One of the many Airbus jets in Virgin America's U.S. fleet. Source: Virgin America.

If marketing matters -- and history says it does -- then privately held Virgin America just hit low-fare rivals JetBlue Airways (NASDAQ:JBLU) and Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV) where it hurts.

Late last week, Virgin posted to YouTube a new in-flight safety video that's since gone viral. More than 4.2 million have watched the company's "safety dance" as of this writing. Don't join them unless you want to be  even more disappointed the next time you strap in to fly another carrier.

Which is exactly how Virgin wants it, naturally.

But does selling fun really amount to a competitive advantage? Since Virgin is private, there's no way to measure its revenue or traffic. But if Adobe is right and social buzz is an important indicator of consumer interest, then Virgin may indeed be gaining altitude on its larger rivals.

YouTube Subscribers
Twitter Followers
Facebook Likes
Destinations/Fleet Size











Virgin America





Data current as of Nov. 4, 2013. Sources: YouTube, Twitter, Facebook.

How this stock turns next is anyone's guess, but I think it's instructive to remember that both JetBlue and Southwest have adopted more upscale features in recent months as Virgin America's continues to treat cheapskate fliers to premium features such as customizable in-flight entertainment. Call it attitude at altitude. Virgin may not be leading the low-fare game, but it  might just be changing it.

Now it's your turn to weigh in. Watch the video and then leave a comment to let us know what you think of Virgin America compared to JetBlue and Southwest

Virgin America's marketing takes flight with a new safety video. Sources: Virgin America, YouTube.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.