In a first for the Virgin Mobile USA, Sir Richard Branson is featured in a new cross-platform commercial campaign – “Keep Up With Sparah” – that spoofs the public’s obsession with celebrity.
The campaign/pop culture social experiment, bordering on branded entertainment, aims to “rescue young consumers from wireless sameness,” by manufacturing “Sparah” (Spencer + Sarah), the world’s first wireless “It” couple. Sparah will promote Virgin Mobile USA’s unlimited web and data service that starts at $25/month.
Spencer Falls and Sarah Carroll were chosen from thousands who auditioned for the gig. The hope is that customers will follow their viral antics as though they were Brangelina, TomKat – or for the real cognoscenti, Speidi – over the next six months.
Their chemistry captures that elusive elixir…marketing magnetism.
“Sparah” will be set up in the Hollywood Hills, as a stylist and a publicist, with all the trappings (furnished by Virgin) of a real celebrity couple.
“Virgin Mobile likes to give people what they want. And in this spirit, I know they’ll use all of their resources to create a legitimate celebrity couple to ensure their customers never run out of something to tweet about,” says Branson.
“Sparah’s” contract requires they tweet, post, check-in and video blog – on Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, and YouTube respectively.
As their fame spreads, they’ll show up at photo shoots, in TV commercials, and at store openings, where they will endorse products. They will also make appearances at pop culture events like Virgin Mobile’s annual FreeFest music festival.
"It's our way of launching a unique campaign in a world of quality sameness. We wanted to create something that was a little more breakthrough, that could illustrate our Android phones [and talk about] something beyond price and without bashing the competition," said Ron Faris, director of brand marketing for Virgin Mobile USA.
Fans can follow “Sparah” at Sparah.com, which redirects to Virgin Mobile's Facebook page, on the brand's YouTube channel, and via Sarah's Facebook and Twitter and Spencer's Twitter and Facebook.
What do you think? Another example of Virgin stretching its playful and innovative voice, or is the reality show/faux celebrity thing already overplayed? More importantly, do you think Virgin’s little experiment will actually succeed in making these two nobody’s into tabloid stars?