Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ads of Telecom Service Providers


It all started with the launch of MTS in Chennai. I was quite keen to understand if the Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) do differentiate themselves and try to position themselves.

So, once again, I started a discussion with my colleagues. We discussed ads of various TSPs.

Airtel ads:

We started with the leader – Airtel. Airtel has used celebrities and continues to do so. The latest ones are Madhavan-Vidya Balan couple ads. The other ad that captures ones attention is the Lil Kid ad where a boy is reprimanded by mother. For some time now, SRK and Sachin do not seem to be given spots. Other ads which remembered were two kids playing on two sides of a fenced border. AR Rahman setting the Airtel tune was a long running campaign at one point of time.



The models used otherwise resemble people from day-today life. There is a play on emotions and ads are derived from the happenings in life. Suresh Talpade, Madhavan-Vidya Balan and the Lil-kid ads really touch emotions.

Vodafone-Hutch ads:

Before I summarize the ads, please read Sonia’s blog on Zoozoos, the latest brand ambassadors for Vodafone. Zoozoos are the talk of the town.



Whether Hutch or now Vodafone, the ads have always been very creative. Use of the Pug really established the brand. While there is an emotional play, it is more fun to watch the ads. Whether it was the ‘network follows you’ or the ‘always there to help’, the pug always captivated you. I am sure the ads did well for the brand and for Pug as a pet. The demand for pug rose so did the rates.




On the other hand, the Irfan Khan ads were smart.

Vodafone (earlier Hutch) ads were always fun to watch. Emotions were less. Models and more importantly the locations always are sophisticated.

Idea ads:



Idea ads were more idea ads.

Abhishek Bachchan, who is the brand ambassador, uses phone as a medium to solve issues facing the society. “What an idea, Sir Ji” ads are really smart creative. There is not much of personal touch. There was just one Shreya ad and does not look like it had many reruns. I liked the use of cell phone for distance education. It was touching!

BSNL ads:



For a public sector company, BSNL does seem to have pretty ads running. It was surprising when Preity Zinta became the brand ambassador. More so now, as Deepika Padukone promotes the brand. The VAS ads of BSNL are also pretty decent.

There is no emotion; BSNL ads are very functional.

Aircel ads:

After changing so many hands, Aircel at last seems to be a brand that is trying to make itself a serious national player. Dhoni is the brand ambassador. Like Pepsi, Aircel draws heavily on cricket. Dhoni demonstrates what one can do with an Aircel connection – browse, make payments, follow cricket, search…



Nothing more from them yet.

We somehow could not recollect Reliance ads. The one that we did was a young couple traveling to Badrinath and the girl using the phone to let her granny listen to the bells at the temple.

We could recollect Kajol featuring on Tata ads. Of course, now they have the Hello-Hello series running. Quite funny they are.

And of course, the Virgin ads. The ads are very focused and the company seems to know whom they are going after which is the college going

Now the most important part, will I ever change my service provider based on the ads. There is hardly any differentiation in service. I hold Airtel connection. There is constant complaint about the Hutch service but I must say Airtel is as bad. Interestingly, there is an Airtel tower above our office even then there are call drops!

Services and rates are hardly a differentiator.

I wonder what role these ads play. If not to woo at least to retain, I guess. Except for Virgin and MTS, I haven’t seen anyone else who seem to have take value-for-money positioning. But someone like me may never go for Virgin or MTS.

But I maybe wrong on wooing part, at least partially. The number of subscriber base in India is about 300+ million is about 30% of the population. It means that the mobile market has not even crossed the early majority. Indian mobile market is set to grow further. Even if there is a potential market to add another 400 million, it is a huge market which is the rest of early majority and the entire late majority at stake.

I am not sure about services but we are going to see more and more creativity flowing out of TSP war.

Not sure how Number Portability will affect the ads. That is because at least today with the number you possess one can identify your service provider. But with number portability that identity is lost.

Hope in this loss, customers gain!
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