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Virgin America: Social Media Replaces Advertising

Posted by: Damian Joseph on June 22, 2009

C. David Cush is the president and ceo of Virgin America. I caught his keynote speech this morning at Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum in New York City. During, “A Good Airline Experience is Not an Oxymoron,” Cush talked about how good design, a pleasant workplace for employees, and technology are all driving the company’s business.

What was particularly surprising was the company’s dependence on social media. As a smaller airline, Virgin America uses sites like Facebook and Twitter in lieu of the giant advertising budgets other corporations command. In fact, Cush says the advertising budget at Virgin America is less than 10% of what he had to work with during his days as senior vice president of global sales at American Airlines.

Also, he spoke of interns at Virgin, tracking the company’s Twitter mentions 24/7. He said it helps solve customer issues in real-time, but admitted using interns wasn’t scalable and that it doesn’t get information about customer issues into the company’s knowledge database.

Shortly after finishing up his speech, I spoke with Cush on camera about social media and the possibility of paying Twitter to organize and analyze Virgin America's mentions on the site...

Reader Comments


June 22, 2009 11:25 PM

Great Article, Great Video... thank you.


June 23, 2009 4:39 PM


This guy is out of touch with his marketing dept. They buy tons of cheap DR ads from ad nets. And of course their marketing budget would be 10x less than American, VA is at least 1/20 their size.

They also only seem to respond to positive tweets if at all. I've asked about several things including their new baggage fee on twitter (yes, i know how to use it properly) and have yet to see any responses. I did get reply once when their CS line was down, but it took 24 hours and multiple tweets. Still, the guy never followed up on an explanation after he said he would.

Axel Schultze

June 23, 2009 4:44 PM

It is great to see how the industry is even to turn, adjust and reflect on the changes of customers and our society at large.

Virign America deserves to get the first "Cease Advertising Award".



June 23, 2009 9:29 PM


How does VA get an award? They do PLENTY of advertising. Billboards, magazines, online? Oh yeah, VAs participation in Social Media IS advertising. They are doing it to get people in seats.

Grow up

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