Inside Virgin America’s $60K Cyber Monday Stunt

virginamerica22Holiday shopping season has become known for its oddities, such as adults scrumming like rugby players for $2 toasters at big box stores on Black Friday. But a Virgin America stunt on Cyber Monday may take the proverbial cake for unusual marketing.

Via daily deals purveyor Gilt City, the airline offered a domestic roundtrip flight for up to 145 people at $60,000. The buyer will have the discretion in terms of how the capacity of the full-sized plane gets filled. That person will also have the opportunity to name the aircraft itself, an Airbus A320 model. The chosen moniker will be painted on the plane’s side, remaining there for future flights.

Cyber Monday is typically a day when big box retailers get all the attention, so Virgin America hoped its eyebrow-raising marketing twist would cut through the online clutter. “We wanted to do something different,” Patricia Condon, spokesperson for the travel brand, told ClickZ News today. “Hopefully, we succeeded.”

Because the purchaser will be able to take 145 people to any U.S. or Mexico destination served by the airline, Condon said the $60,000 price tag “was a great deal for an entire plane for long-haul flights. Plus, it’s exciting that the winner gets to name the plane.”

According to New York-based Gilt, the offer was pitched to the email lists for its Gilt City, Gilt Groupe, and Jetsetter properties. Social media channels were also used to spread the word.

Here was Virgin America’s tweet pushing the deal yesterday: What’s your reason to celebrate? Invite 145 friends on your very own flight. Name the plane & destination. http://vgn.am/6017RiNt @GiltCity.

The offer went live at Noon EDT, Gilt told ClickZ News, and was sold around 4 p.m. to a woman on the West Coast. The daily deals firm has agreed with the purchaser not to release her name to the public. “There was only one unit,” added Caitlyn Carpanzano, company spokesperson, “because it was such a ‘wow’ offer.”

Virgin America has been extremely active in social media marketing during the past 18 months, including other Gilt campaigns.

In August, according to AllThingsD, the companies partnered to sell 3,300 flight packages in one day, at a cost of between $428 and $3,585 apiece. The packages included premium seats that offered increased legroom, one checked bag, free snacks, drinks, and movies.

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