SAN FRANCISCO: Virgin America is working with The CW to promote the March 24 launch of Fly Girls, a reality TV series following five of the airline's female flight attendants.
The airline, approached by production company Collins Avenue Productions, signed on to the show to generate national brand awareness at a time when it plans to enter 40 new US markets – up from 10 – in the next five years, explained Porter Gale, VP of marketing at Virgin America.
“We have a very small advertising budget. We spend about one-twentieth of some of our larger competitors,” she said. “We thought this was a great way to get exposure on a wide basis, even in markets we don't currently fly to.” Gale said the PR budget was also "very small."
The airline is not receiving any compensation for the show, Gale said, and it did not invest financially aside from the plane tickets used to fly the crew around. Virgin America is handling most of the effort in-house, but is consulting with its AOR, Ogilvy PR.
The team screened the premiere episode in late February, on a media flight from California to Las Vegas, culminating with a red carpet event at The Palazzo Hotel. The CW threw a more traditional launch event in New York and developed a Facebook page for the series.
To elongate buzz, the airline will also enable passengers to watch the first four episodes on Virgin America flights, beginning on April 1, prior to the official airing of the third and fourth episodes.
Although it received some positive coverage, the Association of Flight Attendants told the Wall Street Journal it is "disappointed [Fly Girls] appears to portray flight attendants as party girls in search of fun and adventure."
Regarding the criticism, Gale said, “When you watch, you see an articulate group of women concerned with safety, but they like to have fun. You don't have to have those things be mutually exclusive.”
The collaboration made sense, she added, referring to the similar target audiences which include a mix of male and female, as well as an age group starting at 18 years-old.
“My expectation is that the media and buzz about the airline will reach a large age span," she said.