Virgin Mobile likes to navigate the boundaries between saucy and plain naughty in advertising its services in the US but yesterday the company was on the retreat from a campaign that urged customers to strip in front of their cameras and post the results on YouTube.
For every video submitted to a special website – Strip2Clothe.com – Virgin would donate a piece of clothing to groups helping homeless youths. "You take off yours, we donate ours," the site cheerily pledged. But it quickly became clear that the kind of attention it was getting was perhaps not the best.
Charitable organisations and church groups berated Virgin Mobile for encouraging lewdness. The campaign, said the Catholic Charities of St Paul and Minneapolis, was "distasteful, inappropriate and exploitative". Another group, the National Network for Youth, removed itself as an official partner of the project.
By yesterday, the word "Strip" had been excised, all the previously shared disrobing videos were gone and the campaign renamed "Blank2Clothe". Now customers need only send in clips of them doing anything unusual to ensure clothing donations – just not undressing.
Virgin says that the campaign has proved its worth with 15,000 items of clothing already distributed to young homeless Americans in just a week. (And, of course, generating a good deal of free advertising.)Reuse content