Thurman to front £20m Virgin Media campaign

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The Independent Online

The Hollywood actress Uma Thurman will lead NTL's campaign to rebrand itself as Virgin Media. The Pulp Fiction star is to be at the forefront of a £20m advertising campaign expected to hit television screens next month telling consumers about the name change at the company and that it now offers mobile phones and broadband as well as fixed line telephones and television.

NTL merged with Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Mobile last year in a £961m deal which created the UK's first "quadruple play" media company. Under the deal, Sir Richard swapped his controlling 72 per cent stake in the mobile group for a 14 per cent stake in the combined entity, which is listed across the Atlantic on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

James Kydd, managing director of Virgin Media marketing, said: "We are thrilled that Uma will be helping us launch the most exciting and the biggest Virgin branded company in the world."

Virgin is no stranger to using stars in its marketing campaigns. The supermodel Kate Moss featured in a recent Virgin Mobile TV advertisement. The company will be hoping that Thurman can reverse NTL's reputation for poor customer service.

The merger of NTL and Virgin Mobile created a "quadruple play" media group offering television, fixed line telephone, broadband internet and mobile phones. It has around nine million customers in total, and is focused on taking full advantage of the Virgin brand.

Prior to that, NTL was created by the combination of the cable companies NTL and Telewest. The two spent their short histories fiercely competing against one another before deciding to merge. At the end of last year NTL made an audacious £4.7bn bid for the commercial broadcaster ITV. Its offer was blocked when Sir Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB emerged with a near 18 per cent stake in ITV.