Design opportunities as NTL and Virgin Mobile discuss merger

Branding, strategy and design opportunities will emerge if cable operator NTL’s merger bid for Virgin Mobile proves successful, according to Virgin Group brand marketing director Ashley Stockwell.

NTL intends to use the Virgin brand to run across a ‘quadruple play’ of Internet, television and fixed line and mobile telephony services. Stockwell says the companies are planning to ‘put together a design team to rebrand [NTL] as Virgin in the future’, to market these services, with work likely to go out for tender.

Virgin Mobile has previously worked with Start Creative on design projects and also has its own in-house team. ‘We are likely to work with existing designers [from consultancies previously used by Virgin], plus NTL’s existing team, but there will probably be some work that will go out to tender too,’ says Stockwell.

It has not been decided who will lead the marketing and branding strategy should the deal proceed, but Stockwell expects to be ‘actively involved’.

An NTL spokeswoman says a core component of the deal’s rationale is to bring a stronger brand to NTL’s products through Virgin. ‘We don’t spend a great deal on branding and don’t have a big national brand,’ she says.

The company operates cable franchises across the country, but will become the UK’s second largest communications company when it completes the proposed merger with rival cable operator Telewest.

NTL’s initial approach to Virgin Mobile, which valued the company at 323p per share, was rejected by the board last week, although negotiations are ongoing.

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