adam&eveDDB’s Samaneh Zamani on Virgin Media’s newest campaign, featuring Zahirah from the Melanin Skate Gals & Pals group, writes LBB’s Nisna Mahtani
Virgin Media’s new campaign with adam&eveDDB features under-represented minorities with skater girl Aamira taking part in a sport that gained popularity after Team GB’s success at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Initially watching online videos and admiring skateboarding from afar, Aamira takes herself to a skate park where she tries her hand with tricks of her own.
In the spot, Aamira’s initial efforts see her ‘eat it’ as she falls off her skateboard and she’s taken back to social media where we think things are about to take a bad turn. Thankfully, floods of support pour in for her attempt and encourage her to join a girl group of skaters who take her under their wing and support her skateboarding efforts.
Part of Virgin Media’s series based around human connection, the ‘Melanin Skate Gals & Pals’ community in London was amplified by online connections that drew people together. Forging these bonds has been significant in encouraging people to take part in the sport and is the reason why it has been included in Virgin Media’s newest campaign.
Samaneh Zamani, senior planner at adam&eveDDB, spoke to LBB’s Nisna Mahtani about the strategy that went into planning the campaign.
LBB> What was Virgin Media’s initial premise for the campaign?
Samaneh> This campaign is the third in a series, all based around the same premise – telling stories of the human connections that Virgin Media’s technology and connectivity makes possible – to celebrate the power of the brand’s lightning-fast broadband.
We talk about “telling stories of timeless connections, made in new ways for the modern age”, be that romantic love, father-daughter relationships, or in this case, friendship groups.
LBB> How did you land on this idea and why did it stick?
Samaneh> We were intrigued by the way that the internet and connectivity enable people to ‘find their tribe’ in ways that wouldn’t have been possible in the past, and how vital this can be to young people who are developing and growing into their sense of self. It’s a timeless subject, but the internet has supercharged that dynamic in ways we wanted to explore and bring to life.
LBB> Who is the target audience and how did you set out to appeal to them?
Samaneh> Our audience is broad, families and households who are heavy users of the internet and value their connectivity, so while we are telling a specific story rooted in very specific parts of culture, we believe that embracing specificity in creative executions is what leads to powerfully universal stories that everyone can identify with.
LBB> Research showed that skateboarding has been a largely inclusive sport through online sharing platforms. Can you tell us more about this community and why it was the inspiration for this piece?
Samaneh> There’s no doubt that skateboarding is a sport that’s been on people’s radars off the back of Team GB’s incredible success at the Tokyo Olympics. As with many such passions, there’s a powerful sense of community and connection around skateboarding - the idea of ‘skate tribes’.
Research we conducted for this campaign showed us how important online, digital connections are to people in this world - it’s a big part of how members of skate crews discover each other, stay in touch, and forge a sense of community.
For this reason, it’s a great subject to showcase the power of the internet in forging meaningful connections and a sense of belonging.
LBB> Where was the campaign shot and long did it take to complete, from start to finish?
Samaneh> It was primarily shot on location at BAYSIXTY6 Skate Park in London. This was a six-day shoot.
LBB> The campaign doesn’t have narration, so can you tell us how you went about conveying the story and any challenges you faced?
Samaneh> The brand handwriting we’ve built for Virgin Media sets out to create an emotional connection with consumers through the power of storytelling – specifically, timeless stories of human connection, made in new ways, thanks to the internet.
In a category that can be very rational, and which we also know is low interest for consumers, telling human stories that draw people in and draw them closer to the brand, while also celebrating our product, is the core of our approach.
That gives us a consistent creative strategy and creative handwriting across campaigns, but that still allows us to explore different aspects of culture and community from campaign to campaign.
LBB> What has the response to the ‘We’re better, connected’ campaign been like so far?
Samaneh> We’ve had a great reaction to every aspect of the campaign, from the stories we’ve told to the authenticity that we have been able to bring to them – which has rested hugely on working with partners like ON ROAD, as well as close collaboration with groups from the subcultures that we’ve represented. Here, it’s Melanin Skate Gals and Pals, the skate crew from which our lead actor Zahirah comes, who were additional key partners all through creative development and production.