In this photo released by Virgin America Airlines and transmitted at 35,000 feet, Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson surprises travelers as he serves champagne to guests onboard Flight 11 from JFK – SFO, Wednesday, September 19, 2012. (Photo: Virgin America)

Yet another reason to love Virgin? This morning on a Virgin America JFK-SFO flight, Sir Richard Branson surprised guests in-flight by helping Virgin America launch its new ad campaign from the sky with a fun Instagram promotion. Since Virgin America started flying, they’ve been lucky enough to attract some pretty unique frequent flyers – travelers looking for an airline that does things differently, and who also happen to be shaking up the status quo in their own fields.

The idea behind the new “Experience” ad campaign was to bring their cabins to life through the eyes of their frequent travelers or “originals,” like indie film director Kevin Smith, Pandora founder Tim Westergren, Ryan Schreiber of Pitchfork, Animal and Son of a Gun Chefs Vinny Dotolo and Jon Snook and independent artist/Facebook Creative Strategist Ji Lee.

A few of these “original” flyers (including Kevin Smith) joined Branson this morning to surprise guests on a random commercial flight and invite them to share their own “original” photo moments from 35,000 feet via Instagram — which were then live-streamed to billboards in Times Square.

Sir Richard Branson poses with Twitter CEO Dick Costolo onboard Flight 11 from JFK – SFO, Wednesday, September 19, 2012. (Photo: Virgin America).

But the fun doesn’t end with those who were on the flight — all flyers can get in on the act! Those who share their own “original” Virgin America in-flight photo moment via Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #MyVXExperience starting Sept. 19 will be DM’ed a 30 percent off discount on Virgin America flights (up to the first 1000 people) and photos will be streamed to the NASDAQ Board in Times Square through September.

The “Originals” campaign includes digital media executions and vibrant out-of-home (OOH) advertising with a social layer that engages consumers in the airline’s product experience, including its offering of fleetwide WiFi, on-demand films, live TV and music playlists at every seat, interactive features like videogames, Google Maps, seat-to-seat chat and on-demand food ordering.  The campaign also features a wrap of a BART transit tunnel in the airline’s hometown of San Francisco, with the rich imagery of the in-flight experience brought to life for commuters.

Sir Richard Branson poses with Jane Marie, founder of The Hairpin, onboard Flight 11 from JFK – SFO, Wednesday, September 19, 2012. (Photo: Virgin America).

Virgin America flies to San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C. (IAD), Seattle, Las Vegas, San Diego, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Cabos, Cancun, Chicago, Puerto Vallarta, Palm Springs, Philadelphia, Portland and Washington D.C.’s Reagan National (DCA).


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