashtag #FITFOO.
According to Crouthamel, @VAAintheUSA gained an average of about 100 followers a day in each market during this campaign. As of Wednesday, the U.S. brand handle has about 4,600 followers. (@VirginAtlantic has 135,000 followers.)
Fly in the Face of Ordinary is a new campaign for Virgin in 2013.
"We're just coming up with fun ways of making it come to life and activating Fly in the Face of Ordinary," Crouthamel says. "We hear so much that flying has become a chore and it feels like a plane ticket is just like getting a bus ticket or jumping on public transportation. At Virgin Atlantic, we like to take every opportunity to treat it like the first flight you ever took."
Like the on-the-ground surprises, Crouthamel says Virgin's focus is on pampering - whether that's through unlimited free onboard cocktails or seatback entertainment that includes films still in theaters.
"We're just looking for interesting ways to remind people that flying can be fabulous and we think of ourselves as splash of red in a weary world of gray," Crouthamel says.
This is the second big push for @VAAintheUSA after a daily December holiday gift giveaway. @VAAintheUSA launched in September 2012.
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Lisa Lacy is senior staff writer at ClickZ. In addition to ClickZ, her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.
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