Virgin Mobile Australia
|Type||Subsidiary of Optus|
|Founded||31 October 2000|
|Key people||Sir Richard Branson, co-founder|
|Products||Prepaid and Postpaid Mobile Phones, Broadband|
VMA offers pre-paid SIM cards, as well as post-paid contracted and non-contracted plans for mobile phones. It also offers 3G and 4G portable modems for USB or WiFi use.
VMA was founded in October 2000, as a 50/50 business partnership between Virgin Mobile UK and Optus. VMA was 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 A$116 million from the operation since the joint venture began.
At the end of 2005, VMA claimed 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 was merged with SIMplus and M8, other Optus subsidiaries. The new entity, still trading as Virgin Mobile Australia, now claims a customer base of over 500,000 customers.
In April 2010, shortly after attaining 1 million customers, VMA made big changes by replacing former CEO Peter Bithos with new chief Sue Bailey and appointed Michael Seymour as CFO.
VMA offers pre-paid, monthly and contracted plans for mobile phones. Their online-only prepaid product, Bean Counter has won Australian Money Magazine 2007 Best of the Best Gold Medal for Low-User plans.
In August 2007, Virgin Mobile launched the Virgin Broadband (Australia) service, offering two products: Broadband at Home (a bundle service including a fixed phone equivalent plus broadband), and Mobile Broadband (a portable USB modem). Both products utilise the Optus 3G wireless network.
In August 2008, VMA became the fourth major telco in Australia to begin selling the new Apple iPhone 3G.
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 This campaign was set as a dodgy dating video in which 'lovable loser' Warren was desperately searching for a date - he struggled even though it cost only 5c to text him. He got interest from a male called Richard, which was a fun poke at Virgin founder Richard Branson. This campaign won the Grand Prix Lion award at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival 2004.
- 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 guerrilla 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.
- A Fair Go For All Campaign This campaign saw the introduction of both the 'Fair Go' mobile plans and the quirky character Robin Da Hood, definitely a parody of Robin Hood. Robin Da Hood has several ads on television and has so far been quite effective at drawing attention to Virgin's more relaxed, fun-loving side. This is an on-going advertising campaign and is yet to receive any awards.
- Fair Go Bro This campaign stars Doug Pitt (Brad Pitt's brother) in an attempt to show that you don't have to be famous to be treated like a star by Virgin Mobile. This campaign has received great feedback and done wonders to boost Virgin's brand.
Flickr advertising issue
VMA's 2007 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 uploaders 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."
VMA have been the major sponsor of Splendour in the Grass, an Australian music festival held in Byron Bay, since 2010.
Since the 2013/2014 season, VMA have been a major sponsor of Open Air Cinemas, an outdoor cinema event held in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
- Tanner, Ben (11 January 2006). "Optus acquires 100% of Virgin Mobile Australia". DM Asia. Retrieved 22 August 2007.
- Luna, Lynnette (24 June 2006). "Virgin Mobile Launches in U.S. Despite International Setbacks". Telephony Online. Retrieved 22 August 2007.
- Aus, VirginMobile (April 2010). "Virgin Mobile announces changes to its senior leadership team". Virgin Mobile Australia. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
- Ensquared, Australia (May 2009). "Prepaid Australia Overview and Topology Downunder". Ensquared Holidings LLC. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
- AdNews (October 2012) http://www.adnews.com.au/adnews/doug-pitt-campaign-delivers-virgin-mobile-brand-lift
- "Virgin 'in the wrong' on ads". 23 July 2007. Retrieved 22 July 2007.