Virgin Mobile targets T-Mobile with new smartphone advertising campaign

Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) Virgin Mobile prepaid brand is leveraging AT&T's (NYSE:T) proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA with a new advertising campaign targeting T-Mobile and aimed at value-conscious Android smartphone users.

Click here for Sprint's latest Virgin Mobile TV commerical targeting T-Mobile.

Click here to watch Virgin Mobile's TV commercial targeting T-Mobile.

The new campaign, launching today with a TV spot, is the latest salvo in a back-and-forth that has been building for months between Sprint and T-Mobile over attracting consumers. T-Mobile tweaked its unlimited smartphone pricing in July in a move widely seen as an attempt to target Sprint's unlimited data plans.

Virgin Mobile's new TV ad features a fictional celebrity couple that has been a part of Virgin's marketing campaign since May. In the ad, the couple enters a film set and points out the depressing décor. An actress resembling T-Mobile's spokeswoman agrees that it's depressing and adds, "And imagine us being taken over by AT&T, who's last in customer satisfaction." The ad then pivots to a pitch about Virgin's $35 per month Beyond Talk plan for customers who want a Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android smartphone.

The ad campaign will feature two TV spots and Virgin said the the national commercials will run on cable and network television through the middle of September. Virgin Mobile's campaign also includes cinema, national print, digital, Web and point of sale materials. The ad campaign also coincides with Virgin's launch of the Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) Triumph, the brand's first Motorola Android device. Virgin also offers Android devices from LG and Samsung.

"Virgin's new ad proves that our successful Monthly4G no annual contract plans are putting pressure on their business," T-Mobile spokeswoman Hernan Daguerre said in a statement to FierceWireless. "And this is because consumers looking for a great prepaid rate plan also want cutting-edge devices on a nationwide 4G network, which is exactly what they get from T-Mobile. It's flattering to see their marketing efforts center around our advertising properties, but consumers will see right through their gimmicks."

T-Mobile lost 50,000 net subscribers in the second quarter, though it fared better in the prepaid market. The company lost 281,00 net postpaid subscribers in the quarter, and gained 231,000 prepaid subscribers, which included MVNO customers. 

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Article updated Aug. 9 with comment from T-Mobile.