Address: Berkeley Square, London W1.
Date of birth: 12 November 1999.
Nationality: British. Sir Richard Branson is a keen flag-waver.
Marital status: Wedded to One2One, which provides the network, leaving
Virgin free to devise its own tariffs and customer services.
Background: In 1998, with many of the mobile phone operators being
slammed by Oftel and consumer watchdogs for confusing contracts and high
charges, Branson saw the market as classic Virgin territory. His plan
was to offer a simple, value- for-money solution.
The result is a ’single tariff’ phone, paying a one-off fee for the
handset and connection and then a sliding scale of call costs depending
on how much the phone is used. The launch was trumpeted with a teaser
poster campaign using taglines such as ’V soon’ and ’V overdue’.
Virgin Mobile is the first ’virtual’ mobile phone company in that it
rents its network from One2One. This has pushed the cost of Branson’s
latest venture up to pounds 100 million, which he hopes to recoup by
signing up at least one million customers in its first year.
Key brands and managers There’s only one brand - after all, this is
supposed to be a simple service. The brand manager is Alison Pye, while
direct marketing and promotions are looked after by Lucy Bubear.
Brand director James Kydd is Virgin’s launchmeister, having overseen the
debuts of Virgin Cola and Virgin Vodka. He’s also worked on Virgin
Atlantic and Virgin Trains.
Contact number 020-7887 7110
Media agency and account manager: Manning Gottlieb Media handles the
account, under the watchful eye of account manager Mark Gallagher.
Annual media spend: The brand spent pounds 4.35 million last year (AC
Nielsen MMS figures) but it was only launched in November.
At the time of launch, Virgin said it would pump pounds 20 million into
marketing the brand - the biggest spend behind any Virgin launch so
Media used: According to AC Nielsen MMS, 43 per cent of Virgin Mobile’s
spend last year went on TV, 26 per cent on press, 23 per cent on outdoor
and 6 per cent on radio. MGM likes to use the brand’s smaller budget to
do some cheeky guerrilla marketing.
It used a poster site next to Orange’s flagship Oxford Street store to
run an ad parodying Orange’s orang utan ads. It also took a swipe at
Vodafone - which is set to sponsor Manchester United - with a poster on
Sir Matt Busby Way which read, ’V posh’.
Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R’s TV campaign mocks rival phone
networks for aping the Virgin model.