Media: Strategy Analysis - Virgin Mobile plays live at V Festival

Brand: Virgin Mobile Clients: James Kydd, Nike Siffre, Mike Garvey, Richard Duff-Tytler Brief: Reassert Virgin Mobile's music credentials with the V Festival Target audience: 16- to 34-year-old music lovers Budget: £200,000 AGENCIES Communications planning: Goodstuff Creative: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R Media buying: Manning Gottlieb OMD Ambient: Diabolical Liberties

STRATEGY

Everyone in the mobile phone world is into music these days - from O2 renaming the Millennium Dome through to 3, which apparently "loves music".

Virgin Mobile's difference is that unlike the other networks, it has real music provenance (stemming from Virgin's musical heritage and its own music interests such as Louder), but it has less budget to exploit it.

An opportunity to reassert this credibility came with the V Festival, which celebrated its tenth anniversary in August. Virgin Mobile was the headline partner and had the last and best VIP tickets available to give away.

EXECUTION

Goodstuff created the communications idea of "Last chance Friday" - giving the last VIP tickets away through live TV ads filmed from the festival.

- Online: Digital was the perfect channel to begin the word-of-mouth and viral brand conversation. In mid-July, a viral film and game created by Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R were seeded to reach music lovers. These persuaded people to register to find out more about the ticket giveaway.

- Press: The first press activity broke in NME and Nuts in the week commencing 15 August, followed by entertainment and TV positions in the tabloids and The Guardian.

Then, on the day (19 August), Goodstuff needed to ensure there was sufficient momentum and interest in the evening's giveaway. It created a more substantial press campaign and took over the Channel 4 and NME.com websites.

- Radio and ambient: Virgin Mobile used its Kiss 100 partnership to get DJs talking about the event live on radio. In conjunction with Diabolical Liberties, the agency created five "Mini V" festivals around London to target people on their way home. People who registered via the viral game, film and Virgin's website were sent an SMS announcing the times of the Channel 4 giveaways.

- TV: TV provided the "live" feeling Virgin Mobile wanted. Channel 4 was the obvious home because of its music and youth credentials. Being home to Virgin Mobile's ad-funded V Festival programme and its forward-looking attitude helped.

RKCR/Y&R worked with the BACC, Channel 4 and Blink Productions to get outline scripts agreed in advance, filming and clearance on the night as it happened from the edit trucks, and back-up copy in case of satellite/technology failures.

The scripts used The Cuban Brothers as the lead presenters, setting up a series of irreverent competitions for viewers to text in and win. The winners of each competition were announced in the next ad break.

RESULTS

The ads reached 11 per cent of 16- to 34-year-olds, who responded in droves (15 times the direct-response norms). More than 40,000 people played the viral game, more than 35,000 watched the viral film and initial brand tracking suggests 17 per cent of 16- to 34-year olds were aware of our activity.

THE VERDICT - Russell Place head of strategy, Universal McCann

This is a clever tactical promotion. It's fast, flexible, immediately actionable and at its core it has a powerful idea in "Last Chance Friday".

This idea leverages the unquenched demand for V tickets and skilfully shepherds the distribution of messages to build to the critical point on Friday 19 August. A resourceful and relevant blend of viral, ambient, listings and PR is used to focus the target towards the live ads. The live ads themselves are spontaneous and engaging, work sequentially and demand a response.

The best festivals add a dimension beyond music; they represent an opportunity to gather, join in and share the experience with friends. The "Last Chance Friday" idea works well because it plays to the motivations of a group of people who desperately want to be part of the experience. Furthermore, as a property it feels portable enough to offer longer-term differentiation for Virgin Mobile across the broader range of summer festivals, film premieres and sporting events.

It's getting more difficult to develop brand relationships credibly through music. Brands that do it well, such as Jack Daniels and Bacardi, have a clear position. There is a growing reaction against brands that want to occupy and badge music content without providing the substance. Importantly, this activity doesn't overclaim.

The V Festival is a mass (increasingly mainstream) event; with greater scale and overall coverage, could the idea have worked harder? There may have been an argument for condensing activity even further to maximise impact - the viral felt like it started too early. Also, the success of the campaign hinged on all the communication adding up to the live ads, but there is nothing to suggest that any appointment to view occasion was created or that there was any meaningful viewer retention between the live ads. No matter how carefully the concept is seeded, the success of the ads is also dependent on the quality of the Channel 4 schedule.

Whether this really worked to create a new group of advocates and reassert its relationship with music, only Virgin Mobile knows. However, this is a brave piece of work and seems to have delivered response; all in all, good stuff from Goodstuff.

SCORE: 4/5.

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