Tree of Eden

How big ideas impact little tangible things: “Who the hell does Richard Brandon think he is…?”

Posted in Uncategorized by T.Salami on July 15, 2010

A little tangible thing associated with a big idea implemented successfully makes that still little tangible thing, perceivably larger than it actually is. To prove this, I’ll borrow a quote from Richard Branson’s biography: Losing my virginity

The context for the quote was the Iraq invasion of Kuwait, a precursor to the 1st Gulf war. Richard describes how his (at the time) budding Virgin Atlantic partook in an initiative at his instigation, exchanged foreign hostages in Iraq in return for medical supplies in an agreement with Saddam Hussein.

The crucial point here is that Brandon’s airline scored a PR advantage over its rival British airways ticking of then chairman of BA: John King who famously reacted upon learning of Branson’s successful initiative: “Who the hell does Richard Brandon think he is….part of the bloody Foreign Office?”

In the following quote Richard Branson provides his insight into how this successful initiative would impact Virgin Atlantic but result in a BA campaign to put Virgin Atlantic out of business. Branson says:

“By flying into Baghdad and rescuing the hostages Virgin had again usurped British Airways’ traditional role. At the time I had no idea that the Virgin flight into Baghdad would annoy Lord King so much. I was trying to help out – I had an airplane at my disposal and I could act quickly. Although this plane was one of just four planes Virgin Atlantic operated, suddenly we looked like a much larger airline….”

As such, little Virgin Atlantic became perceived as larger than it actually was because this big initiative was successful.


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