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Behind the Idea: Virgin Media’s hole-shaped Christmas countdown campaign

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Virgin Media has partnered with Virgin’s family brands to celebrate and reward its customers this Christmas with unlimited generosity as part of their very first official Christmas campaign. The integrated digital campaign created by RAPP UK will see Virgin Media offer its customers a daily grand prize for one lucky winner and numerous winners for smaller prizes for the 25-day run-up to Christmas. 

The campaign stars Ru Paul’s Drag Race star Cheryl Hole, who brings Virgin Media’s cheeky and cheerful Christmas spirit to life as the Christmas ‘Giftmother’ and tree topper, conjuring up and gifting different prizes every day of December.

We caught up with Adam Rolfe, Creative Director at RAPP UK, to discuss the campaign in greater detail and explore the creativity behind the idea.

What was the brief?

As part of its unlimited offering, Virgin Media wanted to partner with Virgin’s family brands to celebrate and reward its customers this Christmas with unlimited generosity.  The brief was for an integrated digital campaign exclusively for Virgin Media customers that delivered daily prizes every day for 24 days in the run-up to Christmas. On the big day, one lucky winner would win all 24 prizes in a Christmas day ‘Mega Pressie Pot’!

Tell us about the concept and why it was the right choice?

Christmas is a time for families to come together. And this one was going to be extra special – It’s the first time the Virgin family of brands have joined together. The unlimiting platform by Adam & Eve was the perfect start point but we needed to put a Christmas spin on it. We were looking for a concept that would celebrate Virgin Media’s generosity during the season of giving. A concept that was broad enough to include all members of the Virgin family but targeted specifically at Virgin Media customers. Virgin Media’s brand ‘swirl’ became the virtual tinsel on our tree which was our analogy for supercharging customers’ Christmasses. Our protagonist takes it to the next level and delivers our generosity message. Enter our Giftmother. We transformed her from an ordinary fairy on top of a Christmas tree into a sassy Giftmother complete with a super glam look and tone of voice to match. She delivers every single one of our unlimiting Christmas messages in a way only Virgin Media could.

What was the production process like?

Planning a family get together on this scale is always tricky. Rock Hound Production and Big Buoy stepped up to bring the idea to life within the super tight timings. The main challenge was to find someone who would deliver our vision of our Giftmother. We wanted a drag queen but not any drag queen and in an inspired bit of casting, Rock Hound secured Cheryl Hole fresh from BBC 3’s Drag Race UK. It was a two-day shoot with the first concentrating on the launch film and the second capturing all the extra video and photography assets. There was a mountain of green screen post-production and CGI to develop to bring the idea to life. Plus a team of editors, sound technicians and designers working almost around the clock to create the suite of VOD, emails, social media, digital media, retail and website comms needed for the 25 days.

Why is the main message of the campaign important?

Our key message had to demonstrate the scale of the generosity that Virgin Media was offering its customers to make them feel valued and rewarded. The prizes really were epic and included tickets for two on their new cruise line Virgin Voyages, a year’s supply of Virgin Wines, your mortgage paid for a month, courtesy of Virgin Money, and even stays in Richard Branson’s very own exclusive lodges, supplied by Virgin Limited Edition.

Why will the final assets resonate with customers?

The work is already resonating with customers with over 40,000 competition-sign ups in the first few hours. It’s the kind of brand communication that reminds customers why they joined, makes them feel valued and that Virgin Media is a fun and generous brand.

What is the most interesting thing or unique fact about the campaign that will help it cut through?

Cheryl Hole, our Giftmother. Throughout a two day shoot, she embraced the character of our supercharged Christmas fairy and made it her own. Her performance delivered our messaging in a hugely engaging, fun and very Virgin Media way. 

How long did it take to make

Timings were incredibly tight and it was a mammoth task by the team and client. We had initial ideas but the key creative was only finalised at the end of October. Production started the week after and the campaign went live on the 28th of November. 

What do you hope it achieves for the brand now it’s out?

Christmas is all about giving and Virgin Media wanted to give back to customers and show them the love they deserve. Unlimited love. By working with the whole Virgin family, Virgin Media has managed to give customers a truly unique experience unlike any other. We hope that this is the start of more campaigns like this.  

How satisfying is it to have released the campaign, having worked so hard on it?

It’s an amazing feeling and everyone is hugely proud of what they’ve achieved. As Cheryl says, it was a ‘Big…Massive…Ginormous’ effort from everyone in RAPP, Rock Hound Productions and Big Buoy but also from the client. There were extremely long hours but everyone was 100% behind what we were trying to achieve and pulled out all the stops to deliver it. And we think the end result has been worth it.

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Adam Rolfe is Creative Director at RAPP UK

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