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Virgin airline Case study


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Case study of Virgin Atlantic crisis in China.
Class Assignment
Made by Junxian Qu

Published in: Leadership & Management
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Virgin airline Case study

  1. 1. Virgin Atlantic VS250 Crisis Made by Junxian Qu LOGO
  2. 2. 01 Introduction
  3. 3. 1 Staff on VS250 ignored Liu Wei’s complain On March 1, a Caucasian male passenger on Virgin flight VS250 said to a Chinese girl :"you f*****g Chinese pig! get the f*** out of here!" She had a quarrel with this man and asked the crew to help, but they ignored her complaints and asked her to sit down or they would expel her from the flight. She posted her story online, and her experience went viral in China. Virgin Atlantic still refuses to apologize.
  4. 4. 3/1 3/273/4 3/10 3/16 3/17 Landed in Shanghai Post her story online Professionals get involve 1M+ People viewed and shared her story Chinese media covered her story Started oversea campaign Failed to make Virgin apologize
  5. 5. Weibo • By March 20, 8M+ people viewed her post and 1.3M people visited a #Boycotting Virgin Airlines page set up on Weibo. Zhihu • 600+ discussions under VS250 on
  6. 6. Search Engine • Domestic media picked up the story since March 16th • The story was covered by 150+ media within 8 days
  7. 7. 02 Campaign
  8. 8. Later that day, the PR team decided to expand their media pool March 17 /通用格式 /通用格式 /通用格式 /通用格式 /通用格式 /通用格式 /通用格式 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q5 Q6 Q7 Q8 Q9 Q10 Q11 Q12 Pitching • Used keywords “Virgin Airline” • Pitched the story to more than 450 media professionals on March 17
  9. 9. Results • Pitched 3300+ media professionals by March 18 • Around 20% of recipients read the pitch letter • Generated 700+ tweets on Twitter • More than 50 foreign website covered the story
  10. 10. Facebook • Set up a campaign homepage on Facebook, received 1300+ likes • 47 discussions on Quora • VS250 was a popular keyword on March 17 for 3 hours Quora Twitter
  11. 11. 03 Virgin Airlines’ Reaction
  12. 12. 3/1 3/273/5 3/17 3/18 3/20 Gave Li Wei a fake steward’s name Replied to her on Weibo Made an official announcement Promised to investigate Crisis Management CEO posted an reply on his blog Told Li Wei the investigation was ongoing Refused to apologize Prepared for a settlement
  13. 13. 700+ 500+ 50+
  14. 14. Twitter • Really sorry to hear about an alleged incident on flight VS250. We do not tolerate abuse and @virginatlantic are investigating. Facebook • We are aware of this incident and would like to reassure you that the safety and wellbeing of customers is always our priority, and we are taking these allegations seriously.
  15. 15. 3 Contacted Influencers
  16. 16. ... as social media expands, we have to be careful about how it is used…We have fully investigated this incident …There was an altercation between a female customer and a male customer who has Parkinson’s disease … Our cabin crew did their best to resolve the situation … one side of the story was shared widely online … (and) resulted in allegations of racism - I reiterate that Virgin companies and people take a zero tolerance approach to racism. We equally take a zero tolerance approach to discrimination against anybody due to a disability … Sometimes the consequences of jumping to conclusions can have a significant impact, in this case on crew members … have received an enormous amount of abuse online.
  17. 17. News Coverage/ PR Spin • Removed negative posts • Changed the subject • Stall • Increased media presence
  18. 18. 04 Pros & Cons
  19. 19. Virgin Atlantic Liu Wei Pros 1. Reacted fast 2. Sealed information well 3. Did not compromise 4. Spin 1. Emotional story 2. Strong use of media 3. Well organized campaign Cons 1. Announcements were not consistent 2. Slow investigation and little exposure 3. Never apologised 1. Target was not clear 2. Lack of foreign media support
  20. 20. 05 Conclusions/ Recommendations
  21. 21. 1 Conclusions 2Solve the emergencies as early as possible 3 Enhance internal communication and crisis management training 4 Recommendations 1. Reach Asia-Pacific media first 2. Virgin Atlantic should expose details about the investigation Successful campaign needs a singular, clear goal
  22. 22. 06 Discussion
  23. 23. Q1: How much responsibility does Virgin Airlines have in this issue? Q2: Did Virgin Airlines do a good job from the PR perspective? Q3: Is there any other way Liu Wei can use to protect her rights?
  24. 24. Jianmin R. (2016, March 18). woman was called "Chinese pig" on flight by passenger, only to be threatened by crew to leave the plane in mid-air. retrieved April 1, 2016, from, Benjamin Z, Richard Branson writes a heartfelt letter after virgin airline staffers were accused of racism. Retrieved April 1, 2016, from business insider, Xiaoying C, (2016, March 17). 维珍航空布兰森回应中国乘客“被歧视”事件. retrieved April 1, 2016, from BBCchina, Mingjie W, (2016, March 17). Virgin Atlantic investigates abuse case as story goes viral. Retrieved April 1, 2016, from Chinadaily, Ashitha N, (2016, March 18). Richard Branson apologizes to woman called ‘Chinese pig’ on virgin flight. retrieved from April 1, 2016, from metro, Kevin M, (2016, March 17) Virgin Atlantic feels force of Chinese social media after alleged racist incident. Retrieved April 1, 2016, from tnooz, Richard B, (2016, March 18) social media and understanding all sides of the story. Retrieved April 1, 2016, from, Haze F, (2016, March 20) Virgin trashed on social media over China racism claims. Retrieved April 1, 2016, from CNBC, References
  25. 25. FIN