Virgin: 'You Rule! Oops, Except Not.'


For its new geo-specific campaign "You Rule," meant to push its no-commitment cell phone service, Virgin Mobile made a big oops in the Big Apple, installing neighborhood-specific ads in the wrong neighborhoods.

This wouldn't be a huge issue if not for the fact that some wrongly-placed ads are actually trashing the neighborhoods they've found themselves in.

To note, an unspecified number of Upper West Side posters have been placed on the Upper East Side. And they say really clever things like, "...because up here it's not cool to be tied down and uptight. If you want to live like that, move to Greenwich, or at least across the park."

The campaign was created by McKinney in Durham, North Carolina, but a Virgin spokeswoman is pointing fingers at an outdoor company entrusted with the task of placing the posters in their rightful frames.

McKinney president Jeff Jones notes, "This work was inspired by the truth that most cell phone providers want customers to make a commitment to them, and Virgin Mobile is all about making a commitment to its customers."

Commitments are cool, as long as the ones to whom you confess said commitment don't catch you shit-talking. That's what's called a relationship foul.

The guys in charge of campaign execution - whoever those may be - might want to pull out some gigantic barf bags right about now. Or at least buy flowers for all those tight-assed, tied-down Upper East Siders.

by Angela Natividad    May-31-07   Click to Comment   
Topic: Bad, Brands, Outdoor   

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It's a great idea to customize the ads for the location. But you have to execute it correctly as well. Maybe they got some good PR from it.

Posted by: vail Valley Marketing on June 1, 2007 5:33 PM

hey, angel, your own bias is showing. i saw the "incorrect" ad on the upper east side and assumed it simply meant uptight people lived "across the park," i.e., on the upper west side.
not too far-fetched: try to cut the line at Popover Cafe on a Sunday and see how relaxed everybody is.

Posted by: Dashr18 on June 1, 2007 5:34 PM

Bias? Here on Adrants? Good God, someone put out a press release!

By the way, her name is Angela.

Posted by: Steve Hall on June 1, 2007 7:38 PM

Y'all suckers can make fun of VM and Jayne Wallace all you want, but you gotta admit they do seem to have hit a nerve here - I mean, isn't this the second thread on Brownstoner alone (not to mention the two or three on Curbed)? Is it unfathomable that people like Jayne (no doubt a transplant...) and her well-paid staff foresaw just how provocative these ads would be to New Yorkers? Don't you see how these ads prey on so many of our insecurities - what better way to get our attention than bombard us with the "clumsy" attempts of an "outsider" trying to classify and homogenize us with decidedly dorky little sound bites about where we live. Can't you just see Jayne and her team of amateur taxonomists writing about us on a whiteboard somewhere (reads: somewhere on Madison Avenue): "confrontational", "hubristic", "self-important", "uber-colloquial"Ö Isnít it kind of ironic that whether we've lived here for six weeks or six generations, the only tie that truly binds us all together as New Yorkers is our uncanny willingness to be defined by our own smug sense of micronabe terroir? They might as well have called this campaign "Revenge of the Transplanted Mid-Westerners"...

Whether your notion of "ruling" is stealing one of their neighborhood-appropriate ads off the street and hanging it up on the eggshell-white walls of your freshly-rented railroad apartment or writing even snarkier ad copy than they have, showing those stupid-ass, FOTB Ohio-bred ad people just how much smarter and more authentic you are than them or simply saying how lame / wrong / B&T / offensive / great / unreal bad the campaign is it doesn't really matter. Because either way, as long as you've got an opinion about VM and share it with others, you're doing their bidding for them - see, You Do Rule!

And just remember, donít think for a second that these ad guys' actual job is selling phones and minutes to people with bad credit - they'll leave that to the Haitian and Israeli guys on the front lines. Their job is to get people talking about VM's ad campaign enough that other ad people and, more importantly, other advertisers can't help but take note of the buzz they've created - that's how they get paid...

p.s. - I'm born and bred, I don't work in advertising and I do still live here - and yes, it's taking every ounce of willpower I have not to tell you where...

Posted by: I am not a target market on June 6, 2007 4:32 AM

...under Jayne's bed.

Just kidding. Touche, man. Get down with your bad self.

Posted by: Angela on June 6, 2007 12:35 PM