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Dublin: 10 °C Friday 19 April, 2019
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Richard Branson rode in on a massive truck and picked up one of our women

Virgin Media pulled out all the stops for their Dublin 4 launch this morning.

SAY WHAT YOU like about Richard Branson (and people do) there’s no denying he knows how to make an entrance.

The presence of the billionaire at a Virgin Media event at Dublin’s RDS this morning ensured a dozens-strong turnout from the media.

But how would the bearded businessman make his presence known among us?

In the past he’s dressed up as flight attendants (not a great look), blushing brides (ditto), and even jumped off the roof of a hotel casino to generate publicity for his companies and projects.

RICHARD BRANSON : WEDDING DRESS Source: EMPICS

No hot air

As reporters, photographers and other assembled members of the fourth estate gathered this morning, it quickly became apparent that there was nothing for the publicity-savvy entrepreneur to jump off (or abseil down) at the Dublin 4 complex’s Shelbourne Hall.

There was no sign of any hot air balloons on the horizon either. And there wasn’t any particularly good reason for him to dress up as a woman (admittedly, that’s never stopped him before).

In the end, here’s what we got: a brass band, a lot of flag waving, some impressive AV displays – and a lot of, well, let’s call it ‘joshing around’.

brans2 Source: Conor McCabe

What was it all about?

Essentially, UPC is rebranding as Virgin Media.

It happens from next Monday, when all UPC operations in the country – home and business – will, as they put it, ‘transform’. (In terms of what it will mean for customers, we’ll be looking into that in a separate article later – but you don’t exactly have to do anything, it will just happen).

Branson spoke to the media, of course – but his comments were short on detail… At least, they were short on detail about the matter at hand – he talked about the possible nationalisation of British Rail, Jeremy Corbyn, the migrant crisis (it brought a tear to his eye and he discussed it with Bono over pints last night apparently) and mental health.

There’s no denying he was the star of the show, however.

At one point UPC Ireland’s CEO Magnus Ternsjö got up to address the crowd – but the phalanx of photographers kept their lenses focused squarely on the Virgin Group’s founder.

Even though he was just sitting on a sofa.

Earier in the proceedings Branson, Ternsjö and Winning Streak presenter Sinead Kennedy applied fixed grins for a buzzer-based quiz thing that probably sounded like a good idea on paper, but fell more than a little flat (too many members of the media trying to do their jobs, and not making time to be polite and laugh at the scripted gags).

There was quite a bit of reaction when this happened, mind…

brans Source: Conor McCabe

We hear he’s hanging around in Dublin for a while – so don’t be surprised if you see a familiar looking figure base-jumping off Liberty Hall later.

With reporting by Cianan Brennan. 

Read: The secret to building a great business? Hire people you actually want to work with

Read: Goodbye UPC, hello Virgin Media

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