Virgin Atlantic expands in-house creative team in marketing effectiveness drive

The travel company is hiring four new in-house creative roles in a bid to be more reactive and develop its digital capabilities.

Virgin Atlantic is expanding its in-house creative department as it looks to spark more creativity ahead of the launch of its new brand identity following the decision to move on from ‘Let it Fly’.

Michael Stephens, head of brand and creative at Virgin Atlantic, was the first new addition to the creative team after joining in January from Ted Baker. Virgin Atlantic is now also looking to hire a creative and design manager, a senior digital designer specialising in motion graphics and animation, a creative content producer to work as an in-house videographer and photographer, plus an intern.

The hope is the hires will spark creativity and help better incorporate digital into the brand’s everyday creative process. The in-house team at Virgin Atlantic has become increasingly important year on year, but Stephens says there was a gap in terms of digital capabilities.

“Digital doesn’t stand alone as a department anymore and needs to be woven into everything,” Stephens tells Marketing Week: “These roles will mean we can be reactive with social content and not rely on an agency. We’re being requested more and more for animation and motion graphics and we know that photography and film are more important than ever.”

Despite the increase in in-house creative talent, Virgin Atlantic does not plan to reduce the role of agencies. Stephens explains: “It doesn’t benefit us to take everything in-house. We want to continue working with creative agencies as they bring in a strategy element and various other medias.”

Alongside the in-house recruitment drive, Virgin Atlantic is to align its creative account with sister brand Virgin Holidays for the first time under creative agency AMV BBDO. Both brands conducted research into their customer and employees’ thoughts on the brands ahead of the move.

The three-year contract means the agency will be in charge of developing complementary marketing strategies for the two brands, something they both believe will drive marketing effectiveness.

Stephens says: “Having one team looking after the accounts will allow for more direct contact but it’s more in terms of when we go out [with our communications we can have] a consistent message and it is easier to understand the brand, as a customer.”

The move doesn’t mean Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays will share the shame marketing platform. “We are still very determined to create individual brand identities for both Holidays and Atlantic,” says Stephens.

Virgin Atlantic will be refreshing its communications platform this autumn having decided to move on from ‘Let it Fly’ and is currently developing a new creative campaign. Virgin Holidays, meanwhile, is looking to extend its ‘Seize the Holiday’ platform.

The in-house team will help in the development of that new brand identity for Virgin Atlantic ahead of a new campaign. Stephens says: “They will be working with the agencies driving home who we are as a business.”

Virgin Atlantic reported its first loss in four years earlier this month with a reported £28.4m loss. The company was hit by a weak exchange rate, poor weather conditions and problems with its engines.

Stephens said the news meant “we need to ensure our brand identity is stronger than ever.”