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Reliance Mobile woos Dhoni, Abhishek

September 19, 2006 10:58 IST

Anil Ambani group's Reliance Mobile, which is looking to spread its GSM telephony tentacles across the country, is believed to have roped in a constellation of six celebrities for a big-bang advertising campaign.

While cricket star M S Dhoni is almost certain to be a part of the star cast, industry sources say the company is also in talks with film star Abhishek Bachchan. (The junior Bachchan already endorses Motorola's cellular phones.) Others in the campaign -- to kick off by the end of this month -- will be from the fields of sports and entertainment.

Speaking to Business Standard, Reliance executives confirmed that the campaign would be a multi-celebrity campaign involving cricketers, music industry stars and film stars. Sanjay Behl, head of branding, Reliance Mobile said: "We are in an evolutionary stage in growth and imagery. The communication will reflect that."

The new campaign is being executed by creative shop Cartwheels, run by JWT's former creative head, D Ramakrishna.

Behl is not willing to disclose if Abhishek, or Hindi music director and singer Himesh Reshammiya, is a part of the cast, though he claims that there might be about six celebrities who will endorse Reliance Mobile.

Celebrities are not new to cellular phone service providers. While cricketer Sachin Tendulkar has been associated with Airtel since 2003 and Rahul Dravid bats for Hutch, former Indian cricket captain Saurav Ganguly has featured as the ambassador for Tata Indicom. Apart from Ganguly, Tata Indicom has also used star couple Kajol and Ajay Devgan in its campaigns.

But Reliance has reason to be aggressive. Apart from its CDMA services, which form the bulk of Reliance's approximately 22 million subscriber base, the company is in the midst of scaling up in the GSM space, where it will find itself up against formidable rivals like Airtel and Hutch.

While Hutch associates itself actively with cricket, theatre and art, Airtel has played up its music association through ringtones using its brand ambassador, A R Rehman.

In February this year, Reliance had applied for GSM spectrum in markets like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Uttar Pradesh (east and west circles), and Jammu and Kashmir.

It already operates GSM (900 MHz) mobile services in circles like West Bengal (including Kolkata), Assam, Orissa, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, and the Northeast.

Prasad Sangameshwaran in Mumbai