Virgin CEO Sir Richard Branson received a surprising request from two interns at a creative design company.
Sir Richard says he “couldn’t resist” agreeing to Holly Hunter and Miriam Pick’s request to use one of Branson’s hot air balloons for a challenge proposed by the Chuckle Brothers, British children’s entertainers.
In an open to the colorful CEO, Hunter and Pick, both 24, included a “smashing pigeon portrait” with an illustration of Branson’s head.
The aviation entrepreneur answered in a handwritten note after the intern’s request received support from messages posted around Shoreditch, London.
His letter stated that “A little bird told me a creative double act in Shoreditch were trying to get my attention. Holly and Miriam, it looks like you’re up for a challenge and your doodle certainly made me Chuckle.
“Well, birds of a feather flock together, so of course we’ll let you borrow one of our balloons. The wonderful Virgin Balloon Flights team are on the case and you’ll soon be enjoying a bird’s eye view.
“In the meantime, here’s another portrait to put a cat amongst the pigeons…”
On the Virgin blog, Branson wrote that he saw the campaign on Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands.
“They decided to combine social media with good old street marketing to get my attention. They wrote me a note and stuck it up on some posts around Shoreditch, London. Their open letter, complete with a doodle of yours truly as a pigeon and a #BalloonPleaseBranson hashtag, reached me here in the BVI.”
“I couldn’t resist replying, with a picture of my own and some puns for good measure.”
His response included a picture of a feline Branson to “put a cat among the pigeons”.
The request for the hot air balloon came after Hunter and Pick volunteered to offer a presentation on double acts as part of their internship at Anomaly, a creative design agency.
They asked the Chuckle Brothers for a challenge to include in their talk, which would be given to 70 members of the Anomaly staff.
After a tweet to Branson that failed to gain traction, the duo printed 200 flyers to attract more attention.
With help from The Drum, an online marketing magazine, the pair got through to Branson 30 minutes before they were due to make their presentation.
“We thought someone was joking then we realized. We leapt around then realized we had half an hour to change the presentation,” Hunter said.
Virgin Experience is now helping them organize the hot air balloon ride and they hope to invite the Chuckle Brothers along.
“We’re still a little bit in shock but are very, very grateful,” Pick said.
“We can’t quite believe ourselves,” Hunter added.
Before Branson’s reply, the interns had fashioned a hot air balloon out of a garbage bag, toothpicks, and a birthday candle. Its inaugural flight lasted just over a second.
“At the start, we were thinking about the end result and what we wanted to teach, but once we weren’t scared to fail it just brought us to this adventure,” Pick told The Drum. “Right now we’re in a park making this fake hot air balloon with a birthday candle and plastic bag in case Richard doesn’t come through. We’re still up for the challenge, we’ve just gone about it a different way.”