Virgin Trains Final Whistle: Virgin on the ridiculous?

virginSo with just over four weeks to go before the Big Day (and 34 sleeps to be precise), trying to find a campaign that doesn’t feature carrots, turkey, dragons, mince pies or Christmas pud is no mean feat.

Ironically, given its track record, Virgin Trains is bang on time with this bittersweet spoof music video “Final Whistle” which marks the end of the line for its InterCity West Coast franchise. (Don’t all cry at once.)

Starring Sir Richard Branson himself – well, he just couldn’t resist could he? – the video chugs along to (I’ve Had) The Time of my Life and also features stars from 1997 – when the franchise began – alongside familiar 2019 faces.

Created by Cubaka, the spot opens with bumbling Mr Blobby embarking on an original Virgin Train from back in the day. Branson uses the intercom to tell passengers: “All aboard your non-stop Virgin train, from 1997 to 2019. This will be our final journey.”

Looking into the camera, Dickie adds: “Thank you for using Virgin Trains,” before plonking a boombox on his shoulder, and the whole train transforms into a music video.

Starting from the Nineties, we are taken on a “journey” through the past 22 years, from “Madchester” and shell suits to tickets on mobiles and ‘Beam’ streaming on iPads.

Coming along for the, er, ride of their lives, are actor Shaun “Barry from Eastenders” Williamson, Chris “unbelievable Jeff” Kamara and drag star Anna Phylactic (not “dragon icon” as one magazine put it).

Funnily enough, there’s no mention of the poor punctuality between 2001 and 2006, and 2012 to 2013 but, hey, never let the facts get in the way of a good send-off.

Virgin Trains managing director Phil Whittingham said: “Of course we’re extremely sad that Virgin Trains is disappearing as a train operator, but we wanted to leave as we entered: by having fun.

“We’re immensely proud of our track record over more than two decades and hope our customers enjoyed traveling with us as much as we enjoyed serving them.”

So, what is the consensus around the Decision Marketing office? Is it just another Branson vanity show, designed to stroke his enormous ego? Is there actually any point, considering Virgin Trains has been shunted off the tracks? Do we care?

Well, it is mildly amusing, but you have to ask, why oh why? Travellers to Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, North Wales and Edinburgh might well be having their own party, but whether they will be lamenting the demise of Virgin Trains is another matter. Still Branson will no doubt love seeing his face all over the place…for a change.

Decision Marketing Adometer 5 out of 10

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