Sir Richard Branson Virgin, Brisbane

Virgin Australia called on SongDivision to help solve a problem. Their iconic founder, Sir Richard Branson was coming to do a 15 minute meet and greet with the employees (pilots, cabin crew, engineers, support staff) at Virgin Australia HQ in Brisbane. With previous visits, Sir Richard turned up, got mobbed and had his clothes ripped off by those immediately near him, then got whisked away in a limo.

The Virgin PR team wanted to somehow 'personalise' the meet and greet between 1,200 extremely loyal employees and their hero. So they called on SongDivision for help.

The Solution: Custom Song

Although we're known for getting groups to create original songs on the spot with the help of amazing musicians, we didn't think that this was the best solution. The stage was going to be outdoors where it would likely be windy and there were going to be no video screens. So communicating with a big crowd and interactively creating a song could have been lost in the wind... plus everyone was there to see Sir Richard, and he was only going to be there for 15 minutes.

So we flipped the concept and created the following campaign - the Virgin employees would write an original song before the event, and perform it to him on the day, a big 'hello' from 1,200 people. This 'campaign' approach would ensure everyone knew what was going on, and would achieve the desired objective of personalising the meet and greet.

Two weeks before the event, we emailed all the Virgin employees with the following message:

"Sir Richard's coming to town and we want to give him an experience he'll never forget! We're going to write a song for him with a little assistance from some of best musicians on the planet. BUT WE NEED YOUR HELP WITH THE LYRICS! Send in a 4 line poem about why you love Virgin Australia and the entries that make the final song will get to join Richard onstage for the performance of the song."

We received hundreds of entries within the first few minutes. To give you an idea of how fun the lyric submissions were, the opening line to the song was:

My parents told me I should be a surgeon
I said 'No way', I'm working for Virgin!

SongDivision took the best lyrics, created a super funky song, then went into the studio to record it. One week out from the event, we emailed out the song to the employees so they could get familiar with it.

The Program:

Half and hour before Sir Richard was to arrive, the crowd rehearsed their song, including a call and response breakdown "When I say Richard you say hello!" where 1,200 people literally said a big hello to their idol (again, personalising the meet and greet).

Sir Richard was meant to be delivered by limo to the back of the stage, instead, he walked straight through the crowd where he was, as expected, mobbed!

He hit the stage as the band was playing AC/DC's "It's a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll!", where he was handed an electic guitar, which he pretended to smash Jimi Hendrix style! It was a huge entrance and the crowd loved it.

The SongDivision MC then said: "Richard, we know you're constantly flying all over the planet and it's hard to keep up with what city you're in. So your team here in Australia decided they wanted to do something a little different so you'd never forget your time with them. They've written an original song about you and Virgin Australia. You want hear it?"

Of course he did, and the band and all 1,200 audience members performed it for him, with Sir Richard singing along.

He was having such a good time, that during the guitar solo, Sir Richard went crowd surfing amongst the faithful!

Once the song finished to huge applause, Richard thanked everyone, gave the 10 employees on stage whose lyrics made the final song a kiss (including SongDivision's MC!), then went back into the crowd for photos and autographs. SongDivision kept the party going with a fabulous cover set, as everyone celebrated a unique and personalised experience with their fearless leader they'd never forget.

SongDivision founder Andy Sharpe received a phone call from Sir Richard from the limo on his way to the airport, thanking him and the SongDivision crew for creating such a special moment between him and his team.

The Results:

“It was a beautiful song, a wonderful welcome, and it’s been a fantastic day!” Sir Richard Branson

Sir Richard loved the experience so much he went crowdsurfing and then blogged about it! Check out his blog, where he describes SongDivision as "a great company helping connect employees and customers using the power of music": Click here

"Just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to all of you for such a great event. It has certainly left us all with a great memory of our time with Richard. It was a pleasure working with you all and I look forward to creating more fun and unforgettable experiences in the future.”
Jacqui Abbott, Corporate Communications, Virgin Australia

Sir Richard's thoughts on the event:

Sir Richard crowdsurfing to his very own song!

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Sam McNeill

Sam McNeill
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