Virgin Holidays' Saturday Night Takeaway

The team at Virgin Holidays know all about Saturday nights – well, about Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, to be precise. We asked them about their recent collaboration with the hit ITV show, and much more

So what does your role actually entail?

Kelly: I oversee all our PR and communications for Virgin Holidays – that includes a fair bit of travel, of course.

Nicole I manage the marketing for our Florida partners and establish new relationships with both Virgin Group companies and other brand partners.

Stuart I manage all social media activity for Virgin Holidays, from content creation and community management through to campaign activations and paid social.

What was your role on the saturday night takeaway collaboration?

Kelly: I negotiated the partnership with ITV and Disney – and then set about convincing the business we should commission our very first Virgin Atlantic charter! I helped oversee the activation and ensured that our plans through PR, social media, retail, content and marketing were on track to deliver our objectives.

Nicole: I managed the overall marketing plans and communications strategy for Virgin Holidays, and worked with various internal teams, ITV, Disney Destinations and associated talent to bring the magic of Disney to Saturday Night Takeaway.

Stuart: I owned the delivery of seven weeks of social media activity in partnership with ITV and Disney. This included launching the ‘Place on the Plane’ competition on Facebook, delivering a content series with Scarlett Moffatt and running real-time social activity from Walt Disney World Resort itself.

Any funny anecdotes from that experience?

Kelly: Ant and Dec came to our new v-room at Gatwick Airport to film their promotional segments for the show. Ant reached out to shake my hand and I gripped it quite tightly – not realising he’d broken three fingers, and causing him to yelp in pain. Not the best first impression, really!

Nicole: The look on Little Richard Branson’s face was priceless when filming on the Splash Mountain ride. I thought he was going to have a heart attack.

Best part of your job?

Kelly: Since i’ve worked at Virgin Holidays, we’ve built a 35-foot high treehouse on the South Bank, broadcast a television advert live from 18 locations across the world, announced we planned to become one of the most LGBT-friendly travel companies, staged the finale of Saturday Night Takeaway live from Walt Disney World and more. No other brand gets to pack that much excitement and risk into 12 months.

Nicole: It has to be the sheer variety – working with our amazing destinations, diverse partners and wonderful people on projects that only the Virgin brand could deliver.

Stuart: Being able to work on a variety of super-fun projects like this. Filming Little Richard Branson in Walt Disney World, live tweeting from a cruise ship, running a livestream from a 20-foot treehouse on London’s South Bank, launching a competition to win a holiday to Necker Island…

What has been your proudest moment?

Kelly: Four years ago, when I was working for Virgin Atlantic’s PR agency, we staged a live gig 35,000 feet in the air with chart-toppers Rudimental and Gorgon City. It was live-streamed from the plane’s wifi to commemorate our first Dreamliner, and went on to win multiple awards. The sheer audacity and risk of something so technically challenging was exhilarating.

Nicole: It has to be the Saturday Night Takeaway project – it was a great thing to be a part of, and delivered a lot of record-breaking results for us. After the live show had finished and we were able to stand up on the stage in front of Cinderella’s castle, it was a great feeling to be able to say that I played a part in it.

Stuart: Last year, we launched our new comms platform, #seizetheholiday, with the world’s first live commercial advertisement broadcast from 18 different locations around the world. Successfully running that as a Facebook livestream with ITV Studios, alongside our first Twitter-promoted trend, will stay with me for a long time to come. Especially as the launch won Marketing Week’s Campaign of the Year award!

Any funny or memorable moments?

Kelly: Stuart Chapman earned himself a nickname throughout this campaign: ‘Economy Stu’. It would be truly memorable if that’s included in this article. I’m sure he’ll thank me later.

Nicole: When I ran a competition for a primary school to win the chance for the former NASA astronaut Don Thomas to visit. They had to submit 200 words on why they should win, and some of the entries from the 7-10 year-olds were both moving and hilarious; especially when wanting to ask him questions like, “A UFO has landed in our playground, can you fix it?”

The best thing about working for Virgin?

Kelly: The enthusiasm and energy of everyone who works here is contagious – my colleagues really care about the work they do and the impact it has on our customers and our teams. It’s nice to work with such warm and friendly people.

Nicole: The opportunity to travel the world is incredible – it’s great to be able to see first-hand the holidays that our customers experience every day.

Stuart: Some people will say the perks. Others the deep-fried halloumi in the canteen on a Friday. But for me it’s the combination of the people and the Virgin culture that makes me proud to wear this red lanyard around my neck. (Gosh. That was a little cheesy.)

Who would you like to share a saturday night takeaway with?

Kelly: Hillary Clinton. Just imagine the banter we’d have about ‘The Donald’ after a few bottles of wine.

Nicole: Tom Hanks – he really does seem like the coolest guy on the planet.

Stuart: Casey Neistat. Or Elon Musk.


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