The mantra in most marketing is: "Show. Don't tell." Virgin Mobile USA takes that to the extreme in promoting its unlimited wireless plans, using the visual of people removing their mouths to continue chatting on cell phones while they do other tasks.
"The message is, you can keep talking however long you want with our totally unlimited talking plans," Joel Kades, vice president of acquisition marketing at Virgin Mobile USA, tells Marketing Daily.
The television commercials, from agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty, broke earlier this week. In the first ad, the camera focuses on a young man sitting in a woman's boutique as his presumed girlfriend chats on the phone behind him. Before she goes into the dressing room, the woman puts her phone and her mouth -- which comes off of her face -- next to her boyfriend as she continues her conversation (about a subject -- her "cute" boss, "Big Steve" -- that might have been conducted out of earshot of her companion).
Other commercials in the pool include a woman talking in a locker room as another woman looks on, and a woman who picks up her phone (and chatting mouth) after getting out of the swimming pool. All of the spots promote the company's unlimited calling plan and the LG Rumor2. The commercials, two of which have been translated into Spanish, will air on national cable networks.
Virgin will also promote the plan through an extensive online campaign, developed by agency Arnold, that uses the mouth as a unifying visual device, and an online contest to find "the sexiest mouth in America" beginning later this month, Kades says.
The company's sweet spot target is consumers ages 18-34, with a female skew, Kades says -- noting that women tend to be heavy texters. But the humor and tenor of the commercials is decidedly more male-oriented, says Stephanie Holland, author of the marketing to women blog She-conomy.
"It's definitely guy humor," Holland says. "And [the focus of the first spot] is all about the guy. It's not about the girl."