Brand Barometer - Virgin campaign stalls after Sky attack

As Kill Bill star Uma Thurman fronts the new Virgin Media campaign, Sky goes in for its own kill.

Since NTL and Virgin Mobile joined forces to rebrand as Virgin Media on 14 February, the business has been conducting a media blitz.

Ads have been plastered across public transport, billboards and newspapers, headlined by a television campaign fronted by Hollywood starlet Uma Thurman (or in the case of one of the ads, promoting its unmetered broadband service, several Uma Thurmans).

But it hasn't all been one-way traffic. Even as it was proclaiming its offerings, Virgin Media faced a negative advertising onslaught from Sky, which has attempted to strangle its rebranded competitor at birth.

While Virgin's ads have concentrated on Thurman selling the various parts of its new package - the speed of the broadband connection, television-on-demand and international phone calls at the same rate as domestic calls - Sky has gone in for the kill and garnered a clutch of headlines in the process.

After a row over the fees Virgin pays to broadcast Sky's "basic" channels, Sky stopped broadcasting Sky One to Virgin customers and has started running ads advising Virgin customers that they can catch up with the programmes they are now missing by switching to Sky.

On BrandIndex, Virgin's figures were initially on the up, but its rising buzz rating slumped after the row with Sky broke out, down to -14 from a peak of +21. Since then, all of Virgin Media's ratings have been in decline. From a peak of +11, its quality is down to -3, its recommend score fell from +6 to +2, its value score from +7 to -2 and its corporate reputation from +24 to +10.

So, despite its heavy advertising, Virgin Media seems to be struggling in the first battle of what's likely to be a long war. PR expert Richard Branson must be wondering whether the old adage that "no publicity is bad publicity" is always true after all.


YouGov's BrandIndex is a daily measure of public perception of more than 1,100 consumer brands across 32 sectors, measured on a seven-point profile, with data delivered on the next day.

YouGov interviews 2,000 people each weekday, more than half a million interviews per year.

This means you can spot trends as soon as they happen, not when it's too late. Respondents are drawn from an online panel of more than 130,000.

The score is the net rating: people are asked to identify the brands to which they have a positive response, and then those to which they have a negative response, to whatever is the prompt measure.

The net score is the positive minus the negative.

The seven measures that make the complete profile are below.

Each is taken independently - in any one survey, any individual respondent is asked about only one measure for the sector, not all seven. Therefore, none of the readings influence each other within the survey.

1. Buzz

2. General impression

3. Quality

4. Value

5. Satisfaction

6. Recommend

7. Corporate reputation

In addition, we supply an index score.

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