Thursday, 08 August 2013 13:32

Virgin Mobile renews its appeal: irresistible?

Virgin Mobile's new logo, new plans and more Virgin Mobile's new logo, new plans and more

Virgin Mobile, a company owned by Optus but which licenses the Virgin brand and ties closely into deals with other Virgin companies, has launched a re-branding in Australia, going beyond Doug Pitt with what it hopes is a new level of irresistibility.

Virgin Mobile turned heads in 2012 with a dramatically effective, noticeable and memorable marketing campaign with the brother-in-law of Angelina Jolie: Doug Pitt.

That campaign played on Doug Pitt being a great guy but not getting anywhere near the attention his brother Brad receives, with the allusion presumably being that Virgin Mobile is a great mobile company that wasn’t getting as much attention as its bigger competitors.

Virgin Mobile has also long offered special deals to its customers, working to be “more than a mobile company”, with deals on entertainment and initiatives like sponsoring “Splendour in the Grass”, which was streamed free to anyone online through YouTube – not just Virgin Mobile customers.

So, with a heritage of value added deals and tie-ins to other Virgin companies, it probably comes as no surprise to see that Virgin Mobile’s new rebranding has many of the same value-add elements, while copying moves by AT&T, T-Mobile and others in the US telco market to let some customers upgrade their phones to new models each year.

David Scribner, Australia’s head of Virgin Mobile, introduced the re-branding at an event in Sydney today, (parts of which were pre-covered a little earlier today by iTWire colleague David Swan), talking up the positive effects of the Doug Pitt marketing campaign and the various silver and bronze awards that campaign won at Cannes.

Mr Scribner proudly boasted of the increases in the company’s “net promoter” score, the only one of the top 4 mobile telcos to have a “positive net promoter score”, complaint levels which have “come down significantly”, increased resources in web chat, social media and the call centre, all of which (and more) positions Virgin Mobile as a “credible alternative to the other top 3” mobile telcos.

He also described a “paradigm shift”, focusing on a “customer experience brand”, “retention”, “value”, being “more than mobile” and taking advantage of the rest of the “Virgin family” of companies – making Virgin Mobile a “customer first” company.  

Mr Scribner also stated that Virgin Mobile now wants to be the “most loved and irresistible mobile brand in Australia”, stating that it was an aspirational goal, but one that was attainable.

He also noted that “remarkable” was a key word for the company – “will people remark on” Virgin’s new initiatives, also unveiling a new logo, which is a variation on the old one.

Naturally, the re-branding stretches across all of Virgin Mobile’s properties – its website, storefronts, its magazine and website, with a renewed “My Account” page that will also become an app for iOS and Android devices by the end of the month.

Also arriving in the same timeframe are SMS alerts, to let you know levels of voice and data usage.

Derek Cummins, Virgin Mobile’s “Director of Proposition and Strategy” then got up to speak about the new mobile plans, including the headline, flagship plan dubbed “irresistible”.

For AUD $140 per month on a two year contract, you get to choose from one of the top new phones, unlimited national calls and text, 6GB of data on the Optus 2G, 3G and 4G networks, $200 of international calls, alongside a free return flight to either Fiji, NZ or Vanuatu, departing from most Australian capital cities.

This plan costs $100 per month more than the pre-paid offering from Boost, which has the same unlimited calls and text in Australia, but offers no included international calls, only 3GB of data, no included new smartphone, no access to 4G and certainly no return flights.

For those wanting a “free” flight, however, along with an included new phone, and access to Virgin Mobile’s various other benefits, it certainly competes with the top level plans from Australia’s major telcos, and will undoubtedly be a tempting deal for some – while others pocket the $100 monthly saving from someone like Boost to buy their own phone and their own flights.

Like AT&T in the US, Virgin Mobile in Australia is also allowing its customers to upgrade to a brand new top-end handset each year, and while this will require you to re-sign up for a new 24 month contract, each new contract signing also comes with a free flight, meaning you can get a free flight to one of the three destinations and a new phone each year – as long as you pay $140 per month.

The yearly phone upgrade and free flight offer is only available with this top-level plan, however, Virgin Mobile’s other lesser plans aren’t as nicely endowed, although Virgin Mobile promises they are competitive.

You can also get a $10 monthly discount on these plans if you bring your own phone, and a $35 credit is on offer for each friend and family member you bring to the Virgin Mobile stable.

Listed over at the “benefits” section of Virgin Mobile’s site, we see items such as:

- Unlimited calls & text Virgin 2 Virgin within Oz
- The ability to rollover unused credit to the next month
- Free Voicemail in Oz
- Great coverage on the Optus network
- International calls & text included on all Postpaid mobile plans
- Friends with benefits

Here’s Virgin Mobile’s new video:

So, whether Virgin Mobile’s new branding, plans and offers are enough to pop your cherry is something you’ll have to experience for yourself, but it certainly is good to see fierce competition emerging from one of the world’s most saturated markets: mobile!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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