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Virgin Mobile Australia (VMA) is a mobile phone company based in Sydney, Australia. They sell through over 3500 retail outlets, including Allphones and Telechoice, as well as their own retail stores in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, as well as via telesales and web-based stores. VMA offers prepaid (including a discount online-only service, Bean Counter), standard monthly plans and CAP plans.

History

VMA was founded in October, 2000, as a 50/50 business partnership between Virgin Mobile UK and Optus. VMA were Australia's first Mobile Virtual Network Operator. In this case the arrangement was to use the Optus network infrastructure but with Virgin management of all aspects of the customer experience including branding of products, customer service and billing.

In 2002 Virgin Mobile UK increased its shareholding to 74.15 per cent. after Optus refused to inject more cash into the operations. Optus was reported to have lost $AU116 million from the operation since the joint venture began.

At the end of 2005 Virgin mobile had over 300,000 customers.

In January 2006 Optus bought all other shares in the business, and VMA became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Optus. A long-term licensing agreement is now in place for the business to continue trading under the Virgin brand.

In April 2006 VMA were merged with SIMplus, another Optus subsidiary. The new entity, still trading as Virgin Mobile Australia, now claims a customer base of over half a million customers.

Products

Prepaid mobile phones, post paid mobile phones including CAP plans and Phone On Us plans.

Their online-only prepaid product, Bean Counter has won Australian Money Magazine 2007 Best of the Best Gold Medal for Low-User plans.

These products include all modern telecommunications features such as mobile phone calls, SMS, Multimedia Messaging Service, voicemail, international calls, global roaming, ringtones and java games.

In April 2007, VMA launched its 3G service including mobile web browsing, email and data services.

In August 2007, Virgin Mobile launched the Virgin Broadband product, offering a fixed phone equivalent and broadband via a modem using the Optus 3G network.

Advertising campaigns

Since its inception, VMA has been associated with several innovative and award-winning advertising campaigns, as perhaps expected for a company connected to a very strong international brand.

* Warren Campaign This campaign created a character known as Warren, a 'lovable loser' type of lonely bachelor who was looking for love. TV advertisements encouraged customers and others to text Warren, and they were sent an automated response in the appropriate style. VMA is reported to have received tens of thousands of texts, as well as many genuine requests from the unsuspecting public to meet or contact Warren. This campaign won Lions Direct Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival 2004, plus top awards from ADMA, AWARD and AdNews.


* 5c Campaign This campaign introduced a character known as 5c, a rapper of small but rotund proportions, who by his name was clearly a parody of rap artist 50 cent. This campaign won the Titanium Lion award at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival 2005.


* Enjoy Our Rates Responsibly Campaign This campaign utilised the celebrity Jason Donovan in a geurrila marketing style campaign. It began with deliberately planted internet pictures of Jason supposedly trying to sell his 4WD, with a sign on it clearly showing his personal mobile phone number. The campaign centered on the phrase 'Do Not Text Jason D on 0403xxxxxx', as well as the theme of 'enjoy text responsibly', with of course the exact opposite intention. It won several awards including the Lions Direct - Gold at the 2006 Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.

Flickr advertising issue

VMA's latest national advertising campaign - 'Are You With Us Or What?' - has used images from Yahoo's popular image sharing site, Flickr, without the consent of the subjects, resulting in media speculation about the possibility of legal conflict. The uploader's did give permission for the use of the photo by assigning the Creative Commons license to the photos. One of the uploaders, Molly Herzschlag, stated on her weblog that, "What they (Virgin Mobile) failed to do was get permission from the people in the photos ... Not sure what the next step will be legal-wise, if any, but I'm looking into it ... This is not the kind of famous I had in mind."

Corporate sponsorships

VMA were the major sponsor of the inaugural Australian V festival - a major music festival held in Sydney, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.

As part of their commitment to corporate responsibility, VMA also continue to sponsor local community aid organisations Stretch-a-family and South Sydney Youth Services.

(Credit: Wikipedia).

 

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