A Close-Up Look At Virgin Red's New Strategy
Imagine a multi-national loyalty program built around one of the world’s largest brands. And low-and-behold, inside a hushed, awestruck boardroom, executives sit around a table witnessing exciting new updates that are expected to take the program into the realm of revolution. But from the very back of the room, one junior ad sales executive timidly raises his hand and asks: “What are the value of these changes for the customer?”
Well, the value of program upgrades are zero…if the customer doesn’t even know that they exist.
That’s the challenge Virgin Red is trying to solve for its Virgin Red campaign update schedule in the UK. The Virgin Red loyalty program is the so called “red thread” that connects customers and the myriad of Virgin brands together — where members can earn and spend Virgin Points on products and experiences, and also participate in community, charity, and environment support initiatives — is receiving a host of enticing new upgrades to its rewards roster. These expansions span everything from everyday, instantly gratifying items like a coffee or food products, to “extraordinary experiences” available across the Virgin group, like cinema, concert tickets, and holidays.
Virgin Red also acknowledges the trend in social good loyalty by offering members the opportunity to donate their rewards to charitable causes as part of the Points for Good programme, with the Edinburgh Food Project and National Autistic Society among the preliminary beneficiaries.
The past year has been undoubtedly turbulent for brand strategy; this program was originally slated to hit the markets at the time the first national lockdown hit the UK last March. The resulting pandemic complications forced the team to halt the roll out and conduct a soft launch last summer via users of the Virgin Red Vaults app. Now that users can express their behaviors through physical, personal contexts — especially now that “Freedom Day” is in full swing in the UK — it makes perfect sense why this upgraded rewards portfolio focuses so exuberantly on experiential, interactive themes.
But these new rewards are only half the story
The big picture is completed when considering the extensive advertising campaign the creative minds behind the Virgin Red activations have enacted to bring a locus of awareness on the brand. Like the essence of the rewards themselves, the campaign — created in collaboration between agencies Glow London and Truant London — focuses heavily on indulging in personal experiences with the world at large. The campaign is called ‘Whatever Blows Your Bubble’ and will run across TV, video-on-demand, radio, social and display ads. The creative for the video media features a young woman chewing bubble gum while daydreaming about blowing a bubble so big that she could take off and fly.
Mass media isn’t the only approach taken for this rollout. Pop-up style activations aim to engage local audiences and draw targeted attention to the campaign and its lifestyle-oriented themes. A one-day event on July 14th saw an ice cream van levitated into the air with red balloons featuring a 15-foot-high ladder that could be climbed by guests who wanted to pick up some ice cream. The van offered customisable toppings options (all colored red, of course) ranging from sweet sprinkles to paprika crisps, chilli flakes, and ketchup.
Kelly Best, chief marketing officer of Virgin Red, explains how broad audience sentiments were crucial to crafting the creative strategy:
“This summer, we wanted to bring to life how rewards really do revolve around Virgin Red’s members by creating a truly unique experience on London’s South Bank inspired by our new brand film “Find what blows your bubble”.
And as Virgin Red marketing director Linn Frost explains, the overarching concept aims to embody the spirit of seizing a moment and grabbing life with both hands:
“It embodies the spirit of ‘Virgin-ness’. We worked on the concept while we were deep in lockdown and the thought of blowing a bubble and floating across the city felt so refreshing,” she says. “It’s the exact feeling we want our members to have — to embrace and enjoy every moment.”