"The devil makes work for idle thumbs..." - Great Viral Campaign from Virgin Mobile

A company that really tested the possibilities of online branding and viral marketing in 2003 was definitely Virgin Mobile in the UK. To promote things like their 3p text tariff they looked for alternative strategies to complement traditional advertising campaigns (from Brand Republic):
James Kydd, brand director for Virgin Mobile, said: "We are using online viral and buzz marketing as a strategic part of our 'idle thumbs' marketing campaign in order to broaden awareness of our new 3p text tariff -- particularly among the culture-driving, technology-savvy online viral community (...)"
Following a two months rythm Virgin Mobile launched a barrage of viral clips and microsites. They were all very elaborate, brilliantly interwoven with the overall branding strategy and extremely funny !!

The video clips were created by Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe / Y&R, while Digital Marketing Communications (DMC) was responsible for the execution of the viral marketing part of the campaign.

Here is quick overview of what they did:
Really a great case for how to use viral marketing and online branding. But what is the bottom line here ? Did these alternative strategies really make a difference in this highly competitive market ?

Well, according to this Press Release from Virgin the answer is probably yes:
Virgin Mobile enjoys its best ever Q3 - and pips Orange!

05.11.03: Virgin Mobile, Britain’s fastest growing network, today reported its best ever third quarter performance - a record trading period second only to last year’s Christmas quarter. During the summer months of July, August and September 2003, Virgin Mobile added 269,381 net new customers, more than double the growth squeezed out of arch-rival Orange over the same period. The outstanding performance, 16% up on Q3 2002, has lifted Virgin Mobile’s customer numbers by 56% since this time last year to well over three million, with customers at the end of Q3 2003 totalling 3,138,347.

These figures follow the record-breaking achievement set by Virgin Mobile during the first six months of this year, when the company added more net customers than Orange, O2, 3, T-Mobile and Vodafone put together. The company says its 3p text tariff, and other value-focused offerings, is driving growth and customer loyalty.
Of course, I don't know exactly how much of this success can be attributed to the viral marketing activities. But I am pretty sure they didn't hurt... ;-)