By Patrick Avenell

Connecting with its current consumers with opportunistic rewards and attracting new, and importantly, young mobile users to the upstart telco are the two primary objectives of Virgin Mobile's partnership with music festival Splendour in the Grass, which starts tomorrow at Woofordia, 1.5 hours north of Brisbane, in Queensland.

Speaking to at the festival, a Virgin Mobile spokesperson said that music "was in Virgin Mobile's DNA". Interestingly, Virgin Mobile's presence here is not just about forcing the brand onto users of the three main telcos, but on reinforcing its youthful proposition with current customers.

"Partnering with Splendour in the Grass enables us to provide benefits for our members at the festival, including bathrooms that are cleaned more often, an express bar queue and a meal per day in the form of a $10 voucher," said the spokesperson.

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Naturally, Virgin Mobile is taking the closed environment opportunity to make some money, with the telco hosting The Power Point, which sells recyclable mobile phone battery chargers and prepaid credit vouchers for existing customers.

Rather than stress simple brand goals such as raised awareness and the promotion of its new Robin Hood themed plans, Virgin Mobile said its primary goal was adding to the experience for festival attendees and those not able to make it to the broad farmlands that now hosts the 10 year old event.

"The main things we are looking to communicate are that we want to enhance the festival experience for members at the festival through member benefits, and that for those that can't make it, we are bringing the festival to them through the Virgin Mobile live stream."

This stream will include performances by bands including Coldplay, Kaiser Chiefs and The Vines. It will air on Virgin Mobile's YouTube channel on Sunday afternoon.

This participation in social media is a key tenet of Virgin Mobile's overall strategy to win over and satisfy customers. In an interview in Sydney yesterday, Virgin Mobile COO Matt Anderson said monitoring sites such as Twitter and Facebook and using that feedback to improve customer service was a priority for the challenger telco.

Independent research released by RightNow revealed that telcos were responsible for creating the dissatisfied customers. Anderson said Virgin Mobile currently had several fulltime staff members whose job involved staying abreast of social media commentary, with these staff members empowered to respond to comments, both positive and negative.

Finally, when asked about the overall effectiveness of experience based marketing, the answers implied that it was as much about having fun for the brands as it was for the fans.

"Experiential activity is an opportunity for us to have fun with our customers and make them feel part of something bigger.

"At Virgin Mobile we are dedicated to providing a more rewarding telco relationship, which we believe should go beyond the transactional to include all the fun and personality that comes with being a Virgin brand."

Motorola, sponsors last summer's Big Day Out festival were invited to participate in this story.