New service brings celebs to cell phones

Tuesday, July 9, 2002

You've probably accepted by now that Britney Spears is never going to call, even if she actually had your number.

That doesn't mean, however, that she won't leave you voicemail � for a price. For $19.99, you can purchase a three-month subscription to Britney's wireless fan club, which entitles you to "surprise" voice and text messages delivered right to a mailbox you can access from your mobile phone.

It's the latest in the marketing of Brand Britney (didn't she used to be a singer?), this time under the guidance of WFX, a New York wireless network working to marry the latest technology and entertainment fads.

"Lots of people were thinking about how to sell content and how to deliver content and how to make the wireless device, the cell phone, into a medium for entertainment," says Jed Alpert, president and chief executive officer of WFX. "A celebrity's voice is a very powerful thing, intimate information about a celebrity is a very powerful thing and a cell phone is a powerful thing that everyone has with them."

Available for the past two months exclusively at Best Buy stores, other retailers will soon stock Britney WFX, Alpert says. Fans who buy the Britney kit get kitschy goodies, including a replica all-access backstage laminate and a static cling decal. They also get a phone card-size piece of plastic with a sultry picture of Britney on the front and an access code on the back that allows them to receive pre-recorded voice and text messages from the pre-packaged singer and her retinue.

"Britney was a very natural first one to start with, because she has a very dedicated fan base," Alpert says. "She is enthusiastic about communicating with people who consume her product."

Alpert and WFX aren't stopping with Britney. He says the company has plans to create wireless fan clubs for other entertainers and expand into the sports world, too.