Mills & Boon rails at 'frigid' Virgin

Romantic book publisher Mills & Boon has attacked Virgin Rail for banning kissing from one of its stations.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

That's not news you hear every day. And we realise that, for anyone unaware of the original story earlier this week, we should explain this one a little before diving in for the full news frenchie. Virgin Rail put up no-kissing signs in the taxi rank at Warrington Bank Quay Station in Cheshire, to help cut down congestion caused by passionate clinches. Lovers, like smokers, are instead to use designated areas for their frowned-upon fix.

The sign was intended as a light-hearted gesture, although given the state of the economy at the moment, we're sure that somewhere along the line there was someone touting the business benefit - the fewer slushy obstructions for commuters en route to the coalface the better, for example. But we can't help thinking that now's not the best time to be seen publicly interfering with people's small pleasures - or at least preventing consenting adults from doing so themselves.

Mills & Boon has now launched a viral campaign to ‘help champion the simple expression of affection', backing it up with groups on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. The call to action, devised by ad agency St. Luke's, encourages people to join the Facebook group ‘Kiss goodbye to no kissing - Mills & Boon Protest', or to upload pictures of themselves kissing at stations to its Flickr group.

There is also a poster asking ‘Why so frigid Virgin?' For its part, Virgin says the station has become ‘increasingly busy' since the introduction of their Pendolino trains between London and Glasgow and Super Voyager trains between Birmingham and Scotland.

Mills & Boon is of course billing the presence of the sign as an infringement of our rights. It also happens to be a handy piece of PR for the publisher. It's doing quite well on that front at the moment. Earlier this year it teamed up with the Rugby Football Union to publish a series of romantic novels featuring rugby players, with storylines involving wardrobe malfunctions during the national anthem. Given Virgin boss Richard Branson's track record with publicity stunts, we're not looking forward to the rail company's response, which may mean him entering an erotic scrum with Bill Beaumont on the concourse at Birmingham New Street.


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