Virgin Mobile Goes Into Review

NEW YORK Virgin Mobile USA said it has placed its creative and media planning assignments into review.

The client pegged ad spending in excess of $30 million; Virgin Mobile spent $12 million in measured media through the first three quarters of 2006 and $25 million in 2005, per TNS Media Intelligence.

Independent Mother in New York is the incumbent on the work in play.

Publicis Groupe’s StarLink in Chicago handles media buying duties, which are not included in the competition.

The client has hired consultancy the Gilbert Co. to manage the process; Gilbert guided the 2005 move from Publicis’ Fallon to Mother after the New York office of Fallon shut down.

Howard Handler, client CMO, said in a statement, “Mother has played a valued role in developing communications and branding strategies that convey the spirit of Virgin Mobile’s wireless services. Ultimately, Virgin Mobile is looking for an agency partner to best work with us as we move forward.”

Mother said it had declined an invitation to participate in the review, which should be completed by the end of March. Mother in a statement said it was “proud to have contributed to the fantastic growth of the Virgin Mobile business over the last 18 months.”

The agency’s best-known work for the client debuted during December and encouraged consumers to have “a bleepin’ awesome holiday season.”

This story updates an earlier item with the news that Mother will not defend.