Wireless Marketers Feel the Love in Latest Campaigns

Virgin Mobile, Embarq Build Pushes Around Valentine's Day

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SAN FRANCISCO (Adage.com) -- Wireless companies are trying to pick up some of the marketing riches traditionally bestowed on flower, chocolate and lingerie marketers on Valentine's Day.
Embarq gives new meaning to 'With this ring I thee wed.'
Embarq gives new meaning to 'With this ring I thee wed.'

Virgin Mobile USA, which offers a pre-paid wireless service without a contract, is putting a different spin on the holiday with a promotion celebrating the commitment-free life. In a 1950s-style print campaign, Virgin Mobile graphically (that is, using graphs) describes the upside to being "friends with benefits".

'It's their choice'
Virgin Mobile even conducted a survey that found two-thirds of respondents believe people can love each other and still be uncommitted, though 45% said it's not a good idea to be uncommitted and have sex, while 39% said "good for them; it's their choice."

The survey also found U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was respondents' favorite uncommitted female personality, beating America Ferrera's fictional character Betty Suarez from "Ugly Betty." Indiana Jones was the favorite male not in a committed relationship, followed closely by James Bond. Almost half of the respondents, 43%, named Bill and Hillary Clinton as the couple who "should be uncommitted."

Mother, New York, was the agency behind the print campaign, though the Virgin Mobile account currently is in review.

Phones at the altar
Embarq, meanwhile, is keeping its push more in line with the traditional meaning of Valentine's Day. The phone company, which was recently spun off from Sprint, married a wireless and landline phone in Las Vegas' Little White Wedding Chapel. Bob Eubanks, the well-known host of "The Newlywed Game," conducted the ceremony, which kicks off a new plan that includes unlimited free calls between a consumer's wireless and the home phones.

Embarq, like other wireless carriers including AT&T and Verizon Wireless, provides so-called quad play, a bundled package that includes local and long distance for landlines, internet access and entertainment services in addition to wireless service. Many of the nation's largest cable companies, which have been touting their "triple play" deals for a while, are now starting to add wireless services through a joint venture with Sprint, which is also gearing up for its own quad play.

Embarq's wedding celebrations will include offers of wedding cake in stores in its 18-state territory. Interpublic Group of Cos.' Mullen is Embarq's agency of record.
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