Virgin Mobile USA keeps 5 on the line in $90 mil review

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Virgin Mobile USA, San Francisco, narrowed the contenders to five in the search for a first agency of record on its $50 million to $90 million account. The list, pared from 10, now consists of San Francisco shops Black Rocket, Leagas Delaney, Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide, Odiorne Wilde Narraway & Partners and TBWA/Chiat/Day. The final selection will be made by mid-November, said Rob Gray, director of marketing for Virgin Mobile USA. The brief calls for agencies to demonstrate brand-building and marketing prowess targeting 18-to-34-year-olds. "We want to take the latent brand awareness of Virgin [in the U.S.] and drive awareness of Virgin wireless," Mr. Gray said. The Virgin brand has 40% aided awareness in the U.S., Mr. Gray said, adding that the challenge is to extend it to the wireless services category. Virgin will partner with wireless handset marketers such as Ericsson, Nokia and others, which will produce the phones, to create Virgin-branded services. The service will launch initially in two to three cities early next year, with a national rollout by the fourth quarter.

Copyright October 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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