Virgin Mobile’s Star Factory

Two pretty strangers get handed their own Web reality series

Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, wants more celebrities attached to Virgin Mobile. But rather than dealing with the hassle of  wrangling stars, he wants to create them. Enter “Sparah,” a mashup of Spencer and Sarah, two strangers lucky and pretty enough to be handed their own Web reality series.

Incredibly, Virgin must think the existing bumper crop of celebrity darlings/train wrecks isn’t enough to sate the ravenous appetites of star-starved smartphone users who are, Branson is betting, using their mobiles to devour the latest gossip. It’s part advertising, part branded entertainment and fully contrived, says Ron Faris, Virgin Mobile’s U.S. director of brand marketing. The muse? Brangelina, natch.