Adwatch: Virgin Media ad nails the strategy; now it's time to nail the brand experience

Virgin Media's ad should be used as the foundation for a 'total brand experience'.

Virgin Media: Bolt acts as a superhero
Virgin Media: Bolt acts as a superhero

Virgin Media’s latest ad features Usain Bolt as SuperBolt. He shows how Virgin Media’s Intelligent WiFi gets gadgets back online fast.

The strategy is spot on. I’ve always thought that using Bolt – the fastest man ever to grace the planet – as the human metaphor for Virgin’s ultra-speedy broadband is smart and simple. He’s popular, fun and completely on brand. The quickest man alive also eats fried chicken like the rest of us. Very Virgin.

And it seems to be working. According to the research, the ad scores very well for recall.

So where next for Virgin Media’s advertising? I talk about "total brand experience" a lot – blending communications, media and digital platforms together into a connected brand experience. And that’s where I think the opportunity lies.

Watch the ad then go to the Virgin Media website. It’s well-designed, clean and "frictionless", but it doesn’t feel connected to the ad you’ve just watched. And it does look like a lot of other modern digital platforms. It’s standard best practice user experience but at the expense of brand practice. All completely logical, but not differentiated, memorable or fun.

So the question is: how can Virgin harness both the creativity of brand thinking and the customer-centricity of design thinking? How could the brand cues and Bolt personality that work so well in the advertising be translated into digital experience principles across the website and app? Could fun and speed be brought into the interaction design? Could even the cookie message be treated differently?

Indeed, reimagine the campaign as a "total brand experience" and broadband sales could rocket. Just like Bolt on the track.

TV ads 11 March-7 April 2019. Adwatch research is conducted via an internet omnibus survey among 1,000 adults in Great Britain, aged 16-64, through Research Express, part of Kantar TNS, one of the world’s leading data, insight and consulting agencies. Data supplied by Ebiquity.  

Matt Holt is UK chief strategy officer at Digitas