The promotions are tied to Friday's announcement of a candy bar-style phone with Bluetooth technology, a first for the carrier, with a VGA camera built in. The phone becomes available mid-September for $59.99. It's an upgrade from the original handset introduced last year.
Virgin Mobile plans to feature the Super Slice in the September/October issue of Life & Style in the "Text & Win" contest. Three winners will receive a Super Slice, as well as $40 of airtime. The October issue of Blender features the gadget in the "SuperFan" giveaway--in which six winners will get one of the new cellular phones, for example. And for those who don't win in either contest, there always the promotion on WomansDay.com on the "30 Days of Giveaways" page, where two winners will receive a Super Slice and $40 of airtime.
Aside from contests and giveaways through a variety of publications, the marketing strategy entails ads in retail outlets, strong presence on the Virgin Mobile Web site, and tech reviews. Consumers also can expect the carrier to release a limited-edition Super Slice cellular phone in a variety of fun colors this holiday season, but company executives declined to spill the details.
The Super Slice, made by UTStarcom, comes with pre-loaded video games. It's powered by a Lithium Ion battery with up to 270 minutes of continuous talk time, 4.5 hours, and stand-by time of 230 hours. Weighing in at 2.5 ounces, the standard business card-size phone measures 0.4 inches deep, 4.4 inches high and 1.9 inches wide.
Best of all, Super Slice consumers can take advantage of Virgin Mobile's Sugar Mama promotion that lets users earn one free minute of talk time for every minute they spend watching an ad. The company estimates that more than 1,000 new customers sign up daily, earning nine million free airtime minutes since the program's inception one year ago.
SMS technology gives advertisers a two-way platform to communicate with Virgin Mobile's 4.8 million users. "The program rocks," says Scott Kelliher, director of mobile advertising at Virgin Mobile. "It's an exchange of SMS messages between the advertiser and the user."
The Sugar Mama program lets Virgin Mobile customers test advertising messages through their prepaid phones or online at the Virgin Mobile Web site. The program aims to identify the ads that resonate with consumers enough to make them follow through and buy the product.
Pepsi, Microsoft's Xbox and the American Legacy Foundation's national youth smoking prevention campaign, "truth," have participated in the Sugar Mama program since launch.
New partners are Sony BMG Entertainment's Jive Records, Levi Strauss Signature, New Balance, Nintendo, Rimmel cosmetics, Showtime Networks, Columbia Tri-Star's Sony Pictures, Sony PlayStation, Subway, Sunsilk and the U.S. Navy.