Virgin America campaign uses Google Street View to give 360-degree cabin tours

Interactive bus shelter ads and digital banners preview flying experience

Virgin America is launching an interactive advertising campaign that lets flyers preview their seats using Google Street View.

The campaign, titled "Seat View" from San Francisco-based Eleven Inc., features interactive bus shelter ads that give 360-degree tours of Virgin’s Airbus A320 using large panel touchscreens powered by the Google technology. The experience is extended online with immersive digital banner ads, as well as traditional out of home and display advertising.

Virgin, the first US airline to incorporate Street View technology into an ad campaign, said "Seat View" is a new way to integrate a familiar product into an awareness-building effort. "We thought it’d be an interesting idea to allow people to see the product before they fly," said Abby Lunardini, the airline's vice president of brand marketing and communications. 

The interactive campaign allows users to zoom around the plane’s cabin, from the gate entry that leads into the flight attendant’s station, down the long path between rows of First and Economy Class Cabin seats. Customers were previously limited to searching online for images of airline cabins or viewing a stationary seat map.

"We really want people to see Virgin’s good cabin experience," said Mike McKay, chief creative officer at Eleven, adding that the campaign provides "natural places where people want to interact with it," online and waiting at a bus shelter.

The tech-based campaign targets the 30- to 40-year-old digital-savvy traveler. "Our flyers tend to be a little bit younger than the general flyer demographic," said Virgin's Lunardini. "We have a high percentage of business travelers because of our specific amenities to stay connected during flights. We’re looking for that new entrepreneur demographic, folks that are looking for a better product and the ability to stay connected."

Virgin America has been collaborating with Google for years. The companies partnered to give passengers free in-flight WiFi access during the holiday season in 2009 and the chance to test out Google Chromebooks in 2011.

"Seat View" is rolling out in major markets this week, including New York; Los Angeles; Dallas; Washington. D.C.; Chicago; and San Francisco.

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