Recently, major companies have made efforts to attract a more diverse set of customers by highlighting their support for the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized groups. One airline in particular has captured the attention of passengers due to its unique and welcoming approach. The Virgin Group’s majority-owned British airline, Virgin Atlantic, is on a mission to revolutionize the way airlines worldwide think about and act toward diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
To realize its mission to become the world’s most beloved travel company, Virgin Atlantic is committed to providing its customers with extraordinary journeys by creating memorable, one-of-a-kind experiences. This article delves into Virgin Atlantic’s groundbreaking “See the World Differently” campaign, which seeks to encourage diversity and applaud uniqueness.
The Dream and Purpose of Virgin Atlantic
The airline’s operations and brand identity are guided by the company’s vision and mission. In 2022, the company plans to use its people, purpose, and brand to provide customers with the most beloved journeys. In the cutthroat airline business, Virgin Atlantic aims to stand out by providing passengers with experiences that are both unique and well-thought-out.
Virgin Atlantic serves 35 countries and 5 continents from its hub in the United Kingdom, with routes to 15 cities in the United States. The company’s goal is to provide a setting where all people, employees and passengers alike, feel safe and accepted simply for being themselves.
The “See the World Differently” Effort
After the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic had begun to subside in April 2022, Virgin Atlantic introduced a new brand campaign called “See the World Differently.” The campaign’s goal was to convey the airline’s commitment to diversity and individuality while highlighting the ways in which it stands out from the competition.
The campaign centered on a lively 60-second spot that showed a diverse group of passengers and flight attendants interacting in and around an airport and a Virgin Atlantic plane. The advertisement, set to Gloria Gaynor’s anthem “I Am What I Am,” depicted a celebration of individuality and the freedom to be one’s own person.
Previously, Virgin Atlantic’s PR-led campaigns had focused on showcasing the airline’s iconic red uniformed flight attendants alongside company founder Richard Branson. Instead, the airline has shifted its emphasis to the uniforms of its employees as a way to show that it is “seeing the world differently” and is open to diversity.
Establishing an All-Inclusive Brand Strategy
It was important for Virgin Atlantic that its “See the World Differently” ad campaign resonate with the brand’s challenger credentials of being approachable, humorous, and accepting of all kinds of people. Virgin Atlantic’s VP of global marketing, Annabelle Cordelli, recently spoke about the significance of clarity in the creation of any brand campaign, regardless of its emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Cordelli involved the airline’s internal networks to discuss the campaign’s messaging and how it would be expressed. To make sure that the casting and styling of the characters in the advertisement accurately reflected their unique personalities and the adventures they were about to embark on, a specialist consultant was brought in.
Through consumer testing, Virgin Atlantic was able to determine the efficacy and resonance of the campaign’s message with its intended audience. Cordelli’s strategy centered on making a campaign that was upbeat and meaningful, with a focus on diversity and acceptance.
The Influence of Innovative and Powerful Advertising
Numerous metrics and encouraging responses show that the “See the World Differently” campaign was successful. The campaign was able to capture attention and resound with viewers, as indicated by a 4.2 out of 5 rating on the advertising effectiveness platform System1.
Despite receiving a 4.5, British Airways’ “Every Reason You Fly” campaign quickly eclipsed Virgin Atlantic’s effort. However, Virgin Atlantic’s commitment to diversity and its emphasis on inclusiveness laid the groundwork for future campaigns and initiatives.
Creating an Inclusive Brand
Annabelle Cordelli noted that the development of the “See the World Differently” campaign followed the same fundamentals as applied to any brand campaign, despite being a significant step forward in terms of LGBTQ+ inclusion. Communicating effectively with an intended audience required a firm grasp of goals and a focused message.
It can be difficult to shift a company’s focus from its traditional values to DEI. Cordelli stressed the significance of customizing strategies to suit the needs of individual companies and their brands. To ensure the DEI-based campaign’s messaging is consistent with the brand’s identity and resonates with the target audience, it is necessary to conduct in-depth research, consultation, and learning.
In order to create a campaign that accurately reflects the values of inclusion, it is crucial to consult with diverse groups and incorporate their perspectives and experiences. When implementing campaigns that address delicate issues like diversity and inclusion (DEI), honesty and a willingness to learn from mistakes are paramount, as emphasized by Cordelli.
Proper Methods of Advice Seeking and Education
A thorough familiarity with the various communities served is crucial when crafting an inclusive campaign. To avoid accidentally misrepresenting or alienating any community, Cordelli stressed the importance of research, consultation, and feedback.
Consulting experts, conducting extensive research, and soliciting feedback are all important parts of developing a campaign because no one person can be an expert in every subset of the population. Assuring that a campaign will have the desired effect on its target audience requires careful consideration of any potential sensitivity issues that may arise in its messaging and implementation.
When it comes to effectively reaching and engaging diverse communities, the power of diverse experiences and perspectives cannot be overstated. Brands can benefit from creating inclusive, effective, and meaningful campaigns by tapping into this pool of information.
Campaign Reactions and Replies
The “See the World Differently” campaign by Virgin Atlantic was lauded for the company’s new policies and the inclusive stance it took. Airlines’ gender-neutral uniform policy and the commercial’s use of Gloria Gaynor’s “gay anthem” were praised by Marty Davies, co-chief executive of the LGBTQ+ organization Outvertising.
However, skeptics noted that Virgin Atlantic temporarily stumbled in its efforts to be more welcoming. Concerns were voiced about the airline’s commitment to inclusivity and diversity after it temporarily suspended its policy of providing uniforms for all genders for flights to Qatar in preparation for the World Cup.
Despite the temporary setback, Virgin Atlantic’s brand campaigns that promote diversity and individuality remain popular with its target demographic. The airline’s efforts to foster a more welcoming culture for its personnel and passengers serve as a model for competitors.
The World Cup Controversy
Critics were concerned that Virgin Atlantic’s “See the World Differently” campaign, which highlighted the airline’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, was undermined by the airline’s decision to temporarily suspend its gender-neutral uniform policy for flights to Qatar for the World Cup. The decision ran counter to the airline’s stated commitment to diversity and inclusion.
This fiasco brought to light the difficulties companies have in dealing with sensitive social and cultural issues. It was a useful reminder that maintaining trust and credibility when advocating for diversity and inclusion requires being consistent and open.
How the public views Virgin Atlantic’s dedication to diversity and inclusion in the future is entirely dependent on the company’s response to the controversy and its subsequent actions. Constant vigilance in upholding brand values and ensuring that actions reflect a genuine dedication to diversity and inclusion is required of all businesses.
Celebrating Diversity and Uniqueness
Despite the temporary setback, Virgin Atlantic deserves praise for its efforts to promote diversity and honor individuality. The airline’s audience has responded positively to its departure from PR-led campaigns and its emphasis on creating experiences that feel brilliantly different.
A good example of how brands can create effective and meaningful campaigns that promote inclusivity is Virgin Atlantic’s “See the World Differently” campaign. Brands can create campaigns that accurately reflect the values of inclusivity and hit the mark with their intended audience by consulting with diverse groups, conducting thorough research, and working with consultants.
Virgin Atlantic has been a leader in the airline industry by advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion from the very beginning. Virgin Atlantic has set itself apart as a pioneer in creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for all by emphasizing diversity and individuality.
See first source: AdWeek
Featured Image Credit: Aric Cheng; Unsplash – Thank you!