Virgin Embraces Long Haymes

Conn. Beverage Client Looks South for Creative Infusion
BOSTON–In the midst of retooling its marketing approach, Virgin Drinks USA has moved national creative chores to Long Haymes Carr from Ground Zero and has ended its relationship with KSL Media.
Long Haymes, Winston-Salem, N.C., prevailed in a review over Avrett, Free & Ginsberg, Mad Dogs & Englishmen and CMG Communications, all in New York, said Sheryl Fischer, vice president of marketing for the Wilton, Conn., client.
Fischer declined to discuss budget figures, though annual spending is believed to be in the mid- to low-seven figures. Competitive Media Reporting cites no spending last year after $2 million in 1998, but a significant portion of the budget goes to sponsorships and promotions, a category in which Long Haymes has excelled for its R.J. Reynolds and Nabisco packaged goods clients.
KSL, Los Angeles, is no longer handling media buying, Fischer said, and no decision has been made about that portion of the account.
Long Haymes was hired to expand the scope of marketing to encompass the soft-drink company’s new flavors. “The opportunity here is not in soft drinks, it’s in going in a new direction. What’s happening now is new beverage concepts from new age drinks to electrolites to beverages that haven’t even been invented yet,” said agency chief executive Steve Zades.
Ground Zero, Santa Monica, Calif., helped launch the Virgin Cola flagship in the U.S. in 1998 with edgy advertising that used the tagline “Say something.”
Gaining a foothold proved difficult owing to distribution snafus and tepid consumer re-sponse to both the beverage and its ads. So far, Virgin has failed to make significant inroads against Coca-Cola or Pepsi.
“We have a lot of consumer research to do” before launching a campaign later this year, Fischer said. K