Branson hijacks Widow to recast her as Virgin

Scottish Widows is furious that its well-known advertising symbol of a demure young woman in a black mourning cloak has been hijacked by Richard Branson to launch his own Virgin Life insurance service this Sunday.

The airline owner, balloonist and former condom retailer has even hired the same actress, Roger Moore's daughter, Debbie, to dress up in a similar black cloak. Appearing as the leading man in the series of promotional photos is Mr Branson himself. Scottish Widows, the Edinburgh-based insurer, replaced the actress last year, but there is little doubt as to Mr Branson's satirical intentions.

In one of Virgin Life's shots the actress pulls open her cloak to reveal a Virgin tee-shirt bearing the slogan "Get a Life".

Another features Mr Branson whispering in the widow's ear, the widow reacting with a look of outrage. A third has her mounting a Ferrari-red motor-bike displaying the Virgin logo, while the ubiquitous Branson reaches over her shoulder to grasp the handlebar.

Scottish Widows had problems weighing up an appropriate response yesterday. There is no copyright on young women dressed in black cloaks. Inside the company, reaction ranged from surprise and shock to downright displeasure.

Finally a terse statement was released, saying the Virgin campaign merely reflects Scottish Widows' brand strength and pointing out that Deborah Moore's contract ended 16 months ago, when she left to pursue an acting career.

Earlier in the day Scottish Widows' public relations department toyed with the idea of denouncing Virgin's spoof ads, an expression of pleasure that Mr Branson saw the value of the Widow's brand name, and an attempt to create a sound bite along the lines of, "You can't make a Virgin out of a Widow."

The Scots thought better of this more extreme reaction, since it would be likely to provide Mr Branson with even more publicity - something he craves above all else. Neutral observers were left marvelling once again at his ability to attract attention to wildly different Virgin brands and products.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Swiss Banking and Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Can you speak German,...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - 6 month FTC - Central London

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity f...

Ashdown Group: Junior Project Manager (website, web application) - Agile

£215 per day: Ashdown Group: Junior Project Manager (website, web application ...

Guru Careers: Software Engineer / Software Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software Engineer / Softw...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before