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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Vodafone Make the Most of Now

Vodafone Make the Most of Now!                                                                                                      
The Pug:
It’s said that a dog is a man’s best friend. Vodafone is using the Pug as symbolic of its strong customer service. Earlier during the days of Hutch, a possible differentiation based on strong network was possible. Now when having a strong network is perceived by consumers as almost of point of parity, the role of the pug has also changed from a symbol of a strong network to a symbol of superior customer service. This superior customer service would be there to help you in every possible way, at every possible place and at every possible time. Hence, you would be able to make the most of your time and mobile connection. This is how connect the pug connects with Make the Most of Now.

In the days of Hutch, people found the pug adorable. What Vodafone does is that it retains and pug and at the same time to distance itself from Hutch, it changes the storyline from "Where ever you go, our network follows" to "Happy to help".

The Zoo Zoos:

Vodafone invented the imaginary Zoo Zoo characters and their imaginary world to act as a medium through which they would talk about the Value Added Services of Vodafone. The characters through their antics and through the storyline which was based on a particular value added service, became so successful, that Vodafone is now using them to talk about all services which would add value to the life of a consumer and help him Make the Most of Now. An example for this is discounts on Roaming.

Though presently, the Zoo Zoos have been replaced by the Pug in all TV commercials, but they are being leveraged by Vodafone as a medium to engage with the TG through Facebook. Further, they are using the Zoo Zoos on their site to talk about special offers.

The connect of the Zoo Zoos is directly with the punchline of Vodafone.."Make the Most of Now"...They represent services that would help the consumer Do More, add value to his life and hence "Make the Most of Now". The Zoo Zoos are in fact are the essence of the Make the Most of Now proposition. They represent services that go beyond beyond plain Voice and SMS to offer something more to the consumer. These not only help the consumer in making the most of his mobile connection but also put a smile on his face.

Talking of putting a smile on our face, the humour element is very strong in the imagery of Vodafone. Talk about the Zoo Zoos or the Pug, though both have different roles to play in the communication of Vodafone, the one thing common among them is the humour and the comic element. Customer delight is the end focus of all marketing efforts. If making the consumer happy is the aim, then Vodafone achieves that just through its communication- the pug and the zoo zoos are sweet, adorable and they also make us smile. The propositions that they represent- excellent customer service for the pug and value added services for the zoo zoos, would only take this happiness to the next level.

Vodafone extends the concept of Make the Most of Now and takes it to the Next Level. Have a look at this screen shot from their site:

Ordinary things like browsing through Tariff Plans and Services are transformed into a fun activity. Getting information is one thing and smiling while doing a mundane task like browsing through a list of offers and services is really Making the Most of Now!!!

Hence two common elements come out about the Vodafone brand. The first that Vodafone is a brand that would go beyond the usual to offer services that would offer more and add value to the life of the subscriber. The second is that Vodafone is a brand which has a fun element attached to it, which would make us smile. Both these points together symbolize the punchline of "Make the Most of Now".

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Telecom brands

Telecom Brands

"A brand image is typically the attributes one associates with a brand, how the brand owner wants the consumer to perceive the brand - and by extension the branded company, organization, product or service."

Telecom sector brands like Airtel, Vodafone and IDEA are amongst the brands having highest recall and awareness in India. They are also amongst the most likable. Some of them like IDEA and Airtel have a clearly defined identity which remains constant across all their communication. Through his post I seek to examine the common thread which is apparent across some of these brands and also seek to lay a base to go deeper into a common thread which is not so apparent in one major telecom brand.

What is IDEA?

The IDEA brand is represented in essence by the punch line "What an IDEA!". It seeks to convey that here is a brand which would strive to find out innovative ways in which the mobile can positively enhance the life of the consumer. In this it goes beyond Network, Customer Care and other hygiene factors to go to the Next Level and seek to find different contexts in which the mobile can add value to our lives. One context is social issues. For example in one campaign, the politician seeks the opinion of the people through the mobile before taking a decision. In another, the problem of caste is solved when mobile numbers act as identity for people instead of caste which is divisive.

Similarly, the recent Talk when you Walk campaign, which explains how health problems can be solved just by talking while you are on the phone. The solutions which the campaign talks about might not be practical but what clearly comes out is that IDEA as a brand is innovative. The issues which it talks about are issues which touch the common person but the solution for all the same is the mobile.

IDEA as brand is represents innovation and the power of the mobile to go beyond being just a tool through which two people communicate and being a medium which touches and positively impacts the life of the common person in issues which are of importance to him.

What is Airtel?

If IDEA talks about the mobile touching the user in different aspects of life, Airtel sticks to basics and represents the most important purpose of the mobile, communication and a medium of providing expression to feelings and emotions. Again the same theme is represented in different campaigns of Airtel.

Similarly, Tata Indicom talks about Value for Money and Virgin Mobile symbolizes Youth and Wackiness.

What is Vodafone?

A couple of statements from reports on, about Vodafone’s new Happy to Help pug campaign:

Rajiv Rao, executive creative director, South Asia, Ogilvy India, which is the agency behind Vodafone’s campaign, when asked about why the Zoo Zoo’s were dropped in favor of the pug clarified that “while the Zoozoos are the brand's newest property (and will continue to be used for campaigns in future), they are in no way endorsing the brand "

Note: A Brand’s property is not endorsing the brand.

Amar Wadhwa, planning head, Cheil Communications says "As a consumer I feel as if two different brands are talking to me: the 'pug' brand and the 'Zoozoos' brand".

Elements of the Vodafone Brand

The Pug

Talking about the pug first, it seems to be the most dynamic dog in history. From the Hutch days when it followed a boy 24*7 and stood for the promise of a strong network, it changed homes and morphed into a Vodafone dog and said Change is good. Most recently, it has changed loyalties and is now following a girl 24*7 and acting chivalrous (dog in shining armor!!!) by helping her out and proclaiming “Happy to Help”!

The Zoo Zoos:

The immensely lovable characters which were used by Vodafone talk about its Value Added Services. The Zoo Zoo through different commercials explained the concept of different value added services.

The Other Characters:

A screen shot from their site:

How do different elements like the pug, the zoo zoo and these cartoon characters connect with each other and with the Vodafone brand? What does the Vodafone brand stand for? Where does the punchine of "Make the Most of Now" fit in all this? I would attempt to answer some of these questions in the next post. Till Vodafone says...Make the Most of Now!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Santoor Soap

Challenging Unilever: Santoor Soap

  • Santoor is now the number one soap brand in South India (Market Share of 15.1% by value)
  • At the all-India level, Santoor continues to be the third largest soap brand with a 7.5% value market share in the first quarter of fiscal 2009-10.

Target Audience: Women, over 25

A typical Santoor woman is someone who is between 25-35, is married and has a young daughter. She is aspirational towards her career and is typically shown as an achiever. Despite being married and having a daughter, she is someone who still wants to look good and young. "Mistaken Identity" is a common theme in Santoor Advertising, where the 30+ female protagonist is mistaken by others as someone in her early twenties because of her younger looking skin. She is shown as someone who is modern, confident, forward looking and at the same time a believer a Indian values and traditions.

Benefits Sought: Wants to look young

Consumer understanding: The key insight behind Santoor is that a women irrespective of their age want to look good and have a younger looking skin. They want to conceal their true age through their appearance. The second insight is haldi and chandan are natural ingredients which are associated with skin beauty.

Positioning: Santoor promises younger looking skin. The promise is through natural ingredients like Chandan and Haldi which have traditionally been considered as good for the skin.

Communication and Creative strategy:

The image being communicated is of the Santoor Woman described above who looks much younger than her actual age. Others admire her for her confidence and youthful looking skin. This admiration is further enhanced because she manages to look so youthful despite being married with a kid along with being successful in her career. This is for many an ideal aspirational image of an Indian woman.

The essence of the creative strategy has remained the same throughout campaigns. It revolves around the idea of "mistaken identity" where the youthful skin of the Santoor woman gives an appearance that she is in her early twenties. The myth breaks only when her daughter comes along running and calls her mummy. Keeping this basic premise, the advertising of Santoor has tried to keep its relevance along with the changing times.

In the campaign launched this year around the elections, the Santoor woman adds another dimension to herself. She is shown to be someone who is sensitized towards her social responsibilities as a citizen, in line with her changing roles. She goes to vote where she is stopped and asked for age proof, as she looks so young(another interpretation of "mistaken identity"). Finally after she has voted, her daughter asks her why do we vote, she replies...."aapke bhavishya ke liye" or "for your future"!

Thus santoor soap has kept its relevance along with changing times and its positioning of "younger looking skin through natural ingredients" continues to strike a chord amongst women. It is maybe the only beauty soap whose core target group is women around 30. In terms of benefits sought it offers enhancement in terms of younger looking skin. This is a benefit which is extremely desirable to the Santoor Target Group. The Santoor soap has done its marketing homework in Targeting the perfect segment with the just right Positioning. No wonder, its the No 3 soap brand across India right now!

The new Santoor election ad can be seen at the following link:

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Mobile Number Portability in India

Game Changer: Mobile Number Portability

Mobile Number Portability (MNP): Starting from Sep' 09, MNP would be possible in a phased manner across India. That means, customers can change their mobile operators while retaining their number after paying a fee to designated agencies who would be managing the process of number portability. With that, the biggest barrier people had while changing connections is gone. The nightmare of changing mobile numbers was the biggest defense markets leaders like Airtel and Vodafone had against new players of the likes of Aircel, Reliance GSM and others. With the coming of MNP, the customer would be benefited because now an Airtel or a Vodafone would try harder to retain him and at the same time, he would have the option to shift to an Aircel if he finds their schemes attractive.

New Players: These would be looking at giving customer value propositions that make them shift from existing big players like Airtel and Vodafone. These would have to be innovative and compulsive enough so as to induce a large customer base to switch operators.

Contender No.1: Reliance GSM:
Reliance Communication has launched its pan India GSM services and has coincided the timing of the campaign months before MNP kicks in. They are using Hrithik Roshan as their brand ambassador. They are talking about human emotions, in the sense that when you want to express something, you do not wait, you "Go for it". By talking about human emotions and their expression, this campaign slightly resembles an Airtel campaign. The difference here is that while Airtel talks about mobile as a medium of expression of all kinds of emotions, Reliance goes to the next level by saying that don't wait to express yourself, you "Go for it" and do it right now.

Talking about baits for people to switch to Reliance GSM, they talk about trust, when they talk about their being India's No. 1 network, they talk about the new buzzword, 3G, when they talk about their being a 3G ready GSM technology and finally they talk about acceptability, by bringing in Hrithik Roshan as brand ambassador. The Reliance brand has been traditionally seen as a mass brand offering value for money. The acceptability of it amongst the classes was less. Very few of them would have switched their Airtel or Vodafone to go to a Reliance or a Tata Indicom, which faces the same problem. Now, with Reliance talking about 3G and with Hrithik endorsing the brand, the acceptability is bound to increase amongst the classes.

Contender No 2: Aircel: Aircel also choose to launch its pan India campaign in the same year that the MNP would kick in. Aircel indulges in what is called the "by pass" attack in marketing warfare. It did not talk about network, it did not talk about customer service, it did not talk about tariffs and price points. Nor did it talk about mobile as an expression of emotions (Airtel) or mobile as an instrument of social change( IDEA). It focused its campaign on value added services.

If you can not match a competitor on existing attributes of service held important by customers, you create new attributes( Reliance, being the first operator to talk about 3G) or you increase the importance of other attributes which till now were not the most important in the minds of customers( Aircel, with Value Added Services).

Aircel has changed the meaning of the term "value added" by making it the main theme of its offerings.

This is what the Chief Marketing Officer of Aircel says:

“Our marketing strategy aims to bring to the forefront the multi-functionality of the phone.”

Here is a print ad of their value added service, Pocket Internet, through which users can find useful information by the search feature of the service. The ad clearly explains what benefits people would get while using this service.

The second print ad talks about another feature of their "Pocket Internet" that enables you to access Facebook on your mobile. Notice again how the advertising talks about the benefits of using the service without attempting to establish an emotional connect like an Airtel or now Reliance GSM.

Aircel's innovation lies in branding a commodity. Everyone who uses internet on mobile knows that you just need a GPRS connection and a compatible phone to access Facebook or any search feature on the mobile. It is not a feature which is operator dependent.

Now, Aircel "brands" the commodity known till now as the "GPRS Connection" into "Pocket Internet" , adds some free games and dialer tones to it and calls the ability to browse through search engines and facebook as features of its "Pocket Internet". The strategy and the brilliance lies in creating a differentiation where none exists.

Aircel through its advertising is trying to create a brand image of a provider which provides features with high perceived and practical value which go much beyond voice and SMS. This is the "pull" which would make people to switch to Aircel from other operators once MNP kicks in.

The Defenders: Airtel and Vodafone

With the coming of mobile number portability, one of the most important defense which Airtel and Vodafone had against new players, which is the reluctance amongst people to change their mobile numbers is gone. What would market leaders do, when faced with the prospect of losing their new market share to new players who would be luring customers with exciting offers?

Here is what Airtel and Vodafone are doing....

  • Strengthening the brand: A strong brand is the best defense against competition and price wars. The Zoo Zoo campaign did wonders to the Vodafone brand.
  • Removing Causes of Customer Dissatisfaction: Something what Airtel is doing with the Start Stop service.
  • Focusing on providing more value to existing customers:This is the premise behind "My Airtel, My offer".

The Defender No 1: Airtel

The impeding Mobile Number Portability has resulted in Airtel focusing on existing customers. It has reason to do so, as being the biggest operator it might be the most affected by MNP.

It is focusing on providing more value to existing customers through "My Airtel My Offer" and also making their life easier through the "Start Stop" service.

The "My Airtel My Offer" service enables customers to know about various Airtel offers suited to individual requirements and specific needs, without receiving any calls or SMSs on their mobile phones. The offers that are made to existing customers are based on the customers' past usage, current recharge behavior, and VAS preferences.

Through "My Airtel, My Offer", Airtel moves to the next level in marketing and Customer Relationship Management by offering schemes customized to each individual. The advertising featuring Vidya Balan and Madhavan retains the human element and the core essence of the Airtel brand which stands for providing expression to feelings and emotions. The "Barriers Break" campaign had focussed on the brand as an expression of freedom. Notice how a brand retains its essence even if campaign objectives are different.

One of the key causes of customer dissatisfaction is that customers are not aware which all value added services they have been subscribed to and how to unsubscribe from these services. This problem if not addressed could lead to customers switching to other operators once MNP comes. Airtel is preparing itself for that by removing the cause of dissatisfaction. Through the Start Stop service, subscribers can easily find out which all services they are subscribed to and then they can easily unsubscribe from any of them, free of cost, through the same menu.

The "My Airtel, My offer" along with the "Start Stop" service would go a long way towards customer retention. Well, dislogding the leader wont be easy after all for the likes of Reliance GSM and Aircel.
The Defender No 2: Vodafone
The Zoo Zoo phenomenon has been unprecedented. The success of the campaign lies in taking brand engagement to a new level.
  • The Zoo Zoos have lent a certain halo to the brand. It has resulted in tremendous admiration of the brand in the eyes of the subscribers. The high quality off the campaign would rub off on the mobile services of Vodafone in terms of how the consumers perceive them.
  • The Zoo Zoos have also result in high likability and memorability to the brand.
Both the above points are great for a brand, if it is looking at customer loyalty and retention.

Finally, focus on Value Added Services in the Zoo Zoo campaign exposed current and potential subcribers of Vodafone to a wide variety of services which Vodafone offers from Voice SMS to Fashion Tips, to Dating Tips to Phonebook backups and many more. All reasons for people to stick to Vodafone. Am sure, it would be tough leaving a Vodafone connection right now!

Nett Nett...Telecom promises to be the sector to watch out for, with strong defenders and ready to fight challengers! May the Best Operator Win!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

75 Years of Dettol

Iconic Brands...Dettol!

Here is a video of how Reckitt Benckiser celebrated 75 years of its most trusted and iconic brands in India.

(The site has embedded an ad before the actual video. This can not be forwarded. Just let it play for about 15 seconds and then the actual video will play.)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Voice SMS in India

Selling a Concept...Voice SMS

The concept of Voice SMS has not taken off in India. There is a lack of awareness regarding Voice SMS and how to go about using it. Further when call rates are so cheap and the Indian user is comfortable sending text messages, where is the context for sending Voice SMS?

There can be three broad contexts for sending a Voice SMS over a text SMS:

1. The first is for those who are not comfortable in typing out text messages. People like the elderly would come into focus here. Also people who are constrained by the English language key pad and would be far more comfortable in sending messages in their local languages. This has not been exploited by marketers till now.

2. The second context which Airtel tries to exploit is about adding “emotion to messages”. The campaign which Airtel come out with showed Saif recording a Voice SMS for Kareena who is upset with him. The “emotions” conveyed by Saif when he says "I miss you so much, it hurts", would not have come out so well in a normal text SMS.

3. The third context which Vodafone is using is based on a research which talks about the urban market using such a product for sending fun messages to people close to them. One Zoo Zoo records a Voice SMS and sends it to another Zoo Zoo who can not control his laughter when he hears it.

It is very interesting that both Airtel and Vodafone use a story to illustrate the possible usage contexts for a novel concept like the Voice SMS. Airtel talks about adding emotion to messages and Vodafone about sending fun messages. A story helps in understanding and grasping of a new concept by the target audience. I am not sure about the success of Voice SMS in a country addicted to Text SMS but I really like the way both Airtel and Vodafone are pitching Voice SMS through campaigns targeted at the youth. Their target segment for the service is same but the value propositions different. One is talking about adding emotion to messages and the other about sending fun messages.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Impatience is the new life on punchlineexpert

PunchLineExpert above Airtel and!

According to google, PunchLineExpert's write-up on the "Impatience is the new life" campaign is ranked higher in page results than both Airtel's official site for the campaign and also the review on Click the screen shot below for a better view.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Airtel Impatience is the new life Target Group

Adding on...mood of the youth!

The more you try to analyze this campaign, the more you realize what kind of effort the agency has put in to make it "in sync" with the youth today.
• A line in the ad says...and "they" say "we" are impatient! : making a clear distinction between those who come within Airtel's target group and those who do not. The fundamental element of marketing is the STP-Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning. In that Airtel succeeds by not only picking out its target segment, designing its product (fast broadband) according to the needs of that one segment and finally positioning it for them as the answer to the emotion their target group identifies most with-Impatience. This is different from the usual telecom ads which “are meant for everyone”.
• The ad talks about an attitude which has become synonymous with India’s youth. The youth have an individual identity of their own which they are proud of and can defend it at any costs. Gone are the days when people were apologetic about what they believed in. The youth know what they like and what they feel and do not care what others think about that. At least this is what we, the youth try to show on the outside. The result is that being impatient which is considered a vice by others is a virtue which the youth proudly proclaim as their own. “Impatience is the new life” is more than just a campaign. It is a mirror on the pulse of the youth and a social trend of individuality and in your face attitude.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Airtel Impatience is the New Life Campaign

Impatience is the new life!

Core TG: A group IMRB calls “funsters”. It is between 16-25 years old and basically consists of college students and young professionals.

Research Inputs:
  1. 11 million Internet connections in India of which five million are home broadband connections.
  2. Also, almost half of the 81 million Internet users in India are below 25 years of age
Implication: A huge majority of youth are net users but are not using internet or broadband connections. This is the group Airtel is trying to target, apart from upgrading those with "old world" slow broadband connections.

Creative concept: that today’s youth is impatient and that this impatience is a virtue that propels them to strive for and achieve more in life

Being on the verge of being out of the "Funster" TG, as defined by IMRB, I can vouch for the fact that being impatient was a trait which was looked down upon. "hamesha jaldi main rehte ho/ek saath bahut saare cheezen karna chahte ho/hamesha harbari lage rehte hai/koi kaam aaram se, dheere dheera nahin karte/etc etc, was the usual refrain which the "funster" TG has had to and still hears from parents and other people who have long passed the definition of the "funster" TG.

Rediffusion DYR, the agency for Airtel Telemedia Service has turned the argument on its head and connected with the TG by converting what was till now a vice which the "funster" TG had to live with, into a virtue, which is in fact the identity of young India, Youngistan, as Pepsi calls them.

The youth today is no longer bound by the constraints of yesterdays. They(we, actually, being technically still in the funster TG!!) want success and they(we!) want it fast. Impatience is now a virtue that propels them to strive for and achieve more in life. Impatience also transcends into apathy for the system, the politicians, the bureaucracy, in fact anyone who stands in the way of making things move.

I would say Impatience is not the new life, it has been for sometime the mood of India's youth. Its a social trend...a phenomenon. That's the beauty of advertising, using social trends to connect your target group with your product or service, which is in this case, Airtel's broadband service, which exemplifies the freedom from long impatient waits we all have had to suffer due to slow net connections. A perfect 10 to Airtel and Rediffusion DYR from punchlineexpert!