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Virgin pulls competition on b3ta website

Marketing idea backfires badly on Bransonites

Bobby Pickering, vnunet.com 30 Oct 2006
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Virgin has pulled a competition running on a UK website aimed at creative geeks, despite being warned of the response it was likely to generate. 

The irreverent b3ta.com offers a newsletter, bulletin board and galleries for what it terms "the best stuff on the internet". It features a range of animated gifs, Flash files and doctored images that revel in adolescent humour. 

B3ta was founded by Rob Manuel, Denise Wilton and Cal Henderson, who specialise in designing online creatives for viral marketing campaigns, many incorporating an element of offensiveness to maximise impact.

Recent 'songs' performed and animated by Manuel include She's In a Wheelchair (But I Don't Care Cos She's a Babe), Kill Your Parents and B-B-B-Birmingham Pow!.

Manuel is also a member of TomBoy Virals, which recently created a TV ad for Virgin Trains that features the "biggest cock I've ever seen", according to a voiceover on the soundtrack. 

Virgin's association with the group led to a competition on the b3ta site that called for creative responses to the concept 'What would happen if you said Yes to everything?'.

Virgin was not pleased with some of the results, however, including an image of Richard Branson relieving himself over a man dressed in a baby outfit. WARNING - not for the squeamish. 

The furore has not dampened Manuel's spirits. Under the heading 'Virgin on the ridiculous', he posts: "Yep, they pulled the challenge; yep, they were told before they opened it exactly how it would play out; yep, they asked us to delete it; and yep, I think the whole thing is funny." 

Whether Virgin's clever marketing types will be equally amused at this exposé of their web-savviness is another matter.


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