10 iconic Virgin ads from the past 10 years
Ever since beginning life as a record store on Oxford Street in the 1970s, the Virgin brand has had its own unique success strategy. More often than not, this special sauce has revolved around innovation, breaking boundaries and saying “yes” when most would say “no”.
This attitude is felt strongly at advertising level, too – as Virgin companies across the Group relish the challenge of showcasing their brands in bold and unusual ways. The creative brains behind Virgin commercials aren’t interested in tepid, play-safe messaging. Instead, they use a combination of imaginative design, record-breaking formats and iconic soundtracks to deliver next-level impact and flair. As this is Virgin we’re talking about, guest cameos – along with a fair dose of humour – are also part of the recipe for standout storytelling.
“Virgin adverts have long occupied an iconic space of their own,” says Claire Hilton, Global Brand Director at Virgin Management and CMO at Virgin Red, the new rewards club from Virgin. “We aimed to continue the tradition with our own TV ad, Whatever Blows Your Bubble, which debuted this summer. Just like the best in its genre, the commercial captured that sense of magic that comes from combining a flavour of brands across the Virgin family, all in one place.”
Below are just a few memorable adverts from the past decade of Virgin films. Dive in to be inspired by everything from Geri Halliwell rocking out in a cruise suite to giant bubblegum balloons and rainbow ice-cream served from air vents in the sky. It sure is a wonderful world...
Virgin Hotels Las Vegas - Us. Unstoppable. (2021)
Nothing shouts Las Vegas like this ebullient Us. Unstoppable. campaign. Filmed over three days in the Jean Dry Lake Bed just outside Las Vegas, this first in a two-part ad follows a eclectic group of party guests as they journey through the desert and discover the modern oasis that is Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. From beginning to end, the ad brims with the high-octane energy radiated by the world’s most celebrated party destination. Watch the second part of the playful campaign right here.
Virgin Voyages - Mega RockStar Test Drive (2019)
None other than Geri Halliwell, aka Ginger Spice, stars in this rock-on advert for Virgin Voyages’ RockStar Quarters. Richard Branson instructs his pal to give the suite “that rock star test drive” and Geri obliges: strumming an electric guitar, graffitiing the bathroom mirror with “Girl Power” in lipstick (natch) and generally rocking out with the best of ‘em. There’s some truly spicy one-liners in the mix, which – along with Geri’s inspired cameo – have seen the commercial rack up more than 18 million views on YouTube.
Virgin Media - Faster Brings Us Closer (2021)
Virgin Media’s Faster Brings us Closer TV film debuted earlier this year, and reimagines a classic love story fit for a gaming age. Sparks fly as students Jade and Jake build an unlikely connection in the virtual world of gaming, fuelled by the power of Virgin Media’s ultrafast network. The advert cleverly shows how romance – and all the warm, fuzzy vibes that go with it – can surface in the most unexpected places. And even in the most uncertain of times, connection conquers all.
Virgin Holidays - The World Is Your Playground (2018)
The thrill of wanderlust comes alive in this deliciously catchy ad from Virgin Holidays. Played out to the irresistible soundtrack of Andy Williams’ When You’re Smiling, it captures a series of fantasy travel moments – from children swinging through the clouds above Disney World to a miniature Las Vegas universe contained in a pinball machine. With paper boats and carousel horses in the mix, Virgin Holidays depicts in glorious detail how the world truly is your playground.
Virgin Red - Find What Blows Your Bubble (2021)
Virgin Red’s first ever TV ad hit our screens earlier this year, combining epic cinematography with an equally iconic soundtrack. The commercial sees a woman blow a bubble gum that rapidly becomes so huge, she can float up and away on it – flying effortlessly above a city landscape. The joyful sequence is a clever analogy to how Virgin Red transforms everyday buys into extraordinary rewards for its members. It’s accompanied by a re-imagination of the 1980s hit 99 Red Balloons, in an inspirational orchestral track performed by singer-songwriter Grace Carter.
Virgin Money - 40 Years Of Better (2011)
Debuting a decade ago to mark the launch of Virgin Money, this powerful ad takes a look at the evolution of the Virgin brand – from Virgin Records to Virgin Balloon Flights,Virgin Atlantic, and beyond. It opens to the instantly recognisable sound of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells: the first album Virgin Records released, and one of the biggest-selling records of the 1970s. The film is directed by Duncan Jones, the man behind 2009 sci-fi flick Moon. It ends with the message: “40 years of better, now in a bank.”
Virgin Atlantic - Depart The Everyday (2018)
This dream-like ad welcomes viewers into life above clouds, in the magical world of a Virgin Atlantic flight. This delightful universe sees passengers dance on the ceiling and rainbow ice-cream emerge from the air vents, in a whirlwind of surreal and colourful moments. The commercial stars real-life Virgin Atlantic flight attendants, who auditioned, X Factor style, for the spot. As the extra icing on the cake, funk legend Chaka Khan’s first song in a decade appears on the soundtrack: the 2018 hit Like Sugar.
Virgin Active - Find Your Mix (2021)
Club, home, outdoors: Virgin Active’s upbeat new ad shows how fitness can be part of your life, wherever you happen to be. “Find Your Mix” gives a glimpse of the personal stories that inspire us to get moving – with training as a magic fix that we all access in different ways. With bold pops of colour and an infectious soundtrack, the advert highlights Virgin Active as a vibrant, multifaceted hub for modern-day wellbeing.
Virgin Media - Usain Bolt, #BeTheFastest (2016)
Record-breaking Olympic champion Usain Bolt, the greatest sprinter in history, cut a dash in Virgin Media’s evocative #BeTheFastest campaign. The ad explores the real man behind the gold medal triumphs, looking at Bolt’s gruelling training schedule, his “superhero” fan status and the Jamaican dancehall culture that is a central part of his identity.
The film also dramatises Bolt’s historic 9.58 second run at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, merging the distance and his speed with Jamaican locations of his childhood. The commercial, which pivots around the concept of speed – for both Bolt and Virgin Media broadband – ends with the tagline, “Are you ready to be moved?”
Usain Bolt starred in a series of ads for Virgin Media, often adding a dash of comedy to the mix – per above, in a 2018 commercial where he mimics Richard Branson.
Virgin Games - #LiveALittle (2017)
Virgin Games’ hilarious #LiveALittle ad series is fronted by an unusual figure: Vladimir the vampire. A somewhat hapless but ever-hopeful character, Vladimir is trying to navigate modern life as a 500 year+ member of the living dead: a challenge that brings him in direct path with vampire-repellent garlic, shifts before sundown and more. This genius ad, one in a string of films, sees Vladimir navigate his first stint at legitimate employment, as well as dally in the 21st century dating scene. Happily for Vladimir, he can also #LiveALittle with Virgin Games.
Virgin Galactic - Future Of Our Fleet (2021)
“We were born to look up” – so reads the opening line to Virgin Galactic’s stirring film introducing VSS Imagine earlier this year. The first SpaceShip III in the company’s fleet is presented in suitably spectacular style, playing on themes of imagination, ambition and dreaming big. The message? Wherever you want to go in life, “imagine” will get you there. This concept builds throughout the film, leading to the moment where VSS Imagine is revealed, in all its iconic and cinematic glory.