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The Ability To Predict The Future, Ninja Reactions - Move Over X-Men, Virgin Atlantic's Super Hero Staff Are Here

Before today, I thought the only thing you needed to be an air hostess was an easy smile, a degree in Media Studies and a lot of red lipstick.

But, no. I was totally wrong. It seems the minimum requirements are the ability to predict the future, ninja reflexes, the power to change the weather - and a lot of red lipstick.

Or at least that is the case at Virgin Atlantic, according to their epic new Heroes-style ad campaign. Created by RKCR/Y&R, UK, it profiles five children from around the world growing up with special gifts. For example, one has unbelievable reflexes, another is super-smart, while another has the incredible ability to make people smile.

So what does the future hold for these Super-humans? A life fighting crime? A life making the planet a better place? No, a career as one of Virgin Atlantic's cabin crew, of course. Yep, being a freak seems the minimum requirement for any of Virgin's cabin crew (a thought that has crossed my mind a number of times while using certain other carriers). 

You would have thought that the ability to predict the future at the very least would put you on the road to a jet-set lifestyle. It does, apparently, but only while earning £30K a year plus benefits.

Of course, the ad is not supposed to be taken seriously, and instead draws attention to the special people who work for Virgin Atlantic. It's also a very entertaining ad that is well worth a look.

So far, its performance, however, has been less than super-human. Launched on December 28, it has only attracted just over 13,000 shares. But it could just be a late developer.


Virgin Mobile Ad Encourages 'Happy Accidents'

The title 'Happy Accidents' brings to mind various images: unexpected pregnancy, bumping into old friends... but probably not throwing your phone in a blender.

Well, the latest spot from USA's Virgin Mobile does just that. In fact, it encourages you to deliberately wreck your phone in order to pick up one of their new offers.

It might seem like an extreme measure, but we've all experienced the frustration of buying a new phone only for a newer model to be released a month later.

And with Virgin now offering the best phones for just $35 a month, it is a pretty big temptation. The obvious thing to do is chuck your current handset off a balcony, or maybe drop it in your date's glass of wine.

However, with just 979 shares from its 89,339 views, it seems viewers aren't convinced by these extreme reactions. Perhaps they're waiting for the iPhone 5.


Prank Or Fail. Who's Fooling Who?

According to the website,, there were more than 350 April Fools' Day pranks conducted by brands and bloggers across the web yesterday.

We kept track of the automotive ones and of these, only four out of nine embraced the medium of video - with one of those (Google's driverless NASCAR race car) not even shareable.

So what is it about April Fools that deters brands from getting involved?

It's like karaoke, without the music..

I came across a phrase while compiling our article, Ad Watch: The most amusing Automotive April Fools’ pranks of 2011/2012, which sums up the problem:

"April Fools is like a huge open mic night in which millions of people go out of their way to demonstrate how unfunny they are.."

Most brands lack a sense of humour and when they attempt humour, it goes against their very nature to be self-deprecating - in fact, the humour is usually a less than subtle way of sugar-coating a dry and self-promotional press release.

2012's winners and losers

Take Automotive vehicle information expert, HPI, (the people you contact to find out if your car is stolen, owes finance or has been clocked). Their April Fools' prank 'HPI helps singles survive the dating scene and avoid a relationship write-off', while interesting in theory, spent two thirds of the release talking about the £35,000 guarantee available as part of their HPI Check service (yawn..).

Past masters BMW are renowned for their April 1st pranks, which have included; BMW Political Roundel Attachment Tag (PRAT) that let owners show their partisanship during the 2010 General Election, the BMW M3 Royal Edition, built to celebrate Kate and William's royal nuptials, and, of course, 2008's Canine Repellent Alloy Protection (CRAP), which was the brainchild of Dr Hans Zoff..

However, this year, their April Fools' prank - BMW introduces the driverless Running Coach - was little more than an advert for BMW’s involvement in the London 2012 Games.

Of the social videos produced, Subaru's 'Beat the hosepipe ban with a self-cleaning Subaru' earned just 6,000 views and less than a handful of shares.

TomTom's 'Darth Vader holds the key to making your children happier' reached the giddy heights of 280,543 views (which perhaps reflects the huge popularity of TomTom’s videos) and Peugeot's 'RCZ Mood Paint Demonstration' reached an audience of 51,864 viewers.

What can we learn?

The first rule of April Fools is: Do not promote a real product. The second rule of April Fools is: You do not quote real facts in your press release. But the third rule of April Fools is: Unless you're really funny, don't try to be.

Compared to last year, when we had Land Rover's 'Self-levelling Tax Disc Holder', Autoglass' 'Self-reparing Glass for iPhones' and BMW's 'M3 Pickup', this year's pranks were in-the-main press releases for products and services, which on every other day of the year would feature in ordinary adverts displayed online or in magazines and newspapers.

Google's driverless NASCAR racer, which was clearly a promotion for Google's 'real' self-driving guidance technology, was hardly better and creating a video that could only be viewed in North America, and even then primarily on's website, seems the very antithesis of virality.

Perhaps the best example this year of the perfect April Fools' campaign came from Richard Branson and the Virgin Group. As with the latest Usain Bolt Virgin Media ads, Branson got personally involved, engaging his 1.9 million Twitter followers in the hoaxes; Virgin Volcanic, which will provide journeys to the centre of the Earth, Virgin Holidays' new Branson currency, which is all set to replace the Pound, and my personal favourite, Virgin Active's ‘Bare and Burn’ regime, which launches the UK’s first entirely naked workout session.

Interacting on Twitter with the likes of Tom Hanks, and Seth Green added further credence to the Virgin hoaxes, showing yet again that for an April Fools' prank to succeed it must be believable, surprising and never portray a brand taking about itself or taking itself seriously.

Neither of Branson's pranks relied on video, but that just goes to show that you need to get the story right before dipping into the creative box of tricks.

You can view all the automotive hoaxes and pranks from yesterday's April Fools' Day on SkiddMark.


Top Shared Ads Of The Week: Call Of Duty Calls The Shots

The latest trailer for the upcoming videogame Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is the most popular ad of the week.

Possibly the most anticipated game of the 2011, the new all-action video, entitled ‘Redemption’, has whipped up a storm online, attracting a mammoth 193,748 shares across Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere over the last seven days.

It’s not surprising. Call of Duty (COD) is one of the most popular games franchises of all time, while Activision has promised gamers that Modern Warfare 3 will be the ‘most epic game of all time’.

And judging by the trailer, which bucks previous MW offerings by focusing on the single player mode, they could well be right.

Characters from COD even feature in the second-placed ad for the PS3. Part of the ‘Long Live Play’ campaign, the two-minute clip, created by agency Deutsch has so far attracted over 181,000 social media shares since it was released on October 4.

Called ‘Michael’, it features some of the most popular Playstation characters of all time as they pay tribute to gamers everywhere.

Other ads to feature include Apple’s introduction to SiriCarlsberg’s hilarious biker stunt and a French ad for Virgin Radio that is inspired by popular UK TV show, The Inbetweeners.

  • The Top 10 Ads of the Week chart ranks the commercials that have attracted the most shares across the social web in the last seven days. To keep it fresh, it only includes ads that were launched in the last 30 days. Movie trailers do not feature on the chart. Click on the videos for stats.


Virgin Radio's ‘Louder is Better’ Campaign Takes Over YouTube

This new advert from Virgin Radio really reminds me of a scene from the award-winning The Inbetweeners series. I think you will see why.  

It stars a car full of long-haired teenagers and a dear old mum in a hilariously frantic state. No doubt she is chasing him to make him tidy his room or do the dishes, as mums do. 

As the video demonstrates, if your mum is going off on one, the best cure is to just jump in your friend's car and crank up the stereo and watch her wave her arms around like a raving loon. If it doesn't solve the problem, it at least makes for priceless entertainment.

Despite being in French, the ad doesn't require a university education to get the gist, so can be enjoyed by all.

Be sure to take a look at YouTube to see their Louder Is Better takeover. It's pretty impressive. 

This funny ad was made by French agency, Buzzman and really reminds me of my youth. I have definitely done this on more than one occasion. 

Anyhow, check the video out below, it made us chuckle.