Dell, Virgin Mobile Launch Grads, Dads Promotions

Dell laptopDell and Virgin Mobile have quietly begun summer marketing programs to attract kids headed out for school break.

Virgin Mobile has tapped into Gadget Grrl's "Dads 'n' Grads" satellite media television tour that kicks off Thursday and runs through June 6. During the tour, Dana Forbes, a Los Angeles-based media personality known as Gadget Grrl who reviews and recommends devices, will visit 19 TV studios hroughout the country.

Corinne Nosal, a Virgin Mobile spokeswoman, says the tour highlights the LG Flare as well as well as the Slash by Samsung, Virgin Mobile USA's newest phone, which was announced Monday. "We will launch an online marketing promotion called 'Slide Into Summer' centered on the Slash," she says, adding that details have not been finalized.

Flare's defining features are an external LCD-screen that lights up for incoming calls and Bluetooth wireless technology. The phone is encased in a black exterior accented by metallic trim. Slash is a slim slider phone that comes equipped with VGA camera and Bluetooth and full messaging capabilities for instant message, text messaging and email. Games such as Gameloft Jukebox and Superscape Demo come preloaded on the handset. Both the Flare and the Slash phones are priced for grads at $29.99 and $79.99, respectively.



Computer maker Dell delivers the message to grads with art. Brooklyn-based artist Mike Ming created two original pieces exclusively for Dell that bring his inspiration of earth, water and pop-culture to computer design. The computers are being marketed through Dell's Web site and direct mail brochures.

Brand Keys President Robert Passikoff says tech companies in general are not known for focusing extravagant marketing and advertising campaigns on graduates, but rather on those who go back to school in September. Still, Dell might find it easier to reach graduates than Virgin Mobile this year, according to a study commissioned by electronics retailer Circuit City.

The study, conducted by independent research firm Decision Analyst of Arlington, Texas, suggests that computers and televisions are among the most popular choices for grads this year. About 2,400 college students responded to the survey. More than half of male and nearly a third of female college students want a tech gift for graduation this year.

The study found that 44.3% chose electronics, such as a computer or TV, as their top graduation gift choice--58% male versus 32% female. Still, 32% chose a vacation trip. Clothing, jewelry, and sports gear trailed with single-digit responses from both males and females, and 1.5% of the respondents reported that they did not want a graduation gift at all. When asked which electronics graduation gift they would most like to receive, 79% chose a computer, 11% chose a cellular phone, and 6% chose PDA. Among survey respondents, 29% put computers and video games at the top of the list for being the most fun gift. The digital camera followed with 20%; the MP3 player at 10%; and high-definition TV (HDTV), at 6%. Still, about two-thirds of respondents preferred to receive a gift card, so they could make their own choice.

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