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Virgin Soars To New Heights

July 2023

This is a self-funded case study using our ad testing solution.

From Why walk when you can ride? to ‘Why stumble when you can soar?’, Virgin has once again taken an animal-centric approach to promote its high-speed WiFi services. The brand’s latest iteration features a hang-gliding goat as the star attraction.

As marketers, the advice often given is to ‘think outside the box’; to unearth unconventional ideas in order to find new and innovative ways to connect with audiences. However, while creativity can be an immensely powerful tool, it mustn’t come at the expense of conveying motivating impressions about the brand.

Effective marketing strikes a balance between creativity and clarity. With that in mind, how did Virgin Media’s gliding goats fare? While the imaginative story and up-tempo music undoubtedly helped it stand out, was it able to convey intended messaging, and did it ultimately motivate a behavioral response? Did it have GOAT (Greatest of All Time) potential or was it lost in the herd?

While certainly original, the playful narrative struggled to elicit the desired emotional response. And, unfortunately for Virgin Media, the plot inadvertently exacerbated existing preconceptions around the telco’s speed, reliability, and customer service. A timely reminder that creativity can only do so much to compensate for other perceived deficiencies.

Alignment to the Virgin Media brand was also questioned — despite being a sequel to the 2022 spot featuring a highland cow. Unsurprisingly, significant time, energy, and (of course!) money is required to craft distinctive and ownable branding properties, and at this stage these haven’t yet bedded-in with consumers.

This highlights an important aspect in the pursuit of marketing effectiveness: striking a balance between creative flair, clarity, and brand consistency. And they needn’t butt heads. While the hang gliding goat proved to be a captivating creative device, the ad’s key challenge related to it lacking a motivating reason to believe.

That’s not to say brands should take a purely rational approach to their advertising. Rather, advertising must ensure claims are substantiated and consumers are given a clear reason for why they should reappraise the brand. Ultimately, advertising is only effective when it taps into people’s needs and wants — and ultimately addresses their ‘jobs to be done’. For advertising to deliver impact it must couple creative endeavors with positioning the brand as a viable way to meet the goals of consumers.

Virgin Media - Why fly when you can soar - Ad Testing Cubery

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