Adwatch: Virgin Trains - 'The return of the train'

I love old movies. Remember that great one with Steve Martin, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid? To be honest, I don't either. Nor can I remember any of the old films GGT used for the 80s Holsten Pils ads starring Griff Rhys Jones, which is just as well - it might have coloured my opinion of this very slick ad for Virgin Trains.

The idea is extremely simple. Take scenes from classic movies in which the characters are seen travelling on trains and put them on a modern train. Like I said, the idea is simple enough to write down - but I bet it wasn't nearly so easy to put together.

For those of you who haven't yet seen it, it begins with the young Jenny Agutter and her on-screen siblings from 70s film The Railway Children looking on in awe as a Virgin train thunders past. (Whether they are amazed by the shiny new rolling stock or the fact that it's running on time is anyone's guess.)

We are then treated to Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot in the dining car, while sitting nearby a black-and-white Dame May Whitty is ordering tea from a full-colour Virgin waiter. 'Make sure the water's absolutely boiling,' she insists in a plummy voice that I'm certain would, in real life, result in some very colourful language from said colourful waiter.

All this made me start to wonder when the cast of Some Like it Hot would jump aboard. I needn't have worried because we soon arrive at a station to see Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis struggling in high heels as they rush along the platform in drag, which is always funny. And the bit near the end where Lemmon and Curtis and Whitty brush past Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint from North by Northwest in the corridor is a nice touch.

The fact that the makers have managed to combine the various elements so seamlessly is what makes this ad so watchable. I'm pretty sure it will be very popular with the punters, but do I like it? Yes and no. Yes, it is lovingly put together, with a lot of wit and an eye for detail. But I can't help thinking that I've seen old movies cut together with new footage somewhere before.

So I am left sitting on the fence. A bit like the Railway Children at the beginning of this ad.


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


Oasis #springasmile digital campaign gets people doing good deeds
Coca-Cola: 'Don't approach bloggers with a fait accompli'
Tesco CMO Matt Atkinson: 'It is so important not to stereotype mothers'
McDonald's gives Ronald a new look ahead of global 'Fun times' social media push
In pictures: BrewDog opens first craft beer shop BottleDog for 'beer aficionados'
Facebook ad revenue leaps $1bn as it invests in targeting
Malteser or Maltesers? Mars takes Hershey trademark dispute to court
Apple Q2 profits top $10bn as iPhone sales soar
Lynx tells men not to leave love to fate
HBO captures awkwardness of watching sex scenes with parents
Primark to open first US stores with Boston chosen as flagship location
Marketing spend on the up but a reality check is needed before celebrating
Top 10 ads of the week: Jackpotjoy and BT Broadband fend off Kevin Bacon
Lidl beats Tesco to 10m Facebook fans
Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers