The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media and digital. View this season's finalists!
From the 8th Annual Shorty Awards


Entered in Contest or Promotion


For years, Virgin America had heard from frequent flyers that they'd love the airline to start service to Hawai'i. Well, we took notice, and once the timing was right we locked in service to the Aloha State, with the first flight landing in Honolulu, Oahu in November 2015.

As an airline that is known to attract business travelers, we knew it was important and wanted to stick true to our "office in the sky" reputation by targeting the Bay Area workaholics and over achievers who never take a break away from the office, even for a Hawaiian vacation.

Channeling the motto "Work Hard, Hawai'i Hard," we launched a five-and-a-half weeklong contest focused on giving entrepreneurial-minded, hard workers the ultimate Hawaiian escape. In true Virgin America fashion, we thought outside of the box about ways to help promote #HAWAIISCAPE and ensure that we received the most submissions possible. In addition to traditional media, the contest was launched with a Magnum P.I. inspired video with Sir Richard Branson, a creative digital campaign that included out-of-home and digital ads, specifically targeted to those who work late, and a microsite that also gave participants the option to earn additional chances to win by sharing their need for a #HAWAIISCAPE on LinkedIn, Facebook and/or Twitter.

Strategy and Execution

Virgin America has the reputation of shaking up the status quo in their quest to reinvent domestic travel and make traveling fun again. Hawai'i has been a top destination longed for by many of our frequent flyers. Therefore, we knew it was important to make the launch of this new route special by creating a big splash that would cater to some of our most loyal consumers. So we sought out to partner with another brand that also offers unique travel experiences.

That is when the partnership with Airbnb was born. This partnership fit together like peanut butter and jelly, as our two brands are both about capturing the transformative aspects of travel. Together, we created the ultimate "Work Hard, Hawai'i Hard" escape with a ride on the inaugural flight and accommodations at an Airbnb estate with Virgin Group founder, Sir Richard Branson.

To launch the contest, we worked with Virgin Produced on an irreverent Magnum P.I. inspired video of Sir Richard Branson making his own mental shift from work to play at his home office and a LinkedIn Influencer post from Sir Richard Branson himself explaining why it is important to refresh and recharge to do your best work.

At the same time, we also launched a #Hawaiiscape microsite ( and digital experience created by creative agency, 1 Trick Pony, to help participants easily tell us why they need a #Hawaiiscape, with additional chances to win to by sharing their entry via LinkedIn, Facebook and/or Twitter.

In addition to sending the contest details out to traditional media, we also launched a "Work Hard, Hawai'i Hard" creative campaign, developed with the San Francisco based agency, Eleven. The creative campaign was targeted towards hard working, entrepreneurial-minded business travelers to vacation to the fullest by bringing to life the fantastical elements of experiencing Hawaii. The campaign included out-of-home and digital ads, specifically targeted to those working late at night.

Additionally, we surprised a worker at Salesforce and also one business traveler at San Francisco International Airport with a #HAWAIISCAPE. To do this we worked with Salesforce to launch an internal competition inviting teammates to show how they "work hard, play hard." The nominees were told to pack for a trip to enjoy a tropical getaway. On the day of the launch, Sir Richard Branson showed up at their office, drew a name out of the hat and whisked the winner away to the airport to board the inaugural flight to Honolulu. Meanwhile at the airport, our very own teammates swept away another traveler, who was in route to Ronald Reagan National Airport for a work-trip but made a last-minute swap to Hawaii instead where she was joined by her family.

Throughout the five-and-a-half week contest, the strategy used by Virgin America ensured that all audiences were reached, not just tech savvy business travelers, but also those who depend on a more conventional way of information.


At Virgin America we are known for thinking outside of the box and pushing the envelope for online engagement. #HAWAIISCAPE was no different, and this digital promotion was one of our most successful to date. The contest yielded more than 65,000 entries, acquired more than 42,000 email opt-ins and helped us gain 8,575 new Elevate members.

The irreverent Magnum P.I. inspired video that helped launch #HAWAIISCAPE, showing Sir Richard Branson making his own mental shift from work to play at his home office was viewed more than 57,300 times, and the LinkedIn Influencer post from Sir Richard Branson himself explaining why it is important to refresh and recharge to do your best work was viewed by more than 90,300 people.

In an effort to harness the power of social media, Virgin America leveraged its 749K followers on Twitter and 668K Facebook likes to gather participants. The #HAWAIISCAPE hashtag become a trend on Twitter and was used over 5.5K times throughout the digital promotion with a total social reach of 9.8 million.

Lastly, thanks to Sir Richard Branson's help in whisking away hard working San Franciscans on a #HAWAIISCAPE as part of the inaugural festivities, our launch into paradise garnered 584,721,090 Media Impressions and $10 Million in Ad Equivalency Value.

This successfully executed digital promotion helped us achieve user engagement, major social awareness and unprecedented media attention.



Entrant Company / Organization Name

Virgin America, 1 Trick Pony, Virgin Produced