Virgin Mobile Canada flashes spirit fingers

With hopes of coaching the sport all the way to the Olympics, Virgin's sponsorship of Canada's cheerleading team kicks off at the first annual World Cup this weekend, replete with user-generated cheers.

Canada’s national cheerleading team got a little more pep in their step this week as Virgin Mobile Canada announced a major sponsorship deal with the Canadian Cheer Union and Cheer Alliance.

This weekend, Virgin is sending Canada’s national team off to the first-annual international World Cheerleading Championships with a little encouragement from fans. Through its website and email alerts to customers, Virgin developed a dedicated mobile phone line for fans to send their cheers, which are then printed and given to the team. The line has already received about 10,000 messages of support, says Nathan Rosenberg, Virgin Mobile Canada’s chief marketing officer, which shows the sport has a huge underground following.

‘We’re interested in the fact that this is an under-represented, under-funded sport that really needed a bit of support. And it’s one that actually encourages young people to get out there, be active and work in a team environment,’ Rosenberg tells MiC. Cheerleading also has a predominantly female fan base under the age of 25, which part of Virgin’s core demographic, he says, and in line with the texting phone they’re promoting, the LG 260 – a ‘sexy little product for a sexy sport.’ Helping raise the profile of cheerleading will also give Virgin bragging rights when it becomes an Olympic sport and hits the mainstream.

The brand will present the 2009 Cheer Alliance National Canadian Cheerleading Championships at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Ont. on May 8 to 10. At the event, which expects more than 30,000 spectators, staff will be handing out gifts and little megaphones to cheer teams. A Virgin text-to-screen service will be available, as will a video feed for those who want to download scenes from the event on their mobile phones.