Virgin Blue could have chosen a better day to announce its long-awaited new brand of Virgin Pacific and the multi-million dollar marketing campaign that will follow.
Just 24 hours earlier or later would have stopped this looking like an April Fool’s Day prank.
But it was good enough for Google and the introduction of its free Gmail service on April 1st 2004, and so it’s good enough for John Borghetti, CEO of Virgin Blue – which as of May 1st will be known as Virgin Pacific, with the aim of dovetailing into both the existing Virgin Atlantic airline and the Virgin masterbrand.
More controversially, the airline has invested a hefty sum in the forthcoming Virgin Pacific marketing campaign by signing none other than teen pop sensation Justin Bieber as a ‘launch celebrity spokesman’ with a cover version of Madonna’s Like a Virgin.
Borghetti would not reveal the costs of this, although marketing analyst and sponsorship specialist Budalla Prill told Australian Business Traveller the cost would “undoubtedly stretch to several million dollars” over the course of the contract.
It’s a brave and ballsy move by Borghetti, and a big number for the cost-constrained airline when fuel prices are already soaring. But Borghetti says it’s all part of his ambitious Game Change plan.
“You can’t just sit on your hands in this business – you have to invest, and you have to compete” Borghetti told Australian Business Traveller. “This is what Virgin Blue has been doing and it's what the new Virgin Pacific will continue to do."
"Our new domestic business class seats has 62 inches of legroom, which is much more than Qantas offers. Qantas has Neil Perry – we’ve got Luke Mangan. Qantas has John Travolta, the star of Saturday Night Fever – we’ve got Justin Bieber, who is giving young girls a fever every night of the week" (we think Bieber would also qualify as the world's best known virgin, but that's a brand tie-in Borghetti isn't going to be drawn on).
A preview promotional video for the new brand campaign can be seen on Virgin Blue’s YouTube channel.
Happy April Fool's Day from the team at Australian Business Traveller!