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Work Life: Breda Bubear, Head of Global Advertising & Communications


Breda Bubear, 44, is head of global advertising and communications for Virgin Atlantic. She lives in West Chiltington, Sussex, with her husband Matthew and their sons Connor, 11, and Cameron, eight

My early starts – 6.20am – aren’t particularly easy in the winter. But it’s nice to have an hour or so with the boys before I head to work. My husband and I both travel a lot – in the next several weeks I’m only seeing him for about 10 days. But we make sure one of us is at home in the UK at all times. We also have a fantastic nanny. She’s the glue that holds the family together.

After showering I’ll get dressed. I tend to wear a dress or jeans, with Kurt Geiger shoes. Then I’ll have a latte while the boys have breakfast. One side of our house is all glass so I love gazing out at the amazing views over the South Downs. I’ll drive the boys to school then head to the office in Crawley, West Sussex for 8.30am. I’m responsible for all advertising and marketing at Virgin Atlantic – the creative material, TV advertising (like our most recent ‘Flying In The Face Of Ordinary’ campaign), cinema adverts, press, billboards and digital publicity. It’s a huge job. Sometimes I panic because I feel a massive amount of responsibility. But on the other hand it’s second nature. I’ve been at Virgin Atlantic for 23 years and worked in almost every area of the company from trade communications to corporate events. Hard graft and being a perfectionist mean I’ve worked my way up to what I believe is one of the best jobs in advertising.

The first thing I do when I get to the office is grab some toast and scour my emails. The Virgin offices are housed in an amazing circular building with a restaurant and roof garden in the middle. The decor is red and white and the walls are covered with Virgin Atlantic wallpaper, which is a montage of pictures, many including Richard Branson’s face! We’ve also got a gym and a beauty salon.

Richard’s such a charismatic man. I used to work closely with him in corporate events and would organise the huge staff parties at his house. He’d host about 20,000 people over two weekends at what was essentially a festival. When Virgin Records was around we’d have people like Kylie Minogue and Michael Hutchence at the parties. It was very glamorous.

Now I manage a team of about 28 and my mornings will be crammed full of meetings to discuss upcoming campaigns, evaluate scripts or go over projections for the coming year. One of the most important things I do is make sure our content is globally relevant. There’s no point in us making a TV ad that speaks to people in the UK, but is offensive to our customers in Dubai. The stewardesses have their shoulders covered and skirts below the knee, for example. And we’d never show a man displaying the soles of his feet, as it’s considered very rude in parts of Asia.

The campaign I’m most proud of is ‘Still Red Hot’ for our 25th birthday. It was the first time I’d ever heard people talking about one of our campaigns in the street. I became a minor celebrity for a while! People were coming up to me going, ‘I heard you did that Virgin ad’. One time, my dad had to stop my mum running over to the next table at Costa because the women were saying how much they loved the advert. She wanted to shout, ‘My daughter did that!’

For lunch I’ll have a brie and bacon sandwich before heading into more meetings. Sometimes Richard pops in. He lives and breathes the brand so he likes to know what’s going on. People always ask if I get to travel first class for work. Sometimes I do, but only if there’s a spare seat on the plane. I do travel a lot. Every quarter I’ll fly to New York to meet our teams and advertising agencies there and I visit all our other markets – South Africa, Australia, India and the Far East at least once a year.

I usually get home at about 7pm. Our nanny will pick up the boys from school and cook for them – luckily, she makes enough for my husband and I too. She’s Swedish and makes amazing food like meatballs with potatoes and vegetables. Sometimes my husband and I go out to a gig like The Killers or Hurts in the evening, but usually we’ll watch a US box set like Homeland before going to bed at about 10.30pm.”




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