Sponsorship Blog

What Will Sprint’s Purchase of Virgin Mobile Mean for Sponsorship?

By Jim Andrews Jul 29, 2009

It will be interesting to see what Sprint Nextel does once it completes its just-announced acquisition of Virgin Mobile USA. The purchase gives the company two prepaid wireless brands: Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile, which it already owned.

Both brands have been active and inventive sponsors (IEG Sponsorship Report subscribers can read our article on the prepaid category here, so I hope that combining forces will bring more spending, additional innovative programs and continued creative excellence in activation. But of course there are no guarantees.

Virgin Mobile’s conversion of its ticketed Virgin Mobile Festival to the free Virgin Mobile FreeFest, which was announced last month, was a brilliant stroke. It recognizes the impact of the recession on consumers and also rewarded Virgin Mobile customers by giving them first shot at the free ducats for the August 30 music event.

The festival also has a cause overlay that solicits donations for homeless youth agencies, and Virgin Mobile will host a VIP seating area for those who donate their time to community service at designated homeless youth shelters around the country.

That last element is reminiscent of my favorite Boost Mobile sponsorship, the Boost Mobile RockCorps, which ended last year. The brand sponsored West Hollywood, Calif.-based RockCorps, which pioneered the concept of rewarding youth who volunteer in their communities with concert tickets.

Sprint’s plans are to put both brands under the same leadership; it’s unclear whether both brands will retain their identities going forward or be merged into one. Regardless, the acquisition could spark competitive activity and cause other prepaids, such as MetroPCS, Cricket and Leap, to increase their sponsorship spending.



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Jim Andrews

About the Author

Jim Andrews is senior vice president, marketing of IEG and ESP Properties. An industry veteran, he can remember tracking the industry on index cards and typesetting the early editions of IEG Sponsorship Report. Nevertheless, he has embraced the enhanced communication with the industry offered by social media and enjoys sharing his experienced views on issues of topical interest through his blog posts and commentary. Follow Jim on Twitter!



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