Virgin Trains pulls out all the stops in potential final ad

A rocket-powered bench features in quirky ad by Anomaly.

Virgin Trains makes a light-hearted attempt to imagine the perfect vehicle in a new ad highlighting the benefits of travelling on its trains.

Created by Anomaly London, the TV spot features a man travelling to Wigan on a pimped-up bench that provides him with food, entertainment, company, a drinks service, a toilet and free Wi-Fi as it travels on its own road. 

After it gets a bit hairy, the man is transported into a relaxing Virgin train, where a salad awaits. Virgin Trains will sell a version of the salad featured in the ad, created to coincide with the campaign, on board.

Joe Corcoran, head of creative at Anomaly, said: "Virgin isn’t a company that’s just added their logo to a train. Over 22 years, they’ve reimagined and built what train travel can be. That was the starting point for the campaign.

"If you were to imagine what perfect train travel could be, you’d make it faster, comfier, fill it with great food, proper coffee, Wi-Fi, entertainment… a Virgin Train, essentially. We hope people find it as enjoyable as an actual Virgin Train."

It might yet be the last campaign for the brand because Virgin Trains could disappear from the UK as early as November after the Department for Transport barred its shareholder, Stagecoach, from bidding for the West Coast franchise over a row about pension liabilities. 

The work was created by Mike Whiteside and Ben Robinson. Keith Schofield directed the ad, which launches tomorrow (8 June) night, through Caviar. Comedian and actor Mike Wozniak did the voiceover. Editing was by Marshall Street Editors and the sound studio was 750mph.

A media campaign, planned and bought by Manning Gottlieb OMD, kicks off today and will include video-on-demand, traditional and digital out-of-home, social, radio and cinema activity.

The outdoor, radio and social executions use the "brand world" Anomaly created in 2017 that features a Virgin red background with rough drawings and handwritten writing it claims emulates the brand's "punk energy".

Anomaly won both the East and West Coast Main Lines in 2017. Virgin Trains lost the East Coast franchise last year and the new operator, London North Eastern Railway, is currently carrying out an advertising, digital and CRM review. Anomaly has decided not to take part.