Virgin America, VH1 In Cancun Promotion


Virgin America is teaming with VH1 to host a mile-high episode of one of the network's shows onboard its inaugural flight to Cancun.

The airline began non-stop service to Cancun from Los Angeles on Jan. 19 and launches the service from San Francisco on Jan. 20. The launch marks the third international destination for the three-year-old carrier and its 14th destination in North America.

Under Virgin America's signature "mood lighting," the first Cancun-bound guests will watch VH1 hosting its show, "Top 20 Video Countdown." Filmed at 35,000 feet, the "Countdown to Cancun" will first air on the network on Jan. 29. Grammy-nominated band Goo Goo Dolls will sit in First Class with host Jim Shearer and talk about their latest album "Something for the Rest of Us."

The promotion targets consumers ages 25-40 who appreciate music, pop culture and entertainment, "which is really our flyer demographic as well," says Erika Fogarty, Virgin America brand marketing manager.



"VH1 and Virgin America both like to showcase up and coming artists, the latest music videos, and TV shows that resonate with this same audience," Fogarty tells Marketing Daily. "The partnership also leveraged both brand's strong presence in social media channels -- and the sweeps promotion will extend the reach through the airline's in-flight entertainment and frequent flyer channels, as well as VH1's longstanding viewer favorite and their considerable Web assets."

The airline is promoting the sweeps via its website, via its personal interactive entertainment platform fleetwide, ad banners on and emails from Virgin America (to its 1.7 million frequent flyer base) and VH1. Both VH1 and Virgin America are messaging the sweepstakes through Facebook and Twitter.

The show will include additional special cameo appearances, including one by Virgin Group Founder Richard Branson. Additionally, as part of its ongoing partnership with VH1, Virgin America will name one of its new aircraft "Air VH1" later this year.

To further celebrate the new route, Virgin America, VH1 and luxury all-inclusive resort Live Aqua have teamed up to offer three consumers the chance to win the ultimate getaway to Cancun. Winners will receive roundtrip flights on Virgin America and a three-day sensory experience for two at Live Aqua. Entry to the sweepstakes can be found at through Feb. 9.

Virgin America's VH1 tie-in is "highly relevant," says Henry H. Harteveldt, Forrester Research Inc. vice president and principal analyst, airline and travel research.

"Our research shows that younger leisure travelers generally find entertainment to be important," Harteveldt tells Marketing Daily. "It also fits with Cancun's 'sun and fun' reputation."

The promotion can help the airline get useful media exposure and reach, he says. "VH1 gains an additional gateway to a relevant and appealing audience," Harteveldt says. Since the airline offers VH1 on its satellite TV, the tie-in also reinforces the airline's in-flight entertainment product.

The airline offers the largest in-flight entertainment library in the North American skies -- with a special focus on music, in keeping with the Virgin brand's roots. The Red touch-screen entertainment system offers every guest hundreds of content options, including VH1's music video library, a 3,000 MP3 music catalog (and the ability for guests to build a custom play list in-flight), 30 films, live TV, videogames, seat-to-seat chat and an on-demand menu.

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