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Vodafone pug returns in new role

April 24, 2008 12:41 IST

He is back. And, no, it's not Arnold Schwar-zenegger that we are talking about in another sequel of Terminator. But the little pug, which has become the face of erstwhile Hutch and now Vodafone's brand campaigns.

This is the third dog after Spikey and Chika being used for Vodafone and Hutch campaigns respectively. He's white and from South Africa where the film was shot.

The adorable pug, with a cherubic girl, stars in Vodafone's recent 'Happy To Help' television commercials on customer care.  Clearly, the brand just can't seem to do without the pug's magic. And why should it, argue experts, after all, the pug is like one of its 'brand ambassadors'.

Explains Vodafone's Chief Marketing Officer, Harit Nagpal: "We use the pug for thematic brand campaigns rather than products and services, thus its disappearance from time to time." However, this time, the pug is being used for its customer care service being advertised for the first time.

The ad has a little girl on a school bus suddenly realising that her tie is missing. The next shot has the pug running behind the bus with the tie. In another TVC, the pug is licking postage stamps for the little girl before she pastes them on envelopes. Clearly, there is no need for glue.

But why did Hutch need to advertise customer care? Does it suffer from poor image? No, says Nagpal. "Customer care is a key facet of our brand, and just like the ad shows, it's there to help you with any problem that may arise." The brand would be using mediums such as print, outdoor and digital for the customer care campaign.

"The idea is to tell the customers to come to us to know more about the services, which we launch from time to time," adds Nagpal.

But Santosh Sood, brand consultant and former COO of Rediffusion, which handles Airtel, feels that the pug brings a likeability factor to the brand irrespective of the fact whether you are a customer or not.

"There is universal likeability about the dog which gives a lot of positive feel to the brand and thus the company uses it from time to time and to a good effect."

However, Sood points out that when Hutch became Vodafone, there wasn't much in common in the brands' imagery. "The pug was the common factor and had a lot of positive equity going for the brand."

He believes that Hutch had a positive brand image and to make sure that it continued the effective use of the dog was extremely pivotal for the transition.

Nagpal, on the other hand, feels that the pug is an integral part of the communication. The campaign has been launched at the right time as it would get a lot of airtime during the IPL matches. Clearly, the pug could make for an interesting case study on the future use of brand ambassadors.

Aabhas Sharma in New Delhi
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