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Bolt impersonates Branson to invite people to 'keep up’ with Virgin media

January 18, 2012

Virgin Media launches multi-million pound marketing campaign to tell customers their broadband speeds are doubling

Virgin Media is launching its biggest ever multi-channel marketing campaign as it prepares to double the broadband speeds of over four million UK households.

The campaign by DDB UK uses iconic figures Usain Bolt and Sir Richard Branson to reinforce Virgin Media’s position as the fastest broadband provider in the UK and sees the introduction of the brand-line ‘Keep Up’.

Against an early backdrop of predictable 2012 advertising, the ‘Keep Up’ campaign has veered away from showing the athlete in performance mode. Instead we see Bolt – the fastest man ever to walk the planet – resplendent in running kit and spikes, trying to persuade us that he is, in fact, Sir Richard Branson. In an attempt to convince, he talks to us direct from the Virgin founder’s office wearing a Branson-esque blonde goatee beard. Much to Bolt’s frustration, his efforts are interrupted by the real Branson, who repeatedly tries to get the usurper out of his office.

The ads are directed by Seth Gordon, most recently known for hit comedy movie Horrible Bosses, with the initial execution airing for the first time on Saturday 14th during primetime ITV1 show Take Me Out. The campaign launches on TV and Facebook the night before with a series of innovative five second ‘Bolt-on’ teasers.

The campaign has already started with Usain Bolt pretending to be Sir Richard Branson on Twitter during the week, with the evolving banter between the two using the hashtag #IamRBranson.

The theme continues across all media, including TV, press, outdoor, social, retail and online, with a new campaign site to promote the benefits of the UK’s fastest broadband and to remind current and prospective Virgin Media customers of the company’s supremacy in the broadband market.

All media points customers to Virgin Media’s dedicated website which goes live Friday evening where they can find out when their broadband speed will be doubled. The TV ads end with Bolt pulling his famous ‘To Di World’ lightning pose and waggling his finger at the web address Media planning was by Fifty6.

Jeff Dodds, executive director of brand and marketing communications at Virgin Media, said: “We’ve got a long history of giving our customers more and we wanted to let them know about the exciting boost they’ll soon get from us. Our competitors’ customers might also feel a twinge of envy when they hear about this as what better spokesperson for our superfast broadband than Usain Bolt? He’s the living embodiment of speed! It’s a brilliantly simple idea but the trick was to avoid the obvious sportsman endorsement clichés. This is where DDB UK has done us proud by taking a refreshing, and typically Virgin self-deprecating and cheeky approach to the brief.”

Xavier Rees, managing partner at DDB UK added: “This was an exciting campaign to work on as it’s not often a brand gives something so significant back to its customers.

It’s also not often that you get to do something original with two icons of this magnitude. Keep Up is a fantastic campaign idea and plays strongly to consumers’ desire to avoid missing out on the latest innovations so all the ingredients are in place for a highly effective campaign with massive cut-through.”