It's an old advertising trick to promote your product by dramatising the poor performance of a fictional competitor. But in this week's highlight, Virgin America has taken the technique to a whole new level combining pure realism and some odd illustrative representation to present the full unadulterated horror of 5 hour 46 minute flight on a crap airline.
And they accurately bring that experience to life with a video that is 5 hours and 46 minutes long. Over that period you get: drab décor, a crap seat, screaming babies, a child banging on the seat in front of you, inane conversation that you just can't unhear, vomiting drunks, loud snoring, no in-flight TV, some peanuts and a whole lot of boredom. All rendered in hues of grey and beige, with inanimate and poorly dressed dummies doing the acting.
But it's brilliant. And it's brilliant because it's so well observed and amusingly scripted. The overheard conversations are hilarious in their banality, and the flight is packed with some almost plausible comedy characters saying and doing some almost plausibly daft things. (One of my favourite bits was the pilots' conversation accidentally broadcast over the intercom from 4hr 49m onwards).
Clearly not even an aviation-obsessed-masochist is going to watch the full length video. The makers have rightly recognised the viewer will skip about, probably only watching about 5-10 minutes worth of the 'action', so they've avoided any continuous narrative and made this a collection of vignettes and comedy moments. The whole thing works perfectly to emphasise Virgin America's service credentials and the brand's cheeky sense of humour. To cap it all off they've also built a website for Blah Airlines. Check out the glowing customer testimonials.