Virgin and Sir Richard Branson are past masters at using PR to their advantage, so I wasn’t surprised to see them do it again this week for the launch of their new summer service. This time however it wasn’t based around a stunt which required Sir Richard to dress up, but instead used the power of storytelling.
Bring Rufus Home
@richardbranson @VirginTrains #bringrufushome left on the train today – we are desperate for his safe return 8:24 PM – 8 Jun 2014
When 7 year old Ted McCaffery thought he had left his beloved Rufus bear on the train, he was distraught. His mother was desperate, so she decided to go to the very top and tweeted a plea for help to Sir Richard Branson.
As footage from CCTV was to later show, Rufus hadn’t in fact been left on a Virgin Train after all, and happily Rufus was found and returned to Ted by a neighbour.
A happy ending to a potentially sad event but by no means the end of this story.
It turns out that toys account for over half of the items of lost property left on Virgin Trains and that amounts to a lot of anguish. This fact combined with the tweet and the hurt that Ted had clearly been feeling struck a chord with Sir Richard. He asked his staff to come up with ideas that would help ensure any lost toys would arrive home safe and sound in future.
Their solution was the Virgin Trains Teddy Tracker. Special trackers that can be personalised and tied around teddy’s paw. This means that the bear can be identified and, if lost and handed over to Virgin Trains staff, can be sent on their way home.
“As anyone who has young children will know, losing a favourite toy can be heart-breaking, and we know it can often ruin a family day out. We were so touched by the message from Ted’s mother that our staff have been working hard to come up with a solution. And that’s when we had the idea of creating a tracker that you can tie onto your teddy” said Sir Richard at the service’s launch
“It’s so simple but by promising to return any missing toys we really hope that it will help to ease any stress or anxiety that parents might have when taking a trip with their children and ensure every customer’s journey is that little bit better over the summer holidays.”
To further help ensure the safe onward travel of lost teddies, Virgin Trains has also added extra manpower to its priority boarding team who will be asked to be on the lookout for passengers travelling over the summer holidays who need a bit of extra help, whether travelling with lots of luggage or with young children.