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Phone Ads Unwittingly Spark East Side-West Side Feud

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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Virgin Mobile's new outdoor ads may leave some New Yorkers feeling disoriented—and, inadvertently, insulted. This week, the cell phone arm of Richard Branson's media conglomerate began rolling out a new campaign with the tag line "You Rule" to publicize its no-contract service. In New York, where 350 posters will be installed over the next two weeks, the content of the ads is tailored to specific neighborhoods.

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Somehow, though, an unknown number of posters meant for the Upper West Side have instead been erected on the Upper East Side. More than a geographical foul-up, the posters actually dis the neighborhood in which they're placed. Upper West Siders would never allow themselves to be locked into service contracts, the campaign goes, "because up here it's not cool to be tied down and uptight. If you want to live like that, move to Greenwich, or at least across the park."

The campaign is the first created for the always good-humored Virgin Mobile by Durham, N.C.-based McKinney, which won the $15 million account in March. A Virgin spokeswoman says the blame for the mix-up appears to lie with the outdoor company responsible for mounting the ads. "So hopefully, if there was an error, they'll just flip-flop them."

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