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Virgin America offers Chihuahua-themed Snapchat campaign for animal welfare

Virgin America is tapping into sponsored Snapchat filters to raise awareness for its new Tiny Dogs, Tiny Fares campaign.

The promotion gives discounted flights to customers, with a portion of the proceeds going to an initiative to fly Chihuahuas from California, where they are overpopulated, to other parts of the country. Virgin is offering a sponsored Snapchat filter for customers to mark the occasion.

"Last year, we were one of the first airlines to use Snapchat ? giving guests an authentic view of our travel experience and deals in real time," said Christine O'Toole, media relations manager at Virgin America. "With beautifully designed, moodlit cabins and features like touch-screen entertainment, an on-demand food menu, seat-to-seat text chat (and the ability to even send a drink to another seat), our aim has been to bring back some of the fun to flying ? and offering travelers a custom Snapchat features allows them to have some fun and get in the spirit of their trip.  

"Given this, earlier this year we were the first U.S. airline to start offering Snapchat geofilters on an ongoing basis at airports across the country (SFO, LAX, SEA, DEN, and JFK)?a first in the industry."

Tiny Dogs
California is currently facing a Chihuahua overpopulation problem, with many animal shelters in the state struggling to take care of the many small dogs and having trouble passing them off to other shelters.

Virgin America is helping to alleviate that problem by flying Chihuahuas from California to other parts of the country, to help relieve some of the pressure on the west coast for taking care of them, and supplying to demand for small dogs in places such as the east coast.

 With its Tiny Dogs, Tiny Fares campaign, Virgin is encouraging consumers to make purchases of tickets that will see some of the proceeds going to its efforts to fly these dogs to places where they can be taken care of.

Cyber Monday will see some deals and price reductions to make this incentive evens stronger. Additional money will also go to a variety of other animal welfare programs through Virgin?s partnerships with groups such as the ASPCA.

Additionally, the brand has created a sponsored Snapchat filter to raise awareness of the campaign and provide a fun way for consumers to engage with Virgin and its initiative on social media.

Virgin mobile
This campaign is not the first time Virgin has made use of social media to boost ticket sales.

The airline recently held a contest on Twitter, asking their users to submit their best responses to a series of questions, with the chosen winners given the chance to upgrade their ticket to the next cabin ? coach to business, business to first-class, etc. (see story).

Virgin has also made extensive use of mobile to streamline its purchasing process and begun using a loyalty application to gamify its rewards system, allowing consumers to earn points and deals for flying Virgin in a way that extends beyond the standard frequent flyer mile system that many airlines use (see story).

The Virgin Red loyalty app also allows consumers to earn points by playing games and taking quizzes, in addition to just when they make purchases, giving it a unique spin.

Virgin is relying on its social media efforts, as well as the cuteness of the dogs involved, to both drive interactions and purchases and put some of that revenue towards a good cause. 

"As a smaller airline with a limited marketing budget (we are typically out-spent 20:1 by our competitors) and a unique product experience, our strategy focuses on ways to leverage direct engagement with our guests and give them reasons to share their own experience on Virgin America," Ms. O'Toole said. "So in a way, our guests help do the heavy lifting for us ? which has resulted in very strong word-of-mouth and advocacy for our brand, as well as direct sales."