Virgin Active appoints MBP

Health chain Virgin Active has appointed Marcus Brewster Publicity to handle PR and media relations in South Africa.

The account will be handled by chief operating officer Galia Kerbel until the arrival in July of new account manager appointee Jeanine Coetzee, who will lead a team of three others.

Virgin Active's general manager for Marketing, Tim Carter, said the appointment was in line with the gym group's intention to dominate the public mindspace when it came to exercise, wellness, training and fitness.

'To achieve brand dominance, we needed ability, creativity and strategy, particularly as we have high profile projects that Virgin Active will align with this year, including reality series like Project Fame and The Block, the SuperSport Charity Challenge and the ongoing Toyota Quest.'

Marcus Brewster, managing director of MBP, said: 'Strategy will revolve around member retention as the business model of Virgin Active is geared to monthly subscription fees rather than once-off contracts. To this end, Virgin Active has commissioned market mapping research showing the profiles of existing gym members to enable us to target them most effectively.

'Apart from mining publicity value out of scheduled marketing promotions, we will also create a focus group of media in which the Virgin Active brand must always enjoy an editorial presence.'

MBP won the account in a three-way pitch against Total Media and Lange PR. Virgin Active's prior PR affiliate, ArCay Communications, was not asked to re-pitch.

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