‘The Virgin Holiday Sale’ by Elvis

Well, you know what they say… sex sells. Many brands and agencies have employed sexy campaigns with innuendo featuring scantily clad men and women as an easy way to gain attention. It’s a simple appeal to our basic human nature that works well for certain brands like those in the male grooming, fashion and fragrance sectors. However, it’s a difficult trick to pull off if you’re a mainstream family brand, such as those in the travel and holiday sector.
I’m sure I’m not the only one to admire most of Virgin’s advertising and marketing; it excels in this department. It is one of the few brands that can get away with ‘sexy’ advertising and yet comfortably appeal to a broad family audience. The recent James Bond intro style TV commercial employing sexy girls in outrageously high heels prancing sexily, opening their shirts and even flying past an obvious London Gherkin ‘innuendo’ is proof enough for me. The production values are so high and the visuals so slick that we are seduced by its normality, and find it totally acceptable even for a mainstream audience.
I have been curious as to whether this sort of sexy innuendo can translate into a hard hitting direct response campaign. At a recent award presentation I came across this campaign for Virgin Holidays by Elvis : ‘The Virgin Holiday Sale’ is an integrated campaign featuring a ‘naked burlesque girl’ who covers part of her body behind a red circular feather motif, with the headline ‘We’ve taken off everything we can’. I like it. I get it. And I’m not offended.
Even the TV commercial (by MCBD) where the raunchy girl in true Marylin Monroe style dances to stripper music, suggestively moving the feathers to cover and reveal ‘offers’ is charming and inoffensive as well as bold and eye catching. It’s one of the nicest bits of direct response TV I’ve seen in a long time. If the direct mail were to land on my doorstep, I won’t be embarrassed to open it or even mind if my children get there first. It’s a wonderfully integrated campaign, which works across just about all media, with each execution utilising its media to great effect. Ooh la la Virgin… how do you do it?

Paul Tullo is creative partner at Tullo Marshall Warren

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