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Weber Shandwick - Travel / Tourism / Destination Campaign

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2016, Click to Enter The 2017 Stevie Awards for Sales and Customer service

Company: Weber Shandwick, London, United Kingdom
Company Description: Weber Shandwick is a leading global public relations firm with offices in more than 80 countries. The firm’s diverse team of thinkers, strategists, analysts, producers, designers, developers and campaign activators has won the most prestigious awards in the world for innovative, creative approaches and impactful work.
Nomination Category: Marketing Campaign Categories - Industry
Nomination Sub Category: Marketing Campaign of the Year - Travel / Tourism / Destination

Nomination Title: Virgin Atlantic, Kiss & Fly

Tell the story of this nominated marketing campaign for the judges (up to 650 words). Describe the genesis, planning, execution, and results to date of your campaign.


Virgin Atlantic is one of the UK’s best-loved airlines. When it moved its base from the South Terminal at London Gatwick Airport to the North Terminal, it negotiated 30-minute parking for drivers who were dropping off Virgin Atlantic customers at Departures.

It’s a nice-to-have extra, but it’s not exactly front page news.

We always tell Virgin that there’s no barrier that can’t be overcome with creative thinking, so they challenged us to get national and lifestyle coverage for a car park space, with no budget beyond our retainer.

Objective: tell as broad an audience as possible about the new drop-off parking service at Gatwick, while underlining Virgin Atlantic’s reputation as the most fun, customer-centric airline.


Our human insight: Virgin Atlantic’s parking space might just be a square of tarmac, but there’s a whole load of emotion attached to it.
If you would make use of 30 minutes free parking at an airport, you’re not a taxi driver: you’ll be dropping off a friend or, more likely, a loved one. Airport drop-offs are often about saying your goodbyes, about waving off people you love, about a final kiss before they fly.

So we dubbed it the “Kiss & Fly” service.

We wanted to recreate a famous kiss to celebrate, and settled on the iconic 1945 photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt: a U.S. Navy sailor on VJ Day kissing a woman in a white dress in New York’s Times Square.

Then we discovered a real-life married cabin crew couple working for Virgin Atlantic, Jessie and Gary, who are constantly “kissing and flying” as they work on different routes around the world. This would have the added benefit of deploying the brand’s biggest asset: its world-famous red-uniformed crew.

So we took the photo-story further: we’d use Facebook Live to broadcast our couple kissing goodbye, and let the public decide when their “public display of affection” had gone on long enough.

This would reach a huge, engaged community of Virgin Atlantic fans who would hopefully share “the experiment” to their own newsfeeds, without paying a penny.


On 3 February 2017, we sent a photographer to Gatwick to capture cabin crew couple Jessie and Gary recreating the Times Square kiss. We broadcast the kiss on Facebook Live (having teased it with Virgin Atlantic followers that morning) using nothing but a phone and a stopwatch.

We asked viewers to decide “how long is too long?” for a PDA, by clicking on the “wow” emoji at the point where they felt the kiss had reached the limit of public acceptability. The peak use of the emoji came at 12.1 seconds.

We packaged our visual assets and the video feed for media, suggesting that the 12.1 second stat showed Brits had become less prudish and were perfectly comfortable with a 12-second snog in public.


The story was fun, fresh and on-brand. By the end of the day we’d clocked up 50,000+ views and 718 emoji reactions with 100% positive sentiment.

Every single piece of coverage mentioned that Virgin Atlantic had conducted the experiment to celebrate its new Kiss & Fly free parking service. The resulting coverage had a reach of more than 100 million, in lifestyle titles ranging from the Sun, UniLad and MTV to Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire.

Louise Holding, PR Specialist, Virgin Atlantic, said: “We knew when we briefed the team to come up with a way to PR a parking bay that it was a tough ask – but their mantra is that there is a creative solution to every brief, so we put them to the test! We were blown away by the results – the amount of positive publicity for the brand was incredible, including getting into UniLad, which we’ve never managed before. A live experiment on Facebook was an ingenious solution to the problem of no hard news.”

In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) of the chief features and results of the nominated campaign (up to 150 words).

-How did we get coverage reach of 100million+ for Virgin Atlantic’s new 30-minute free drop-off parking space at Gatwick Airport?
-Our insight: it might just be a square of tarmac, but there’s a whole load of emotion attached to it, since airport drop-offs are often about saying goodbye to a loved one. So we dubbed it the “Kiss & Fly” service.
-When we discovered a married cabin crew couple working for Virgin Atlantic, we decided to recreate the world’s most famous kiss: the iconic 1945 photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt, of a U.S. Navy sailor kissing a woman in Times Square.
-We broadcast the couple kissing in realtime using Facebook Live, and asked people to decide “how long is too long?” for a public display of affection, by selecting the “wow” emoji.
-50,000+ organic Facebook views, positive sentiment, high consumer engagement, and reams of lifestyle and national coverage.