Friday, January 09, 2009

When Two Tribes go to War

It's been a while since we heard from the epic battle between BA and Virgin Atlantic. Years of bickering and fighting have made it one of the UK's most interesting brand contests.

Well wait no more, Virgin are back, with a brilliantly shot ad featuring lots of comic retro references; and a perfect choice of music in Frankie Goes to Hollywood's Relax. But the question everyone in adland is asking is: Is it sexist?

It certainly flies the 'women as objects' flag more than most; but no more so than Lynx has been doing for years. There is no subtlety in it, but then looking (in brand/product terms) at what Virgin were compared to BA at the time it seems quite accurate.

Does the inclusion of a male pilot help by objectifying the man as well? Does the lack of male cabin crew make it worse?

What about the fact it was (apparently) thought up by a woman creative?


Rob @ Cynic said...

It's not sexist - it's sexy ... but more than that, it's upbeat which is about as counter to the general travel industry attitude as you can get.

Still wish they didn't re-cut the 2 Tribes track - just when you think it's about to kick off, they pout cold water on you and this is annoying because ultimately it's the essence of the campaign and lets face it, like Blur vs Oasis ... VA was even more successful when the public felt they were in a boxing ring with BA than when they could sit pretty knowing they'd won the first 10 rounds.

Rob Mortimer said...

It is cheerful, but in the retrospective way thats always popular when things are down.

It's not two tribes, but I know what you mean; you keep waiting for it to kick in.

As someone (I cant recall who annoyingly) said to me the other day, Virgin's business practices would never have been so successful if they didn't have a big slow enemy to outwit; fighting the publics corner against the behemoths.

Rob @ Cynic said...

That's abit unfair to Virgin, but it is true that their lumbering competition made their job easier interms of generating a social movement.

Rob Mortimer said...

I don't think its unfair. I'm certainly not saying they wouldn't have been successful; but they would have struggled to capture the publics imagination and the growth would have been slower.

Going against the behemoths gave them a big advantage over other startups. (Though clearly that didn't work for everybody E.g.: Mr Laker)