Virgin Mobile Deals Wild Card For Holiday Effort

Virgin Mobile dealt consumers a Wild Card Friday with the Kyocera Wireless cell phone that turns the speakers into a jukebox. Marketing and advertising efforts for the gadget begin this month.

Television ads are scheduled to debut Wednesday on Comedy Central, MTV, and VH1. Both emphasize cell phone plans without annual subscriptions. "The message is, we've got this hot new phone, Wild Card, for texting and entertainment," says Howard Handler, CMO at Virgin Mobile USA. "This is our showcase effort for the holiday."

Print ads begin running in numerous publications next month. Banners and buttons on Virgin Mobile's web site will show off the Wild Card, Handler says.

The Wild Card phone, weighing in at four ounces, doubles as a music player. It includes access to Virgin's online music store and media service, and for 25 cents per song consumers can hear any tune available. Games are available, too, such as Block Breaker Deluxe, Pac-Man and Tetris.

The phone has two color screens, one on the front and one inside over a full keyboard for messaging. The sideways clam-shell design makes it easy for gamers to play. Features also include Bluetooth, 1.3-megapixel camera with 3x digital zoom, and speakerphone. Wild Card costs $100.



The $20-per-month service fee gives customers unlimited text, e-mail and picture messaging. The special promotion lets consumers buy a Wild Card and messaging pack, and get the second month free with activation.

Aside from the messaging pack to keep both phone and carrier top of mind with consumers, Virgin Mobile offers add-on services "Contact Vault" and "Headliner."

Contact Vault allows Wild Card holders to store, retrieve, delete and transfer personal contacts to safeguard the list in the event their phone gets lost, stolen, damaged or upgraded. Customers input up to six phone numbers per contact in the address book and store up to 140 contacts total. The Contact Vault costs $2 per month, or $10 for a six-month subscription.

Headliner, Virgin Mobile's mobile music magazine subscription service on the phone for $2.49 monthly, offers concert tour updates, music news, artist information like biographies and discographies, music charts and celebrity tidbits.

Music and entertainment have played major roles for the Virgin Group of companies since the launch of Virgin Records in the 1970s. Some rock stars in the 40 bands that played at the Virgin Festival in August at Pimlico horserace course in Baltimore got an early look at the phones.

Wild Card by Kyocera Wireless will begin selling on on Wednesday. Best Buy, Radio Shack, Target and Wal-Mart began selling the phone earlier this month.

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