Rough Road for Mullen With Virgin, Mangosoft

Campaigns for two Mullen clients—Virgin Drinks USA and Mangosoft—have stalled. The former cancelled its Fusion Water products, and no creative for the latter will break in the near term.

Virgin CEO Richard Branson pulled the plug on Virgin Drinks USA, quashing the planned launch of its Fusion Water line. Virgin Drinks USA’s employees, however, are vowing to save the company.

Officials with Mullen have denied there have been any employee reductions, but sources said “minor staffing cuts” have quietly been made in recent weeks as workflow has slowed. The shop employs more than 500 people nationwide.

Mullen/LHC, the Winston-Salem, N.C., affiliate of the Wenham, Mass., agency, added Virgin Drinks USA a year ago.

The shop created product packaging, graphics and booth presentations for Fusion’s introduction in December at the International Beverage Show in New Orleans. A multimedia ad push for the product, slated to roll out in coming months, is now in limbo.

The agency is going forward with plans for outdoor and radio ads, hoping that Virgin Drinks USA employees can find new funding to launch the product, said Mullen CEO Joe Grimaldi.

“We need to raise the capital, but we’re optimistic because [Fusion] has great potential,” said Bob O’Brien, CEO of Virgin Drinks USA. The product bowed Feb. 13 and had developed a distributor network in 41 U.S. markets.

Also, Mullen has yet to unveil work for Internet-access software manufacturer Mangosoft. It picked up the assignment last May for a $20-25 million print, Web and direct marketing campaign.

Mullen had begun creative development for Mangosoft, but the client has run into funding problems that sources said are likely to impact the campaign. Mangosoft representative Tom Ricci also said ads are forthcoming, but neither he nor Grimaldi would say when the effort will break.