Vertical Aerospace is projected to be the world’s first commercial electric aviation company to take flight, revolutionising luxury and sustainable city travel with its flagship plane: the VX4. We joined the electric aviation pioneers on their route to launch, bringing strategic, social-first expertise to the fledgling brand. They were looking to engage a complex audience built on multiple stakeholders, driving brand awareness and knowledge growth in investors, early-adopter communities and technical experts.
Our task was multi-faceted and involved engaging different stakeholders across the spectrum of the Vertical Aerospace business. Our method for discerning audience segments breaks them down into Tribes: audiences who share common interests, demographics and psychographic information.
Our Vertical Aerospace Tribes split down across social platforms to inform highly curated content that would appeal to specific tribal audiences. Firstly, investors. As a start-up tech brand, the investor community was a huge part of Vertical’s outlook – and targeting the right people with the right content on socials could move the dial in terms of funding. As many as 75% of investors make investment decisions based solely on online advice, so premium social content that would pique our HNW (High-Net Worth) audiences’ interest would be paramount in securing investment.
The secondary stakeholder audience was policymakers: governments, local authorities and aviation authorities who would help VA push through regulation to allow the VX4 to take to the skies. Third, Vertical’s extensive network of world-renowned partners, from Microsoft to Rolls Royce and Honeywell. Creating a shared value through premiumised, owned content which reflected the values and brand styles of Vertical partners was key in solidifying these relationships. The final audience segment was a global B2B2C proposition, an audience which needed informing and educating, proving the safety of the aircraft, and preparing the general public for launch. As many as 38% of the general public believe a company’s positive impact on society is crucial to building brand trust. With this in mind, our content needed to demonstrate how Vertical Aerospace would make urban travel, and society in general, a more positive experience.
From a strategic perspective, multiple audiences meant a segmented social listening monitoring plan was required, gleaning insight to craft a specific role for different channels for each targeted group through our tools Meltwater, GWI and YouGov surveys. This strategy allowed us to keep content relevant to external market shifts, exciting and engaging, whilst tapping into those key segments across a variety of corporate comms and on-brand messaging.
A diverse audience cross-section meant that our different segments were looking for different things from the brands they engage with, and that varied from channel to channel. Certain audiences were looking for technical updates, the innovations used in the aircraft, the design, the blueprints, the specs. The general public were looking for storytelling, engaging with the people behind the business from CEO Stephen Fitzpatrick to the brilliant technicians and engineers that work on the VX4’s design, proving the human connection behind the brand and giving them a reason to trust. We also needed to show the brand moving forward in real time, from the first tethered hop to the first flight and everything in between, proving to investors that the Vertical brand had long-term value and an active progression plan.
To cover these strands of content, we knew we needed a combination of new, created content and adapted brand creative to ensure we were presenting a luxury brand with a tech focus. With many audiences unable to tangibly experience the VX4 in real-life, we proposed a metaverse showroom – a fully immersive and interactive digital space where investors, partners and the public could explore the aircraft’s features to the most technical of degrees, hear from the people behind the craft and even engage with brand spokespeople in real-time
We understood that many of Vertical’s key partners, such as Rolls Royce, already had a deep connection with these audiences. This led to using these global partners to leverage their audiences and connect with brand fans, bringing Vertical to a new market. Bringing the brand into the real world would be crucial in winning hearts and minds across our audience segments. So, we partnered with key events across the aviation and tech industry to create a VA presence in the real world activated by social. We used behavioural science in the form of ‘nudges’ across social to build excitement around Vertical’s presence at events such as Farnborough Airshow, where we were able to bring the idea of electric aviation to the world. We deployed a nimble social-first production team to create live social content from the show, working the brand harder online and connecting the real-world with Vertical’s digital presence. Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in attendance, and our creative team captured him alongside the VX4 in a press moment leveraged across social.
Due to the nature of the technology, the potential impacts on public life and the innovation involved, a robust crisis comms plan was put in place, with reactive messaging structures and a dedicated community management team to field questions and feedback which came through the direct messaging functions across Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Our paid media tactics targeted key announcements and investor content, and boosted timeline moments like the tethered hop to capitalise on their importance. These moments led to natural pick-ups from tech journalists and aviation influencers, boosting the brand’s presence in the right audience sectors.