Virgin Atlantic Hid Its Latest Ad Inside LinkedIn’s Job Listings

Figliulio & Partners seeks 'Freelance Flyers'

Headshot of Patrick Coffee

LinkedIn is frequently described as one of the world's top social networks, even though its user base is far less active than that of, say, Instagram. But brands have had trouble coming up with creative ways to promote themselves to its 380 million members, many of whom fall into a marketer's sweet spot of affluent professionals under 35.

Yes, LinkedIn can be great for publishing your thought leadership pieces and not quite stalking your colleagues and rivals. But how can brands effectively use it to raise consumer awareness and drum up new business?

Virgin Atlantic and lead creative agency Figliulo & Partners recently figured out a way: a not-quite-real job listing.

To promote its Premium Economy cabin offering among would-be jet-setters who make purchases based on purpose over price, the airline and agency came up with an unusual idea. They've challenged "Evolved Travelers" to submit a job application for a "Freelance Flyer" position along with a 1,500-character micro-essay explaining how a free flight from the U.S. to London would be just the thing to help their career/life goals clear the runway.

Virgin claims to be the first brand to leverage LinkedIn's job search feature for promotional purposes. And its vp of marketing for the Americas, Simon Bradley, says the response has been quite positive to date, with nearly 200 applicants at the time of this posting. Bradley has bigger plans for the campaign; he tells AdFreak that the work is "very exciting for us, and we'll be starting to seed it in our social campaigns very soon."

Here's an example:

Agency founder and CEO Mark Figliluo echoes that sentiment, saying, "This has been a playful way of communicating the benefits of the brand, and they really love Virgin coming to the forefront" of so many users' LinkedIn experiences.

Regarding the history behind the work, Bradley tells AdFreak: "We were the first airline to introduce Premium Economy," adding, "This fits very much into the needs of our target audience right now."

The listing is only the beginning, and Bradley calls it "the teaser, if you like, for a more organic social-first campaign." In the coming weeks, Virgin will introduce more elements in a strategic mix of paid media, PR, CRM and social content. And yes, fans and followers will soon get to meet the lucky winners of the 1,500-character contest as they travel from the U.S. to London and beyond.

The most interesting aspects of this campaign are the nontraditional concept and the fact that Virgin's initial spend was negligible (think the price of a LinkedIn job listing and a freelance flyer microsite).

Will more brands follow Virgin's lead in utilizing LinkedIn? "It is a tremendous medium with lots of organic content and opportunities for brands," Bradley says, "but [related campaigns] have to be done in an authentic way."

On that note, Figliulo tells AdFreak that all options were on the table, conceptually speaking. "I think it's up to creative agencies to help these platforms do things differently, and we are helping LinkedIn think out of the box a bit," he says.

In the case of Virgin Atlantic's Premium Economy cabin, it's a well designed and reasonably priced box.


Client: Virgin Atlantic

Project Name: "Freelance Flyer"

Senior Vice President, North America: Chris Rossi

Vice President, Marketing, North America: Simon Bradley

Marketing Communications Manager, North America: Jenna Lloyd

Creative Agency: Figliulo & Partners

Founder, CEO: Mark Figliulo

Founding Partner, President: Judith Carr-Rodriguez

Partner, Head of Production: Robert Valdes

Partner, Head of Strategy: Caroline Krediet

Copywriter: Chris Baker

Senior Art Director: Jay Wee

Art Director: Casey Isaacson

Account Director: Emily Lalime

Agency Producer: Sam Pasquesi

Strategist: Meghan Luck

Digital Production Company: Hungry

Exposure: Digital

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.