Virgin Trains created huge buzz by using a symbol of millennial life to publicise the selling-out of the National Rail Card, which offers discounted travel to 26- to 30-year-olds.
Within four hours of news of the Rail Card shortage trending on Twitter, Virgin Trains’ social team decided to tap into a media trope – that millennials are obsessed with avocados – by launching the #Avocard. For one week, those eligible for the Rail Card were offered the same discounts if they presented an avocado when booking tickets.
Details were added to help bring the campaign to life, such as tongue-in-cheek T&Cs on the website that stated: "Fraudulent use of the #Avocard may lead to prosecution."
#Avocard became Virgin Trains’ most-engaged-with social campaign to date, with more than 31,000 engagements. It also generated 185 pieces of earned coverage, including articles in 20 national titles.
ThePR and social reach was 1.7 billion. There were 35,000 visits to the #Avocard landing page on the Virgin Trains website – and about 50 recorded sightings of #Avocards across its routes.
The campaign was not universally popular – some criticised it for pandering to stereotypes. However, 92 per cent of engagements on social media were positive.
Through boldness and quick creative thinking, Virgin Trains helped to mitigate some of the negativity about the sector and became a major talking point.
"Fantastic - brave, creative, fast and effective. Great turn from negative reactive to positive impact"
The rail industry. Not exactly known for its sense of humour, is it? Or
its love of avocados, for that matter. So, it's no surprise that when
we launched a millennial railcard in the form of an actual avocado, it
caused a sensation.
Within hours, this reactive stunt had become one of our most
successful integrated campaigns ever. We notched up a cool 31,000
engagements on social, 185 pieces of earned media coverage and
a 3.3%** uplift in brand sentiment. And it only took four hours,
£7,360* and some avocados to create.
Who says trains aren't fun?!