When the competition goes highbrow, what's the CEO of a competing airline to do? Well, if you're Richard Branson you might seek out advertising space that goes below the belt. That's right. . . while politicians, the likes of U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner have lost their jobs over public images pertaining to to their 'junk,' Virgin Atlantic's number one publicity junkie exposes himself to the world at large - and to boot - getting off "Scot" free (literally)!
British Airways' recent innovation to launch a 'think tank in the sky' must have really put a bur under Branson's saddle. Under the marketing campaign slogan of "Ungrounded," BA announced recently its plans to assemble and sequester Silicon Valley tech stars on a June 12th flight in a ground-breaking initiative to partner with the UN and and 100 thought leaders (more at: "British Airways' 'Innovation Lab In The Sky' Sequesters Silicon Valley Techies").
While BA remains the largest UK airline based on fleet size, international flights and destinations - Branson has continuously assumed the role of David in his uphill battle to slay his Goliath competitor with sometimes nothing more than a slingshot. And this week, he went one better (or worse, dependent on your point of view). In an unprecedented move, the Virgin billionaire flashed his briefs under his Scottish kilt, emblazoned with double-entendre marketing catch-phrase: "Stiff Competition."
While some would think the bearded CEO a little 'long-in-the-tooth' to be bearing the home of his private 'bits,' as one reporter put it, Branson plans to age "disgracefully, using his crotch as advertising space for his new venture Little Red."
Little Red has been allocated routes to Edinburgh and Aberdeen following the closure of domestic airline British Midlands. The new airline, which comes under the Virgin Atlantic umbrella, will create 130 new jobs in Scotland and generate £75m in revenue for the Scottish economy. However, still the under-dog, Branson is not happy that Little Red missed out on some lucrative slots at Glasgow airport, which will remain under the auspices of British Airways.
This only added fuel to his fire and another opportunity to bash his long-standing rival. "I would love to be flying to Glasgow as well, but for some bizarre reason the authorities . . . didn’t allow us to have the slots to compete with British Airways out of Glasgow."
With Virgin Atlantic reporting losses of £135m over the past two years, Branson will be hoping that this publicity stunt will entice some of BA's customers to transfer their allegiance to his latest fledgling venture. But will this display leave his prospective customers - like his junk - out in the cold? Perhaps his daughter is the best spokesperson to have the last word on this subject. In an April 8th tweet, she did not seem all that thrilled as to what parts of her 'old man' were flying in the breeze!