Virgin Trains in £7.5m relaunch through Y&R

Virgin Trains' £1 billion relaunch is being backed by its largest ever marketing campaign as the train company aims to shed its beleaguered image with a £7.5 million multimedia push.

Built around the theme of "a new beginning", the campaign supports the arrival of a 78-strong fleet of new trains on Virgin's CrossCountry franchise, together with the imminent arrival of new trains on its West Coast routes.

The billion-pound relaunch was unveiled by Sir Richard Branson on Monday.

It will put 31 extra trains a day on Scottish routes and see Virgin's cross-country services doubling to 215 a day. For the first time this will include services from Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee to Cardiff.

The push introduces new regular timetables and faster services, with the boosted network aimed at giving Scotland and Wales better links with the regions of England.

A 60-second TV and cinema ad through Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R will spearhead the wider campaign. It aims to focus on the innovative on-board features, which include at-seat audio systems, power points and a walk-in shop.

The ad opens on a steward hurrying down one of the new trains. To the music from the Thomas Crown Affair, he checks the electronic name tags, allowing the camera to focus on the train's new on-board features.

The steward asks for a doctor, and three people obligingly follow behind him to find a woman in labour on one of the tables.

The woman screams as she gives birth, and the camera disappears into the black vortex created by her mouth, emerging as a train from a tunnel. It ends with the strapline: "A new beginning."

Media planning and buying is through Manning Gottlieb OMD. The campaign will run in national and regional press, regional radio and outdoor sites including 48-sheet poster, mega sites and bus sides.

Specific regionalised messages about the improvements to CrossCountry services will run in 42 regional newspaper titles, 640 48-sheet poster sites and 1,400 bus sides. Additionally, two 30-second spots will run on 29 radio stations, and across a range of websites including Yahoo!, AOL and Friends Reunited.

The above-the-line activity will be supported by 100,000 direct marketing packs from Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel targeting potential business travellers, which comprise photo albums showing Virgin Trains' "new baby".

E-mails showcasing the new trains will also be sent to 500,000 existing customers.

Craig Inglis, the marketing director for Virgin Trains, said: "New trains, with all the obvious benefits they bring, are now a reality not a promise, and Virgin can quite clearly be seen to be delivering on its commitments made five years ago."

The TV campaign was written and art directed by Pip Bishop and Chris Hodgkiss. It was directed by Rob Sanders through HLA.

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