Virgin Trains has long been perceived as a ‘consumer champion’ but its brand sentiment was low, particularly following the loss of the East Coast franchise. Against the background of summer 2018 - the hottest summer on record, Virgin Trains’ refocused its product experience and repositioned its pricing structure, underpinned by the idea of ‘spontaneity’.
Manning Gottlieb OMD identified an increase in ‘last minute’ spontaneity-based searches, influenced by the hot weather. Yet Virgin Trains’ pricing did not embrace this - tickets are cheaper when booked in advance and while spontaneous weekend travel tends to start on a Friday, there are peak prices in the mornings and after work. A shift was needed to reward spontaneity - removing the concept of ‘peak pricing’ entirely on a Friday, giving people more freedom to make impromptu travel plans.
The campaign brought spontaneity to life. A bespoke data set was combined with travel articles around ‘what’s on this weekend’ in various cities, pinpointing the day of the week where the target audience were feeling most spontaneous. Through a partnership with Spotify, Virgin Trains appeared against playlists that focused on summer or the weekend, while the brand also worked with TimeOut on “Your Squad’s Super Spontaneous Trip Generator” initiative, generating random trips for friends.
Net advocacy scores increased by 32% post campaign, while 94% of customers said they’re likely to travel with Virgin Trains again.