CTAM CABLE MARKETING EUROSUMMIT – BARCELONA. Ernie Cormier, acting Chief Commercial Officer, Virgin Media has described the opportunity and challenge surrounding the adoption of the Virgin brand following the merger of NTL and Telewest and subsequent acquisition of Virgin Mobile.
“We were not exactly known for great customer care and here we were looking at taking on one of the most admired brands,” Cormier told delegates at CTAM Europe’s 2007 Cable Marketing Eurosummit in Barcelona. “It is a matter of public record that we had to do a lot of work to get it straight.” Cormier said the process of licensing the brand presented a number of challenges, but the company was able to skip the normal brand audit that would have been required in taking on a new name.
Virgin Enterprises had imposed a number of SLAs (Service Level Agreements) around the licensing that involved a significant upgrade to some of the former NTL’s customer relationship practices before the cablenet was allowed to start working on the brand. “Telewest had some brand work, but very little above the line and NTL had done virtually none. We had not done a lot of work in the first few years of the decade in terms of CRM and brand management,” said Cormier.
One of the issues involved in the rebranding is that despite a significant marketing campaign the consideration factor for Virgin Media was low, although increasing. Members of the public were associating cable TV with the legacy brands of NTL and Telewest rather than the shiny new Virgin Media.
There was also management of the 17,000 employees of the new company that one the one hand were seeing the new Virgin Media livery – complete with new office chairs – while facing potential redundancy as a result of the synergies of the combined company.
“As part of the rebrand effort we said we would not only have to do the work with Richard [Branson], but also the cultural transformation of the company. We spent a lot of money internally explaining what we were going to do,” Cormier told CTAM Europe. “We had to reflect the reality of where we were, two bankrupt companies with challenging service levels.”
As part of the drive to improve customer service a single cable billing system will be in place by December and a company-wide system by the following February