Planning Included in Virgin Mobile Review, Incumbent Will Defend

NEW YORK Virgin Mobile USA incumbent Leagas Delaney is defending the estimated $50 million account, the client confirmed. In a statement, Howard Handler, chief marketing officer of Virgin Mobile USA, confirmed that the telco is reviewing the creative and media planning portions of its business.

“As part of an advertising agency review process, Virgin Mobile USA is evaluating a select number of potential partners – including our current agency of record, Leagas Delaney,” Handler said. “Leagas has done solid work for us, and has played an important role in generating the significant marketplace traction we’ve achieved to date. Ultimately, Virgin Mobile USA is looking for the agency partner that can best help us achieve a very aggressive set of business and communications goals for the year ahead.”

Sources said at least four agencies are competing for the account.

The review, which began a few weeks ago, is being handled by New York-based consultancy Gilbert Taney Farlie.

Leagas Delaney in San Francisco has handled the account since November 2001, when they won the assignment to create a campaign for the service launch after a review. The San Francisco-based client is looking specifically for an East Coast shop, sources said because new USA CEO Dan Schulman, who joined the company late last year, is based in the company’s Warren, N.J., office.

Sources said he wants an agency within easy travel distance. The U.K.-based company is a partnership between Sprint and Richard Branson.

Agencies are making presentations to the client next week, sources said.

Virgin Mobile spent $8 million in media in the last five months of 2002, per CMR. Sources said the company is gearing up for a substantial push to capture market share among youth in the wireless category.

Palisades Media Group in Santa Monica, Calif., won media-buying duties on the account in November 2002 after a review. Media buying is unaffected by the current process.