Virgin Mobile Connects with Consumers at its Own Festival - Event Marketer

Virgin Mobile Connects with Consumers at its Own Festival

Virgin Mobile FreeFest 2010
Agency: MOTHER
Year: 2008

Music is a natural for wireless service provider Virgin Mobile, one of the hundreds of companies formed and eventually sold by flamboyant entrepreneur Richard Branson. And what better place to hold a two-day fest filled with rock music, circus acts and other outrageous performance artists than the 25-acre Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, MD, the quirky hometown of king of quirk John Waters and all things camp, crazy and, of course, crab.

The 2008 event, held Aug. 9 and 10, brought all this to life as more than 60,000 attendees grooved to performances by 40 top musical acts, including Foo Fighters, Jack Johnson, Kanye West, and, yes, Bob Dylan. As if that weren’t enough, a series of “activity domes” provided shade and the chance to “recharge, renew and refresh.” Virgin Mobile partner Kyocera Wireless offered misting zones and chair massages and a recharge bar where attendees could recharge their mobile phones by pedaling on a bike. Kyocera-powered text-to-screen activities also kept attendees engaged. The Dell Summer Rocks Dome served as a self-expressive art studio where concert-goers could customize digital mixed tapes, t-shirts, buttons and temporary tattoos on Dell Studio laptops. CNN was on hand to promote the importance of voting, and Major League Baseball erected a batting cage, pitching cage and other interactive experiences.

“Responsible adults don’t like to be penned up to have a beer,” says Carter Angus, Manager of Events and Sponsorships at Virgin Mobile. “They go to these types of events to enjoy music and be free for a day and relax, and we do our best to bring that experience to life on site. Everything we do from the free backrubs to providing sunscreen to people in need or rain jackets in case it rains, all these surprise and delight moments increase the attendees’ enjoyment of the event. We do it all from an organic perspective, to create a feeling of community. From a brand perspective, we live and breathe music and this is the best way for us to reach our customers and potential customers. They live and breathe music, too.”

And it was all done in an eco-friendly fashion. Toyota sponsored a carpool sweepstakes offering VIP upgrades and providing 10 hybrid vehicles to shuttle attendees from bus stations to the front gate. “Green Angels” monitored waste diversion efforts; plates, cups and utensils were compostable; biodiesel fuels were used and carbon emissions were offset.

Add in 400 million media impressions and a 91 percent consumer recommendation score from attendees.

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