It’s fascinating to watch the world of corporate-speak shifting and changing to cope with the recession. As High Street stores close, and businesses lay off staff, the language that we hear from many businesses is changing too. Words like ‘value’ as in value for money and ‘bargain’ as in cheap and ‘quality’ meaning will last for a long time are replacing ‘investment’ as in buying our stuff is investing in your future and ‘style’ as in our style makes a statement about you and fashion, meaning this isn’t cheap and it won’t last long, but it’s totally up to the moment.
Virgin Atlantic have taken this shift in language into the world of uniforms. Their advert, celebrating a quarter century of international travel, has no words except the soundtrack of Frankie Goes To Hollywood singing “Relax”. But what it does do is pick up on all the themes that are covered in both sets of language above. We see the signature “red-hot” Virgin uniforms on leggy hostesses striding through Heathrow airport 25 years ago. Passengers in pale, unfashionable clothing turn and stare at the glowing clothing, and one man is so entranced that he spills ketchup from his Wimpy burger down his boring white shirt. The red uniformed beauties are accompanied by cute, uniform-wearing male captain who makes meaningful eye contact with a stylish older woman … something for everyone is clearly the message.
The key point though, is twofold. The clickerboards rotate to show that Virgins flights are all ‘on time’ while other flights are delayed, and rival air hostesses frown and look miserable in their boring grey outfits as the Virgin team stride past them. The message is clear, Virgin gets you there on time and in style.