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By Imogen Watson, Senior reporter

July 8, 2020 | 5 min read

Making good on its plans to disrupt the traditional financial partnerships model, this year after a bit of soul searching, Virgin Money announced it had embarked on two major music venue partnerships with the O2 and the SSE Hydro in Glasgow.

Through the ‘Bright Music Moments’ campaign, it aimed to incentivize its customers through exclusive ‘money can’t buy’ music experiences. It is also in the process of revitalizing its Virgin Money stores, under the banner ‘bank by day, music venue by night’ where it hosts live gigs for its customers to enjoy.

While it is technically a move into music, Virgin Money feels it's going back to its roots, as it is returning to where the brand originally began. By doing so, the bank wants to claim music as its exclusive territory, in the hope of engaging better with its customers (especially the younger ones).

As part of The Drum’s Can-Do Festival, Virgin Money’s head of consumer communications, Louise Hodges, sat down to chat with The Drum’s executive editor Stephen Lepitak about its move into music. Watch the interview in full here or enjoy our bite-sized takeaways of her insights below.

“We thought it was an ownable territory”

“We started the journey a couple of years ago when we began looking into sponsorship and our partnerships,” Hodges recalls. “And if you look at financial services, so many banks sponsor rugby teams or football - it’s a sport dominated space.”

She explains how the team then went through a process where it looked into what Virgin financial services actually does, as it tried to figure out what kind of experiences it wanted to give its customers.

“We realised we were the only bank in the land that could really have a genuine and authentic engagement with music because of the heritage of the Virgin brand,” she shares. “It was started in music. So we thought it was ownable as a territory.”

“Slightly offbeat, unusual, memorable experiences”

After pinpointing music as its territory, Hodges says it then built out from there. However, after they got a sponsorship arrangement with the O2 in London and the SSE Hydro in Glasgow in February, lockdown hit, which was stalled its course.

“When those venues reopen, we hope to create some amazing spaces for our customers to come and enjoy music in those venues. We’re looking into unusual things like rockstar experiences or giving people the chance to play on the stage on nights when the venue is empty. We’re also going to be supporting and investing in musical talent in the UK.”

“We want to create slightly offbeat, unusual, memorable experiences. After TV and film, music is the second most engaging and positive thing that people were experiencing during lockdown,” she explains.

"Money is a facilitator"

On why Virgin Money is in the position to become a content platform, Hodges says it’s: “because, if you think about the role of money in people's lives, it's not about banking. Money is a facilitator for so many things, and it's about the things that you can do to enrich your life in terms of experience

She says from its research that the bank knows money is no longer about accumulating things. “Especially for the younger generation - it's about going out and living your best life, which is a terrible Instagram cliche, but it really is about having those memorable experiences."

"Not only through music, but also through the Virgin Group - we have access to great content and also great experiences to bring to our customers. So money and what it can do for people's lives is a really rich territory from a content point of view.”


The intiative has announced that it will be fronted by TV presenter Laura Whitmore after announcing that it was to open the first socially distanced arena in Britain; The Virgin Money Unity Arena, based at Gosforth Park in Newcastle.

Hodges spoke with The Drum's executive editor Stephen Lepitak as part of The Drum's Can-Do Festival, an online event celebrating the positive energy, innovation and creative thinking that can make the marketing community such a powerful force for good. You can watch the interview in full here.

Sign up to watch forthcoming sessions and see the full Can-Do schedule here.

Sponsorship Strategy The Drum Can-Do Festival Virgin Money

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