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Virgin Mobile Jason Donovan

Award: Yellow Pencil

Yellow Pencil / Integrated / Integrated Advertising / 2006

The campaign's aim was to reinforce Virgin Mobile's popularity amongst young adults and maintain visibility for Virgin Mobile's call and text rates in light of little new product news. The idea was developed from a simple observation that Virgin Mobile's rates are so low that they are open to abuse. Given half a chance, people will use their mobiles in an irresponsible manner just because it is cheap, even when explicitly requested not to. Virgin Mobile leaked a contrived photo with Jason Donovan's mobile number clearly visible onto the Internet. Mr Donovan, a high-profile Virgin Mobile customer, is subsequently inundated with calls and texts. Virgin Mobile responded with a pseudo damage limitation campaign including a press release, letter to staff, newspaper ads and store posters. Calls increased and Sir Richard Branson made an official radio statement. Finally, TV and cinema ads showing voyeuristic footage of a distressed Mr Donovan were launched, discouraging people from calling and texting 0403JASOND. This was further supported by advertising on taxi backs, store posters, staff uniforms, sandwich boards and flyovers at major events asking people to 'Please enjoy Virgin Mobile's low rates responsibly'. Prior to any advertising a conservative estimate of 1 million people saw the leaked photo online. Media coverage in press and radio is estimated to have generated over 2 million exposures. Viral activity generated over 11,000 calls and texts in three weeks. Once the campaign released over 60,000 people visited www.responsiblemobileuse.com.au and 680,000 calls and texts were made to 0403JASOND. This represents approximately 30% of the 16 to 24 year old target market.

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