Virgin Tries Text Appeal

NEW YORK Virgin Mobile wants to text you up — literally.
The Warren, N.J.-based cellular company last week launched an integrated campaign for its Wild Card phone via Havas’ McKinney.

The work is based around the site, where users can send text messages to characters such as a hot secretary, shirtless plumber or sexy housewife.
There’s a catch: A real person will reply (in the voice of one of the characters), 24 hours a day. Users can have conversations about the site, the phone or any other topic.

Site visitors, after leaving, are served ads for the Wild Card phone. “There’s no overt promotion for the Wild Card on the site, but once they leave they will see ads for it,” said Bob Stohrer, Virgin Mobile’s CMO.
Between 5-10 people work behind the scenes to make the live chats happen. The behind-the-scenes texters, who sometimes include McKinney staffers, use a set of guidelines to govern what they say.

“We created an operators guide for the site. It allows people to choose from certain responses but also allows for improvisation,” said Stohrer.
Each of the seven characters has a short video intro on the site. Several of those clips were cut together to form the two 30-second spots that are running on MTV. (In the 30-second “CowWife,” a cowboy character and a shirtless oiled-up man engage in a mock tug of war while a seductive housewife looks on.)
Banners, running on sites such as and, show images such as a woman biting into a cherry with the legend, “I made this pie for you.”
“It’s in the brand spirit of trying to connect with 18-24 year olds by playing off of the idea of promiscuous text,” said Jonathan Cude, ecd, McKinney. “We are using it to engage the target audience by talking to them in a conversation.”