Often times when advertising is socialised (democratised?) and put forth to the consumer public, it goes terribly wrong. Consider, if you will, those Chevy ads of the recent memory. Or the bridge in Hungary that was named “Stephen Colbert”. In other words, the results are unpredictable.
But the folks at Boing Boing have actually done something right — and clever — in their naming of a plane for Virgin America. Following Virgin American’s ‘Name Our Planes‘ contest, the airline will be christening “Unicorn Chaser” as the newest member of their fleet. The plane joins it’s newly-named sisters “Mach Daddy”, “Jefferson Airplane” and “Jane” among others.
I’ve been meaning to comment about Virgin America for some time. It’s yet another extension in the Virgin empire, and another venture into transport. (Virgin Trains have been rather successful in England, and of course Virgin Atlantic, which rocks, and Virgin Galactic, which is certainly worth reading about if you don’t already know that story) Virgin is often cited as the quintessential example of monolithic branding, and I for one something ponder how it is that these companies can succeed cross-trading on the Virgin name which originally came from High Street record stores. In many ways, they are an exception to every branding principle — if you can logically explain to me why I should trust a company that sells wedding dresses to also provide me with mobile phones to also provide me with cans of cola, I’ll eat my hat. (which is probably also made by Virgin)
VAm’s design sense is a bit of a break from it’s cousins in the Virgin family. The type is fresh and modern and lower-case. Also, they seem to be taking a break from the overpowering red, and taking a more white-and-grey approach — very swiss. It will be interesting to see how intensely they bring Blue into the mix, to be only that lil bit American. Keeping it Yankee, you know. While the design aesthetic of Virgin America may not immediately conjure up images of unicorns and Rainbows (vector art is quite sterile, no), the mythology does align, and therefore “Unicorn Chaser” is a perfectly appropriate title. In Western mythology, the unicorn is an elusive animal, and can only be tamed by a virgin. Some stories tell how they can only be seen by virgins. In the crest of the British Royal Family, the unicorn is pictured in chains, a reference to both the Virgin Queen (Elizabeth I), and more controversially, the forced inclusion of Scotland. (Scotland itself is often represented by the unicorn).
More recently, we’ve seen a bit about unicorns in the Harry Potter mythology. There, the unicorn blood brought vigor and unnaturally long life to anyone who drank it, but at the price of being cursed for slaying the said unicorn. No mention of whether or not your allowed to drink the blood of natural-deceased unicorns.
You read it here first, Virgin will soon go into business selling rides into space on winged Unicorns. (see concept illustration above)