Virgin Mobile Puts Creative Ad Account in Play

Incumbent Mother Won't Participate in Review

By Published on .

Most Popular
LAS VEGAS (AdAge.com) -- For the second time in two weeks, a major telecom operator has put its advertising account into review.
Virgin Mobile now faces stiff competition from larger wireless service providers that also offer prepaid plans that appeal to younger consumers.
Virgin Mobile now faces stiff competition from larger wireless service providers that also offer prepaid plans that appeal to younger consumers.

Virgin Mobile USA said yesterday it will conduct a review for a creative agency. Though its shop, Mother, New York, "has played a valued role in developing communications and branding strategies that convey the spirit of Virgin Mobile's wireless services," Virgin Mobile spokeswoman Jayne Wallace said, the company will "evaluate a select number of potential partners ... to build aggressively upon our momentum and success."

Mother's statement
Incumbent Mother will not take part in the review. "Mother is proud to have contributed to the fantastic growth of the Virgin Mobile business over the last 18 months, but we will not be participating in the review," the agency said in a statement. "We wish them continued growth and success in the future.

The account is worth about $20 million to $25 million. For the first nine month of 2006, the marketer spent $12 million in measured media and $24 million in 2005, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Virgin Mobile expects a decision by the end of March. The Gilbert Co. is handling the review.

Facing competition
Once the easiest choice for youth who could not qualify for post-paid subscription service, Virgin Mobile, with 4.6 million subscribers, now faces competition from larger wireless carriers, such as AT&T -- formerly Cingular Wireless -- which heavily advertises its own prepaid plans.

Just last week, Sprint put the creative portion of its $1.6 billion ad account into review. Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco, is agency for Sprint business-to-business, while TBWA is agency for consumer advertising.

Other relationships in the $7 billion-plus world of wireless and telecom advertising appear to be on shaky ground this year as AT&T, Verizon and other telecoms begin an earnest battle with cable companies to offer bundled entertainment, wireless, internet and telephone service.

AT&T, which is eliminating the Cingular brand, has hinted it might evaluate agencies in the future. AT&T's agencies are Omnicom Group's GSD&M, austin, Texas, and Rodgers Townsend, St. Louis; Omnicom's BBDO Worldwide is Cingular's shop.