Virgin Mobile Australia: Meal for a Meal

Campaign Summary

Virgin Mobile Australia wanted to leverage the typical mobile behavior of its users to support the philanthropic vision of its founder, Richard Branson with the “Meal for a Meal” campaign. For this campaign, users could post photos of food to social media as they usually did, but for each photo that included the #mealforameal hashtag, Virgin would donate a meal to someone in need.


Objective and Context:

Fourteen years ago, Virgin Mobile consistently led the Australian mobile market in customer sentiment and Net Promoter Score (NPS). However, by 2014, mobile phone penetration was higher than 100 percent, which meant that growth could only be achieved by stealing market share. When smaller and cheaper operators sprung up, Virgin’s NPS began to drop.

Aside from challenging prices, Virgin also wanted to bring to life Richard Branson’s philanthropic vision. Branson believed that “business for good is good business,” and that when businesses gave back to the community, a circular economy was created. Businesses that did this were sustainable, put people first, and were successful as a result.

The campaign’s goal was to deliver 200,000 meals to people in need, make Virgin’s audience feel good about its mobile behavior, and drive brand preference.

Target Audience:

The target audience was mobile-obsessed community influencers. From a business perspective, it made sense to encourage this audience to participate during early adoption because their behavior influenced their social networks. Defining characteristics of this audience:

  • A desire for social responsibility
  • Active on social media
  • 37 percent more likely to donate up to $500 AUD to charity over the last 12 months
  • 42 percent more likely to have been on a social media channel in the last month

Creative Strategy:

Virgin Mobile leveraged the common mobile behavior of “foodsnapping,” or uploading of food-related pictures, to fight hunger in Australia.


Overall Campaign Execution:

More than two million Australians rely on food relief every year. Virgin leveraged the foodsnapping of influencers to create a campaign that would help feed the hungry. For the “Meal for a Meal” campaign, the mobile phone company delivered meals to those in need each time someone posted a photo with the #mealforameal hashtag. The meals were delivered through a partnership with OzHarvest, Australia’s leading food rescue charity, and the goal was to deliver 200,000 meals.

In order to drive numbers, Virgin first needed to connect with consumers while they were foodsnapping, inform them of the OzHarvest partnership, and explain how the campaign worked. Social media, mobile media, online video, TV, and contextual OOH placements were the key ingredients. Time-targeted messages across mobile explained the campaign. In addition, social calls to take action formed an always-on messaging approach. All of the mobile media was complimented by TV, food court tables, and transit media where mobile usage often peaked.

Mobile Execution:

Virgin created a campaign focused on the mobile habits of consumers. It tapped into an existing social behavior and provided consumers with a tangible reward for that behavior. Mobile was the producer of the campaign’s content and it was the platform at the center of the distribution network. Once food had been snapped and shared on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with the hashtag #mealforameal, Virgin Mobile donated a meal to feed someone in need.

Results (including context, evaluation, and market impact)

Virgin Mobile’s #mealforameal campaign strengthened the brand by leveraging the existing social behavior of consumers to give back to society, bringing Virgin’s brand mission of “making mobile better” to life. It also humanized the brand by demonstrating that Virgin supported its customers’ desire to help those in need. This shifted the mobile phone provider from a commodity to a community asset. The public was receptive, which was evident due to the number of meals donated, the number of positive comments received over social media, and increase in the brand’s social followers.

Investment in mobile across message distribution increased by approximately 50 percent during #mealforameal, making Virgin’s total mobile investment for the campaign $468,000.

Categories: | Industries: | Objectives: Mobile Payments, Promotion | Awards: Finalist