Consumer Products & Services

Virgin Mobile USA

Unveiling a bold wireless upstart with Virgin flair

 

Before the ubiquity of apps, smartphones and animal emoji, Sir Richard Branson burst onto the U.S. wireless scene. Virgin Mobile was ready to become the antidote to the status quo of highly restrictive and consumer-unfriendly contract plans – as well as revolutionize the field of prepaid wireless. To debut successfully, we had to convince consumers and the market that Pay-to-Go was the bold (and best) new way to go.

Launching a consumer champion

CooperKatz launched Virgin Mobile USA stateside in 2002 and provided the brand’s public relations support as agency of record for six years.

 

The wildly successful introduction included a one-two punch of business and consumer outreach. On the business side, CooperKatz reached top-tier media, telecom / wireless trades and industry influencers to make the business case for Pay-As-You-Go, while providing well-orchestrated access to top U.S. executives – along with Branson himself.

 

For the consumers, we leveraged the brand’s marketing theme – “Nothing to Hide” (read: no contracts to sign and no hidden fees) – by deploying the cast of the Broadway hit “The Full Monty” to perform its signature striptease number in front of the former Virgin MegaStore in Times Square. To top off the performance as only he could, Branson was lowered by crane from the roof, on a giant cell phone, while doing his own striptease clad only in “handset briefs.”

 

The combination of a “cheeky” spectacle and a “hard news” announcement drove major consumer and business coverage, including several CNBC spots, “FOX & Friends,” numerous major market newspapers (e.g., Los Angeles Times and Boston Globe) and more than 100 local television broadcasts.

 

Over six years of partnership, CooperKatz announced new products and service offerings; extended advertising campaigns and promotions; supported sponsorships and cause-related campaigns; staffed onsite media events including Virgin Mobile Free Fest music festival; promoted responsible cell phone use; got deep in wireless technology; and addressed sensitive marketplace issues.

 

These award-winning PR activities generated tens of millions of impressions, as well as scoring regular ink across business, trade and consumer press. And our team learned to text faster than a duel draw, a skill that still comes in handy today.


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