Branson vs The Crimson Bandit: Social skullduggery or advertising genius?

On 13 June Richard Branson, world-famous founder and leader of the Virgin Group, wrote on his blog that he had lost his diary.

In a couple of simple paragraphs, he explains how much he enjoys using a diary, travelling with it and recording his thoughts and he ends by saying “I’ve been travelling a lot recently so I can’t be sure exactly where I left it, and I know it’s a long shot, but if anyone happens to find it I’d be very grateful if they could let me know!”

This all seemed like a fairly innocent and honest moment from Sir Richard. But things took a strange twist when this mysterious video popped up on YouTube from someone called “The Crimson Bandit”. Check it out.

The message states simply that the Crimson Bandit has “taken the diary” and “there is a price to pay if you want it back”.

The video is enigmatic and cheeky, and at this point, we’re still unsure whether it’s a genuine moment of social media skullduggery or the beginnings of a new elaborate marketing scheme.

The next thing you know, a counter video pops up from his Royal Branson-ness, in which he states that ‘he’s really upset’ and that Virgin is going to offer rewards to people who help him track down the thief.

By this point, it’s becoming clear that a whole new marketing campaign is starting to play out across YouTube.

Not much later, The Crimson Bandit responded, stepping up the challenge saying “I’m going to send a series of puzzles and challenges from your diary to Virgin Companies around the world. If you and your fans can solve them all, you might just catch me.”

So it seems that the stage is set for a global, multi-platform search / quiz in which the end goal is still unknown…but in all likelihood it’s a sophisticated Virgin marketing platform which could shift what consumers come to expect from their global multi-nationals.

The first clue has been posted on the Virgin Money Facebook page.

The shape of it is becoming clearer, and it seems like this contest is going to play out across the various Virgin Brand Facebook pages…should be interesting, and probably some great prizes up for grabs too…

The campaign appears to be aimed at people in South Africa, the UK, Australia, and the US, with the Facebook page telling them where to look for their next clue:

The Crimson Bandit however remains on the run:



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