Can Virgin kick start branded entertainment with new Departure Date in-flight movie?

Branded entertainment – everybody’s doing it (well AT&T and Unilever are anyway) but what does it actually do?

There’s an obvious problem at the heart of it: it can’t be an (obvious) ad or you’ll turn people off; but, if it isn’t an ad, what’s the point? A nice warm Harvey Nicholls-type feeling (corporate version)?

Now Virgin is entering the lists (with its customary large dollop of hype), shooting a movie called Departure Date at 35,000 feet to plug the experience of flying its three airlines – Atlantic, America and Australia. On one level this obviously makes sense as the set is a Virgin plane so all these interesting happenings (if indeed they prove to be) undoubtedly plug the brand.

All we have so far is this rather gloopy behind-the-scenes opus but it shows what they’re trying to do.

Creative by Eleven Inc in San Francisco with production by Virgin Produced. The writer and director is Kat Coiro. As far as I can see there’s no appearance by Richard Branson himself (letting the bearded one run amok on a plane would be just too much, that sort of thing at 35,000 feet is frowned upon these days, alas).

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.