Virgin Australia Facing a Jumbo-Sized Challenge

2014 | Carat Sydney

Operating in a highly competitive category fueled by heritage & culture, we needed to help Virgin Australia steal passengers from the well-established, beloved, and iconic national carriers.



Virgin operates in a highly competitive category with an incredibly strong market leader in Qantas, who lead the market on all brand metrics and spend four times that of Virgin.

When they re-branded as Virgin Australian four years ago, priority number one was gaining some much needed ground (read: stealing passengers) on the hugely popular Los Angeles and New Zealand routes. 

It wasn't just a matter of letting everyone know that VA serviced these routes though. We needed to give travelers a compelling reason to choose VA. 

It’s the subtle offerings of exceptional service delivery that VA prides itself on. They challenged us to find a way, through media, to convey the 'Virgin difference'. 

So, in the face of strong competition, our immediate challenge was to not only increase awareness & consideration of flying VA on these key routes, but also entrench the Virgin difference in the minds of travelers, so as to later convert them to our customers.


We needed to find a way to enable prospective travelers to experience the Virgin difference, at scale, before stepping-foot on a plane.

Knowing the Virgin brand is universally viewed as a challenger, an adventurer, a means to exciting experiences and great achievements, we knew we couldn’t just stick to a standard media campaign.

We needed an equally adventurous, exciting and experience-led partner that would enable us to work together to explode the value for both parties by leveraging our shared values and desired consumer outcomes.

We needed the perfect 'wing man', and we found it in The Amazing Race Australia. 

It gave us the perfect platform to appeal to the adventurer in all of us, with a natural product and service alignment and the right scale to ensure we could talk to the wide range of adventurers out there. 

Together we embarked on a journey to bring the Virgin Australia experience to the living room, using a true brand, product and media partnership as the vehicle to put consumers in VA seats from the comfort of their homes.


This campaign elevated a sponsorship to a true partnership where both Virgin and The Amazing Race would together to deliver an exceptional experience for the consumer AND value back to each business at the same time. To make this happen, both businesses made significant changes to their fixed service delivery.

We worked with The Amazing Race to schedule their episodes and programming to incorporate VA routes. In turn, the airline agreed to add additional flights to their scheduling to accommodate the show’s production crew's needs.

By leveraging the power of Virgin’s owned assets, we also enabled The Amazing Race to receive additional promotional scale. Exclusive show content for Virgin’s in-flight entertainment assets was secured in order to enrich this promotional experience.

The Amazing Race Australia was the perfect platform to literally demonstrate our points of difference. Not only did Virgin Australia feature throughout the program, the partnership also included integration across social media, online and magazines driving brand awareness.

Furthermore, we delivered prominent, consistent, and natural integration into the program:

Virgin Australia flights to NZ and LA were featured in the first and last episodes; Virgin and Velocity Frequent Flier prizes were provided in every episode; footage showcased contestants excitedly checking into and boarding Virgin Australia flights and interacting with friendly staff members on ground and inside the plane.

In the final episode, contestants were shown receiving upgrades to business class and completing a challenge using Virgin Australia’s route map, putting Virgin Australia’s most premium products on display.



In creating a true partnership, we were able to deliver fantastic results for both parties, impacting both business and media outcomes.

We negotiated fantastic media value, delivering an ROI of $2.50 value for every $1 invested. This equated to $1.5 million in additional value for Virgin Australia.

Most importantly, we smashed our key awareness metrics. Over the ten week campaign period, awareness of Virgin Australia's NZ and LA routes increased by 9% and 10% respectively.

Results far exceeded client expectations, with the campaign proving to be a major success story for the Virgin Australia business, especially in the face of extremely strong competition. 

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