Looks like Richard Branson‘s up to his old tricks again.
This week saw the Virgin Media boss (already renowned for his proactive PR stunts) project an enormous image of himself onto Sydney Harbour Bridge in an effort to rile the Aussies and generate some Ashes-focused press coverage. Successfully it seems with all our national newspapers running with it and national outrage down-under.
A little more credible was the substance behind the ‘fifty50′ that subtley adorned the bottom left corner of the image. This refers to Virgin’s pledge to donate £1,000 to charity for every half-century that our England batsmen rack up throughout the 2009 Ashes campaign. Synics may point to the fact that it is all a promotional tool for Virgin’s 50Mb Broadband national roll-out, but with £3,000 already in the pot (KP, Colly and Prior), it certainly has more kudos than most PR stunts.
Richard Branson / Ross Brawn
The news of the above union only reached me this afternoon when having coffee with a friend (rather embarrassingly given that he had just flown in from New York and already had more of a finger on the pulse of the UK news agenda than me…).
But what excited me more than the fact that the naked Brawn GP car will finally be clothed in logos and livery this season after all, was the fact that the story was broken exclusively on TimesOnline before anywhere else.
Another triumph for UK online media topping the global news agenda. Awesome.
This afternoon, everyone in the Engine building, the London marketing industry and beyond was passing back and forth a letter of complaint to Richard Branson, complaining about the shocking state of the food served on a transatlantic Virgin flight.
It is possibly the most hilarious piece of epistolary writing I have ever read.
It was sent to me by a friend from a market research agency, who had been sent it by her boss, who’s friend had sent it to her because he knew the author… and the author turned out to sit two floors directly above me in WCRS.
Small world huh? Even better, we found out that Richard Bransontook the time to call up Mr. Beale himself to firstly apologise and secondly thank him for keeping him and his family in stitches all weekend with the hilarity of his letter. Safe to say it was the most bizarre 10 minutes of Mr. Beale’s life, but good work Mr Branson I say.
In any case, please do read it – it is a prime example of how much damage can be done to a brand when a man is bereft of sleep, stimulation and left very, very hungry.
But then also how quickly it can be at least partly rectified by a 10 minute intervention from on high.