Virgin and O2 at war over music strategy

A war of words has erupted between Virgin Mobile and O2 after Virgin accused its rival of “copying” its music strategy.

O2 announced last month that it would support unsigned bands with an initiative called O2 Undiscovered (MW February 23), but Virgin claims it is a rip-off of its Road to V campaign, which is now in its third year.

Virgin Mobile sponsorship manager Steve Rogan says: “We don’t have a problem with other networks trying to do stuff in the music space, but I would expect them to be innovative and try to differentiate themselves from their competitors. They’ve got more money than us and we just think they should make more of an effort.”

Virgin Mobile also points out that it has been running its V Festival for 11 years, while O2’s Wireless Festival is only in its second year. Virgin says O2 Angels – the name given to helpers on hand at the Wireless Festival – look remarkably similar to its own Virgin Mobile Angels, and Rogan adds: “We’ve got a Virgin Mobile kebab van so are we going to see an O2 hot dog stand?”

But a spokesman for O2 says O2 Undiscovered is a “much richer” proposition than Road to V. “It’s not just a gigging opportunity for a band – it’s a national search to unearth new music talent supported by some of the music industry’s leading figures,” he adds.

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