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Virgin's April Fool's Day Hoaxes
UFO Lands Near London. (1989)
On March 31, British policemen were sent to investigate a glowing flying saucer that had settled down in a field in Surrey. As the policemen approached the craft with their truncheons held out, a door opened in the bottom of the ship and a small figure wearing a silver space suit walked out. The policemen immediately took off in the opposite direction. The alien turned out to be a midget, and the flying saucer was a hot air balloon that had been specially built to look like a UFO by Richard Branson, the 36-year-old chairman of Virgin Records. More…
Still Champagne. (1992)
Virgin Atlantic ran an ad noting that the waste gases from champage (CO2 + NO1) recently had been found to have "a detrimental effect on the upper atmosphere and contribute towards the depletion of the ozone layer." For which reason it had commissioned a special "still champagne" to serve on its flights. It promised that the taste was "distinctively dry with a hint of flint." More…
Blue Can Warning. (1996)
Virgin Cola announced that in the interest of consumer safety it had integrated a new technology into its cans. When the cola passed its sell-by date, the liquid would react with the metal in the can, turning the can bright blue. Virgin warned that consumers should therefore avoid purchasing all blue cans. Coincidentally, Pepsi had recently unveiled its newly designed cans which were bright blue. More…
Butterfly Advertising. (2002)
Virgin Atlantic announced plans to print ads on butterflies: "Dr Antonia Monteiro at SUNY Buffalo is developing a genetic modification method that would allow companies to put markings such as logos on butterflies by scanning their wings with a laser beam. Virgin is confident that butterfly advertising will become a successful and popular new medium for airlines… Virgin executives say they hope to launch the butterfly program by the spring, allowing time for final testing and lasering of the Virgin logo on the butterflies." More…
Left-handed Cellphone. (2004)
Virgin Mobile announced that it would be offering a left-handed Sony Ericsson LH-Z200 mobile phone: "Designed with a reversed keypad layout, the buttons are switched from right to left instead of standard left to right… This simple but clever design makes dialling, texting and menu navigation quicker and easier for anyone left-handed." A number of technology sites fell for the joke. More…
Scratch’n'Sniff Credit Cards. (2005)
Virgin Money of Australia announced the introduction of barbecue-scented scratch'n'sniff credit cards: "The scratched 'aroma' will embody the spirit of Australia, reminding owners of a freshly barbequed snag. Virgin Money expects the new card to be particularly popular amongst Aussies travelling overseas who are seeking a mouth-watering memento to remind them of home."

Animal Active Gyms. (2009)
Virgin Active, Sir Richard Branson's health club chain, announced it would be opening the UK's first-ever animal-only gym, Animal Active. It would be "a haven for animals in need of exercise or lifestyle management." "Trained exercise co-ordinators will run a series of group exercise classes which will include Pooch Paunch Buster, Puuuroebics, Wag Attack, Canine Crunch and Pawlates. There will also be a weigh-in area for all pet owners to come and check the weight of their pet. A full time vet and pet nutritionist will also be on hand to answer any health and diet queries." More…
Ferret Broadband. (2010)
Virgin Media revealed (via an article in The Telegraph) that it was using "specially trained ferrets" to help lay cables to expand broadband service to rural areas. The ferrets wore jackets fitted with a microchip that was able to analyze any breaks or damage in the underground network. Jon James, director of broadband for Virgin Media, remarked: "For hundreds of years, ferrets have helped humans in various jobs. Our decision to use them is due to their strong nesting instinct, their long, lean build and inquisitive nature, and for their ability to get down holes. We initially kept the trial low-key as we wanted to assess how well the ferrets fitted into our operations before revealing this More…
Richard Branson Buys Pluto. (2011)
Richard Branson announced that he had bought Pluto "for an undisclosed sum." His intent was to have it reinstated as a planet, which he planned to do by constructing a deep space vehicle that would drag asteroids and space debris to Pluto, thereby increasing its mass until it had reached the requisite size to be considered a planet. He hoped that Pluto's return to planet status would "set an example for struggling entrepreneurs facing setbacks." More…
Virgin Volcanic. (2012)
Richard Branson announced that his company, Virgin, had developed a vehicle "capable of plunging three people into the molten lava core of an active volcano." With this vehicle, he planned on journeying to the cores of five active volcanoes. And in the future he hoped to be able to offer commercial transportation that would go "through the Earth rather than round it," traveling from Hawaii to Naples via molten lava flows. More…
Glass-Bottomed Planes. (2013)
Virgin Airlines announced that it would be adding glass-bottomed planes to its fleet, in order to ensure that "passengers can enjoy both an unparalleled flying experience, as well as a selection of stunning landscapes from the comfort of their seats." The company promised that every passenger would enjoy "the chance of a bird's eye view with an extra special opportunity to look down on the beautiful scenery of Great Britain as they fly." More…
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.