When rebrands go wrong

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Virgin Trains bids to change train travel perceptions

Virgin Trains is set to launch a £7m marketing campaign designed to change consumers’ overestimations about train journey times and for them to consider train travel over other forms of transport.


The “Fly Virgin Trains” campaign, which nods to the Virgin Atlantic airline business, features retro-style creative with the actual time it takes to get to destinations such as Liverpool and Glasgow from London.

Ads will run across outdoor, press, online, social media and radio, which will be voiced by Doctor Who actor Matt Smith. Virgin Trains is also specifically looking to target car drivers, by placing media on truck sides through heavy traffic hotspots and screens at service stations to convince them to take their future journeys by train instead.

The second phase of the campaign will include an online game and additional eCRM elements to encourage consumers to book in advance to gain better value tickets.

Virgin Trains

Danny Gonzalez, Virgin Trains head of marketing, says: “The new campaign perfectly encapsulates our vision of inspiring travellers to choose Virgin Trains to get to their destination in the fastest and most time enriching way - all provided with a great level of customer experience. The campaign raises awareness of our underestimated high speed journey times and blows away the false preconceptions around cost people have about travelling with Virgin Trains.”

The campaign was created by Elvis, which also produced its last major campaign dubbed “Don’t Go Zombie”, which launched in 2010.

Virgin Management, the company responsible for the entire Virgin brand portfolio, recently handed former Virgin Media CMO Nigel Gilbert the group’s first key projects director role to work on initiatives to drive more ties between brands such as Virgin Trains, Atlantic and Holidays through marketing.

Readers' comments (6)

  • This is so patronising. People do book in advance if they can. And if people have misconceptions about journey times and cost, it's because they have experienced delays and expensive tickets, not because they are ignorant.

    And having nice 'whooshy' lines on the ad doesn't make you feel better when your train is cramped/delayed/dirty/all of the above. I don't have a car and so travel long distances by train or bus. I choose the company based upon where I'm going and who is cheapest. The £7m would have been better spent improving the service.

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  • What happened to the 4h 08m flyers then - EUS-PRE-GLC?

    Fails to address fact that those travelling on M6 will have different journey to those trips offered by rail. Virgin's service pattern fails with the CRE-WBQ 'gap' that leaves you watching as train that gets in 1 hour earlier flys past 10 minutes in front of the one you can catch

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  • @Anonymous | Fri, 8 Mar 2013 6:00 am

    Shhh, keep it down - your boring is too loud.

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  • Wooshy

    A new word is born !

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  • If you already know the journey time and that you can get a cheap fare by booking in advance and you DON'T use Virgin Trains then research shows you are in the small minority.

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  • @Theresa I hope for the health of the industry you don't work in marketing; regarding it as a cost that could be better invested in the service! Be thankful it is a revenue generator that will bring in more money that can be used, amongst other things, to further improve the service.

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