Virgin America, the only airline based in Silicon Valley and the only U.S. carrier to offer a consistent tech-forward product across its entire fleet of aircraft, teamed up with Google to launch an interactive brand campaign that allows travelers to test drive their actual flight before they take off – thanks to Google Maps/Street View. As the first major U.S. commercial airline to touch down on Google Map's Street View, the central focus of the campaign was to offer travelers a 360-degree, interactive first-person tour of the Virgin America aircraft they would be able to fly from - at any of the award-winning airline's 22 destinations.
Many airlines show products in their ad campaigns that may in reality only be available on a small portion of their fleet. For travelers who may be new to Virgin America, the Google Street View experience brings the airline's product difference to life in an authentic way. There is no bait and switch. Flyers can tour the actual product they'll fly on when they book us from any of Virgin America's destinations – just like they experience the rest of their world via Google Maps. With an audience of sophisticated and tech-forward travelers and in an ad environment where its competitor's outspend the airline by a margin of 10:1, this creative product integration and campaign communicated the airline's unique product consistency and quality messages – in an authentic and innovative way that resonated with modern travelers.
Virgin America has created a loyal following of travelers thanks to its innovative and consistent in-flight experience – something which is unique in the U.S. airline market. With an all new fleet of custom-designed Airbus A320 Family aircraft, Virgin America offers fleetwide touch-screen personal entertainment, WiFi and power outlets at every seat. Virgin America wanted to broaden that awareness in an authentic way that would break through with skeptical and modern audiences – all within limited ad budgets compared to its major competitors.
Along with our creative agency, Eleven Inc., we created a brand new way for people to get a sense of just what sets Virgin America apart from other airlines – by literally taking them there – without a filter. Through this campaign, Virgin America became the first major U.S. commercial airline to touch down on Google Map's Street View – and expanded that integration into a first-of-its kind brand campaign.
The Google "Seat View" campaign includes the integration of actual 360 degree Google Street View tours of the airline's Airbus A320 cabin into the airline's web product pages, interactive outdoor and immersive digital experiences, like OOH billboards, digital banners, and interactive bus shelters where users can interact with the Google Street View experience on a large-panel touch-screen. Through interfaces like touch-screen ads placed at bus stop shelters, travelers could virtually tour an un-re-touched view of Virgin America cabins. Via the web and Google Maps, travelers can navigate to their nearest airport location, then explore the exact plane they will fly out on – if they choose to fly on Virgin America. Travelers are able to virtually walk onto the plane, where they are welcomed by the hip mood-lighting Virgin America is known for. From there, "Seat View" users are able to see the airline's exclusive First Class Cabin, which features eight plush white leather seats, each with up to 55 inches of seat pitch – 7 inches more the than industry average. Next up on the virtual tour is the Main Cabin Select and Main Cabin, which feature custom-designed black leather seating with a deeper, more comfortable pitch – and in-seat power outlets. All of Virgin America's seats are equipped with the Red Entertainment System, which puts movies on-demand, live TV, music and food/drink ordering on demand in the control of all Virgin America travelers.
The campaign was amplified via PR and a survey tied to a third-party analysis of data provided by Routehappy, an independent product differentiation platform for air travel, which confirms just how consistent the airline's product is versus the competition. The survey included stats like the following:
Google Street View launched in November 2015 as a campaign about transparency, to showcase the consistency of our product and service. While most airlines promote certain products and services that may only be available in a small portion of their fleet, with "Seat View" travelers are able to experience each of our planes, exactly as they are in the closest city to them. This way, there's no surprises, as some travelers are used to when boarding with some of our competitors.
This branding campaign is the first of its kind. People use Google Street View all the time to get a sense of where they are going, or want to go; it's a way to explore the world. Partnering with Google to bring that same exploration to travelers was a way to better inform them of what to expect when traveling with Virgin America.
This campaign was met with media coverage from outlets including ADWEEK and Fast Company garnering over 10 million in earned impressions. We generated over 600,000 interactions with the Google Seat View experience. The campaign also brought in new visitors to VirginAmerica.com, where we saw a 15% overall lift in unique visitor compared to the year prior.