Rediff.com  » Business » Exit Vodafone pug, enter network engineer

Exit Vodafone pug, enter network engineer

By Romita Majumdar & Viveat Susan Pinto
January 25, 2019 21:15 IST

The latest ad, done by O&M again, Vodafone’s ad agency, shows two engineers tinkering away in a dimly-lit highway tunnel.

A year ago, telecom operator Vodafone had brought its mascot, the pug, back into its advertising lexicon, while opting to convey the message of #StrongerTogether.

The merger with Idea had not been completed yet and Vodafone chose to push the message of a data-strong network using a symbol loved by all.

 

The communication was done without getting down to the brass tacks of networks, signals, towers and missed calls, something that rivals Airtel and Jio were pushing hard.

Instead, the Vodafone commercial, done by ad agency Ogilvy & Mather (O&M), showed an army of pugs following a boy through a street, symbolic of the network that follows you (Vodafone’s earlier positioning), now laden with an underlying message that one could talk, browse, play and shop without interruption (reflective of its new positioning), the result of adding a tower every hour.

A year on, Vodafone, now part of the merged entity Vodafone Idea Limited (VIL), has taken the thought of a data-strong network to the next level with #StrongerEveryHour, its first campaign of the year.

The idea of adding a tower every hour is there, but it is layered with one more message, namely, the service is uninterrupted even in crowded places.

The latest ad, done by O&M again, Vodafone’s ad agency, shows two engineers tinkering away in a dimly-lit highway tunnel.

One tells the other, “What’s the point of working in these conditions if people will only watch cat videos and not really know or remember us after all the hard work we’ve put?”

The older engineer turns around with a twinkle in his eyes and says, “We do this so people don’t remember us.”

Vodafone’s trademark sophistication and cool has made way for the earthy realism of telecom - it is a tough business to crack, requiring an army of people, who work in tough conditions, ensuring consumers get the best experience and service.

K V Sridhar, founder and chief creative officer, Hyper Collective, says that the new communication is a reflection of the new reality - the  domestic telecom market is hyper-competitive and that players have to constantly remind consumers that it is the better network providing uninterrupted service in data-dark places including tunnels, elevators and mountainous areas.

As K S Chakravarthy, chief creative officer, Tidal7 Brand & Digital, says, “The cuteness is gone. What we see is proof-of-the-pudding advertising.”

Hirol Gandhi, executive vice president and national integrated head, Team Vodafone at O&M, says, “We started this journey last year with #StrongerTogether. It showcased Vodafone’s always-on effort in delivering a better experience for subscribers.

"The campaign, #Stronger EveryHour, builds on it, humanising the network improvement effort of Vodafone.”

Sashi Shankar, chief marketing officer, Vodafone Idea Limited, says that it was important to put the spotlight on the “backbone” of the telecom industry, namely, network engineers.

“For any telecom service operator, network engineers are the backbone for providing uninterrupted connectivity.

"Through this campaign, we are saluting these heroes for helping us deliver superior customer experience.

"Driven by digital, the #StrongerEveryHour campaign captures the essence of providing a seamless network experience across other media such as television, out-of-home, print and radio.”

Telecom experts say that the merged entity has been quietly driving its network rollout initiative over the last few months and the campaign brings to the fore the faces pushing all of this, pointing also to a clever human resources policy that believes in giving credit where it is due.

The campaign, they say, has also picked up from where most other telecom operators are positioning themselves today: as the leading mobile data service providers.

The commercial, say  experts, comes with a hint of the familiar Idea brand of earthy humour packaged in Vodafone colours such that you expect the Idea background score to actually play. Instead, viewers hear the thumping beats in sync with Vodafone’s communication.

In October 2017, Vodafone India and O&M, reiterated their brand commitment with a new ad campaign focused on the telecom operator’s 4G services.

Idea Cellular, meanwhile, parted ways with Mullen Lowe Lintas, the agency that gave them its iconic “What an Idea Sirjee?” and “An Idea can change your life” campaigns.

Idea has always catered to a largely rural market with loud jingles, lush fields and quaint villages. Vodafone, of course, has focused on the urban elite.

Brand experts say that VIL would do much better to push through Vodafone’s image over Idea’s, since the latter’s target audience is too close to its primary rival Jio.

VIL and O&M are not dropping hints at all. For now, there seems to be no pug in Vodafone’s communication.

Romita Majumdar & Viveat Susan Pinto in Mumbai
Source: source
SHARE THIS STORY