Virgin Atlantic Airways is hoping business travelers will say, "Oh, behave!" after seeing a cheeky new commercial, which uses bawdy British humor to spoof cheesy soft-core pornography.
The jest even extends to the choice of media for the parody, which will appear where the intended audience watches actual cheesy soft-core pornography, on the adult-entertainment channels of the closed-circuit television systems in hotel rooms.
The spoof, almost 10 minutes long, promotes Virgin Atlantic's Upper Class Suite service on flights between London and New York. Though there is no nudity or profanity, there is enough wink-wink, nudge-nudge japery to fill a fourth Austin Powers film.
First, there is the title, "Suite & Innocent," then come woodenly-acted characters, with names like Miles High, Big Ben and Summer Turbulence, who deliver dialogue replete with double-entendres about "your first time" onboard and enjoying "several inches more" of legroom.
The airline's American agency, Crispin Porter & Bogusky in Miami, spent almost US$1 million to produce and place the parody, which is part of a wry campaign carrying the theme "Go jet set, go!" that also includes droll seat-pocket safety cards and an in-flight magazine called Jetrosexual.
The commercial will be available from this week through the end of the year on the Adult Desires pay-per-view channel on hotel TV networks operated by the LodgeNet Entertainment Corp. Hotel guests will find it listed among real films like Girl-on-Girl and As Wet as They Come, but unlike them the parody can be watched free.
The spoof is emblematic of efforts by advertisers to make media choices outside traditional realms like broadcast television or direct mail to reach busy contemporary consumers. Crispin Porter has become known for such offbeat projects, from a Web site for Burger King presenting an accommodating fowl in a garter belt (subservientchicken.com) to mock contracts bound into magazines stipulating owners of Mini Cooper convertibles must drive with the tops down "for at least 90 percent" of their rides.
"We were trying to figure out the best way to reach these highly elusive business travelers," said Chris Rossi, vice president for North American sales and marketing at the Norwalk, Connecticut, office of Virgin Atlantic, part of the Virgin Group, "and this is where they're spending time." The airline's research found that 78 percent of the target market stays at hotels equipped with LodgeNet pay-per-view channels, he said.
The provocative nature of the project is unusual, Rossi acknowledged, but "people expect us to be irreverent."
The plot, such as it is, is centered on a buxom blonde, the chief executive of a lingerie company, who enjoys a business trip from New York to London in a Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Suite. In one scene, a venture capitalist she meets on board offers to invest in her company, and as he writes a check for US$100 million, she recites aloud each zero by moaning, "Oh, oh, oh, oh."
When he is finished, she whips out a digital camera and snaps the check. "Voila," he exclaims, "the money shot."
In another scene, a woman getting an in-flight massage is interrupted by a hunk carrying a wrench, who proclaims, "I've come to fix your pipes." A Virgin Atlantic employee tells him: "I'm afraid you've wandered into the wrong movie. You're one channel over."