If nothing else, it has to be a lot of fun being associated with businesses owned by Virgin. Behind them all, whether it's Virgin Bingo or Virgin Hotels or another of the myriad Virgin-branded businesses, you can always bank (literally) on the sometimes loony but always shrewd iconic entrepreneur, Richard Branson, Virgin's brander-in-chief. Don't think of them as brand extensions so much as Branson extensions — reflections of the Virgin founder's personality, passions and interests.
You can pretty much depend on Branson's trademark wit and showmanship in the promotion of a Virgin brand. The latest campaign from Virgin Mobile USA is testament to that, going so far as to depict what it must have been like "growing up Branson."
A new TV commercial, at top, traces the development of a young Branson, hilariously depicted with mustache and goatee at every age, as he ponders the future of communications. Ultimately, he answers to "a higher calling," namely, Virgin Mobile.
The campaign is intended to entice a very choosy demographic, 18- to 24-year olds, to switch to a prepaid cellphone offered by Virgin Mobile that runs on the Sprint network.
"We want to change the relationship between people and their cell phone carrier, both by providing them with the monthly services they want at a fair price, and by offering them something entertaining they can't get with any other phone company," stated Ron Faris, brand marketing director for Virgin Mobile USA. "We're holding ourselves to a higher standard to ensure customers get exactly what they need at a great price, like unlimited data and messaging for $35 per month, while also enjoying some fun and perks along the way."
Part of the "fun and perks" is a new website that aims to engage consumers with an eye-popping array of streamed music, videos, news, photos, blogs, contests and all sorts of goodies. The site will be updated daily which, Faris told the New York Times, demonstrates that Virgin Mobile is moving closer to "newsroom marketing. We want to be a voice where pop culture meets technology."
TV commercials are a focal point, but it goes without saying given Branson's social media chops that the campaign will be heavily supported with social marketing. Original content will be published via Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr, with an emphasis on interesting and engaging material, not merely branded advertising. Online media promotion will extend to Buzzfeed, Gawker, Pandora, and YouTube. Faris tells the Times that the campaign will "tap into the Zuckerberg in all of us," referring to Facebook's founder, Mark Zuckerberg.
Separately, Virgin just announced the launch of a new online service in the U.S., Virgin Digital Help, available in the UK since 2009. The personal tech-support service is available to help U.S. consumers for $30 per fix to $15 per month for ongoing service plans on a 24/7 basis.
According to the company, Virgin Digital Help will offer remote assistance over the telephone, through live and automated chat sessions, via email or a combination of these services, to anyone. Virgin Digital Help "Champs" will analyze, diagnose and resolve problems remotely, whether it's related to computers, smartphones, email, viruses, or "anything digital." Just one more example of the all-encompassing reach of the very elastic Virgin brand.
Below, find out more on how Virgin Digital Help works in the UK, including an interview with Branson: