The new strategy shows a return to the nuts-and-bolts of travel comparison.
7 / 10
Returning to a familiar theme, the latest ad from Virgin Trains asks Valerie – its plucky heroine – to make the difficult decision to take her car or the train to a life-changing job interview.
With the help of some jolly musical cues, the spot makes the spirited case that you should always, always take the train.
At the breakfast table, we meet Valerie as she vacillates between her Virgin Trains ticket and her car keys. As a way of convincing her, the rather-imposing narrator rephrases this dilemma as Spandau Ballet or Speedcore?
What follows is a montage of Valerie’s two possible mornings. The first is a relaxed, luxurious train ride set to Spandau Ballet’s True, the second is a nightmarish journey up the motorway thuddingly scored by some very aggressive Speedcore.
If you’re unfamiliar with this particular sub-genre of electronic music, then we’d recommend having a google (though pop your headphones in to avoid confused looks from co-workers).
Of course, "Decision time, Valerie" is a study in perfect contrasts. Everything that goes right on her Virgin Trains journey goes catastrophically, irrevocably wrong on her car journey. It’s a simple but effective piece of emotional storytelling, teasing viewers with the possibility of "the commute from hell" while also showing the idyllic alternative.
Though the spot absolutely zips along, there is more than enough time for some blink-and-you’ll-miss-it visual gags. Slowed down by a flat tyre on the drive up, Valerie turns up egregiously late for the interview and ends up banging on her prospective boss’ window, like Dustin Hoffman at the end of The Graduate.
Dragged away by security, the final humiliation comes when a passer-by films Valerie’s outburst and the resulting video goes viral immediately. This, of course, juxtaposed with Virgin Trains Valerie smiling placidly as she accepts her glitzy new position.
"Decision time, Valerie" is a notable spot for Virgin Trains as it marks the first outing for new creative team Anomaly since they took over the account in January.
The new strategy shows a return to the nuts-and-bolts of travel comparison. Indeed, attentive viewers will remember that Virgin Trains have sought out this terrain before with its "Mr P Lane & Ms. T Rain" showing the contrasting journeys of two commuters.
Since release on Monday, the campaign has been viewed several thousand times and likely not just by Spandau Ballet-diehards.
With "Decision time, Valerie", Virgin Trains has produced a sleeker, smarter version of the same campaign, hoping to win over viewers with their canny ‘80s pop sampling.