As you may have already seen in the latest issue of Fast Company, branded podcasts are now a thing. And it’s no wonder, since 57 million Americans tuned in to at least one a month last year, up 23% from 2015, and a recent study from NPR found that 75% of listeners took action on a sponsored message. Now Virgin Atlantic is getting into the podcast game with a new six-part series called The Venture.
Made with Gimlet Creative, the company behind branded pods from eBay and Tinder, The Venture aims to explore the adventures of starting and running a business, directly through the voices of those who’ve done it. Subjects include the team behind The Onion, Jonathan Murray, co-creator of MTV’s The Real World, as well as the founders of Kill Rock Stars Records, which has released albums for Elliott Smith, Sleater-Kinney, The Decemberists, and more.
Virgin Atlantic’s head of marketing Jenna Lloyd says the brand has been intrigued by podcasts for a while and felt it was a format that resonated strongly with their business travelers.
“Last year, when we were recording a radio spot with Richard Branson, and listening to him talk about his many adventures, the idea of doing some longer-form content struck us,” says Lloyd. “Listening to an entrepreneur talk about taking that first step into the unknown is equally inspiring and entertaining.”
Gimlet Creative creative director Nazanin Rafsanjani says the idea for The Venture came about through an interest in business stories with founders who did things differently, whether in personality, their approach to business, or what they were creating. “Virgin Atlantic’s founder, Richard Branson, definitely did things differently and we looked to his story for the inspiration behind this series,” says Rafsanjani. “In that same vein, we found pioneers in all sort of different fields–from TV to music to food– who are disrupting their industries and reinventing what’s possible.”
Since last year Lloyd says Virgin Atlantic’s overall content strategy in the U.S. has been underpinned by a mission to uncover how the best and brightest business leaders make their adventures epic, and what it takes for businesses to thrive in today’s global market. The brand ran a series of events, which Lloyd says were inspired by Fast Company‘s FC/LA conference, in Los Angeles, Washington DC, Boston, and most recently, Seattle.
“Gathering together a group of like-minded people, we were looking to provide an opportunity for both established and emerging business leaders to share thoughts and perspectives, as well as give our customers practical insight on what it takes for their business to fly on today’s global stage,” says Lloyd. “Demand for these events was extremely high and we started to recognize there was an opportunity for us to connect inspirational business leaders with audiences who wanted to share in, and learn from, their stories. Together with (agency) Figliulo & Partners and Swellshark, we started to explore the podcast medium as a natural next step to bring our mission to a larger audience.”
The first episode of The Venture launches on April 25th.