Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson to receive The Drum's Lifetime achievement award: 5 of his best PR stunts

Sir Richard Branson Drum Marketing Award

Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson has been awarded The Drum Marketing Awards Lifetime Achievement Award at this year's ceremony.

The entrepreneur and marketing maverick has spent over four decades pioneering marketing innovation in order to drive his numerous business ventures, with the likes of Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Rail, Virgin Galactic, Virgin Cola, the Virgin Megastore and Virgin America, being just some of the brands to have appeared under his leadership.

Branson has spoken exclusively to The Drum in an interview that will run later this month offering insights from his career and marketing experience.

The Drum Marketing Awards winners will be announced on 30 May at the Park Plaza in Westminster, with this year's nominations available to see here.

Here are just a few of Branson's finest stunts from over the years:

For the launch of his bridal wear brand in 1996, Branson turned up to the media photo shoot wearing a bride's dress allegedly worth £10,000. He had shaved his famous beard and was wearing lipstick and mascara instead.

When the London Eye, originally sponsored by BA, struggled to be erected, Sir Richard immediately scrambled to get a Virgin branded air balloon to float next to the wheel which also bore the phrase 'BA can't get it up' to poke fun at the main Virgin aircraft rivals.

Virgin Cola inspired the famous stunt of seeing Branson drive a tank through Times Square with the mission of blowing up the famous Coca-Cola signpost that has become synonymous with the location.

During the 80s, Sir Richard became famous for his globe trotting air balloon expeditions which would help promote the Virgin brand on an international stage, and proved a huge success drawing news headlines whether he succeeded or failed.

In 2013, after losing a bet of F1 with rival airline boss Tony Fernandes from AirAsia, Branson worked on Virgin Atlantic as an air hostess for a day, including full uniform and required red lipstick, only this time he didn't bother shaving off the beard.

"To get your brand out there, you need to present your business differently than your competition does," Branson once wrote. That is a mantra he continues to live by today.

Read more about Sir Richard's history of PR stunts and his regular business advice entries in his own blog on the Virgin website.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.