IPA Effectiveness Awards 2004: Bronze Award - Best New Client (Virgin) - Virgin Mobile Australia


Campaign: Warren

Client: Virgin Mobile Australia

Agency: Host

Principal authors: Olly Taylor, Host; George Monical, Virgin Mobile


Media used: TV, interactive, print, PR, press, outdoor


The strapline for this case reads "Winning big with a loser called Warren", which is a pretty accurate description of the way this case unfolded.

One remarkably unattractive, single and desperate young nerd called Warren helped to propel Virgin Mobile Australia to its highest-ever market placing, acquiring valuable groups of young text messagers, lowering the average age of the user base, reducing churn, increasing usage and attracting new users. Oh, and as for Warren himself, he touched a nerve with young Australians and briefly entered popular youth culture.

But, as in the UK, launching Virgin Mobile into a fast-maturing market was never going to be easy. Two well-established giants, Telstra and Optus, dominated the market, a position they sustained with lavish media spend.

Mobile penetration was at 72 per cent, and was forecast to grow by only 14 per cent over the next five years. Revenue growth was in decline too, the market no longer enjoying the double-digit growth of the early days of mobile telephony.

Virgin's initial foray went well and between 2000 and early 2002, the brand grew rapidly. But by the beginning of 2003 that growth was faltering.

The company decided to focus exclusively on the pre-paid youth sector, and position itself to win the hearts of tribes of young texters.

After spending a total of $2.5 million, the Warren campaign was worth around $9.7 million to the company.

The judges' view

A textbook youth-marketing case study, this paper records how Virgin Mobile focused its targeting to compete more effectively in the Australian mobile phone market. And how a personality led campaign grew both saliency and share extraordinarily quickly.

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