Consolidated Communications was guaranteed coverage in the tabloids
for its client Virgin Mobile when the agency arranged for eight naked
men and women to be photographed on a sofa with Richard Branson.
The Mirror quite rightly described the stunt as ’gratuitous’ and
’titillating’, but went ahead and printed a picture anyway.
As was widely reported, the press conference to launch Virgin’s pounds
100 million mobile business was planned for 11am on Armistice day, and
was only moved forward by 15 minutes when somebody pointed out that the
nation was supposed to be observing two minutes silence just then.
What is less well-known is that Branson’s latest tasteful photo
opportunity was nearly brought to a premature end by the police.
The sight of the Virgin boss sitting on a sofa in a giant transparent
phone-shaped box surrounded by naked people naturally drew a bit of a
crowd, and the police began to worry they might have a civil disturbance
on their hands.
Consolidated’s Will Holt, described by colleagues as a bit of a smooth
operator, was despatched to work his magic on the fretting bobbies. He
pointed out to one of our chequered-hatted friends that the police were
far more likely to cause a civil disturbance by asking Branson’s babes
to put some clothes on.