Virgin Atlantic is out with a new advertising campaign called “See The World Differently” which includes a 60-second TV ad embracing the individuality of its employees and customers. I like elements of the ad, but still question placing such a high priority on individualism.
Virgin Atlantic “See The World Differently” Ad
The new ad is extremely well-done in terms of production quality and the message comes through quite clearly: Virgin Atlantic is all about embracing individualism in employees:
Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss explained the heart of the campaign:
“At the core of our business is the understanding that every one of our people can be themselves at work and that they belong. They truly are the thing that sets us apart and the reason customers choose to fly with us. We know that the touchpoints that matter most and the experiences that differentiate Virgin Atlantic, are driven by our people and that’s why it was so important they’re at the heart of this campaign.”
Now “be themselves” is not defined and certainly has boundaries which are also not addressed, but in the context of this ad, we see it manifested in terms of dress and appearance, with implications toward sexuality and gender.
Specifically referring to this ad, there’s always superficial beauty to the old cliche, “Can’t we all just get along?” Certainly, I value great service over any character trait or identity, inbred or acquired. I don’t book airline tickets to gawk at flight attendants in tight-fitting red dresses (a focus of prior Virgin Atlantic ad campaigns) nor long for the “good old” days in which every man wore a suit and tie on an airplane (certain progressives would call that an expression of white heteronormativity and hegemony).
But I do still see value in a uniform style of dress and appearance that embraces the collective goal (predictability, professionalism, pragmatism) of taking focus off individuals and makes it solely, in the case of the airline industry, of providing the very best service.
Individualism and great service are not mutually exclusive. Even so, they are not necessarily bedfellows.
The new Virgin Atlantic ad is simply a reflection of our times (just like the ad below). But there are certain values that transcend all individuals in fostering a great airline and work culture and it seems to me those are placed secondary behind our newfound adoration of individualism.