21, 2007, was a memorable day for the telecom industry in India. Not only did it mark the entry of the world's second largest mobile firm, Vodafone, into India, but also a transformation of India's fourth largest mobile operator, Hutch, into Vodafone. In an innovative move to mark this transformation, media agency Maxus bought the entire inventory on the STAR India Network channels (13 in all) for 24 hours (from 9 pm on September 20 to 9 pm on September 21).
Kartik Sharma, general manager, Maxus Mumbai, affirms that while the client brief was simple, the main task was to register the message in the shortest possible time, to the largest possible audience set, and in a very memorable manner. It may be noted that in the past, Hutch largely relied on innovative outdoor to set the pace, whenever it had an important announcement to make. "But this time, we had to reach people in their homes at a national level," says Sharma. "Television was then the natural choice for us, and within that, STAR India became our preferred network." This is because STAR India addresses a wide set of consumers, including the mass belt, youth, urban society, children and women.
Apart from its 24 hours of fame, Maxus and Vodafone decided to engage the viewers as well. This was done by integrating the brand into content: The first ad for Vodafone (the dog and the kennel) broke on STAR Plus at 9:04 pm on September 20 on the fiction show 'Meri Awaaz Ko Mil Gayi Roshni'. The sequence had a contract killer at a restaurant asking the staff to switch on the television for him, which is where the ad played. Furthermore, the first ad breaks across all STAR channels after 9 pm happened simultaneously (at 9:09 pm) to ensure that viewers could not avoid the first set of ads.
To ensure no monotony in the ad breaks, Maxus and O&M devised several shorter 5-10 second spots that aired intermittently. Further, the channels ran a contest, asking consumers to SMS Hutch's new identity to 57827. The prize was two tickets to any destination in the world.
Aston bands, too, were leveraged. As is STAR's procedure, the time between the end of one show and the start of another is filled with a small clipping promoting another show. Here, the bottom third of screen was filled with the message that Hutch was now Vodafone, while the promo (which generally appears in a window on the screen) made use of a red background instead of STAR's customary colours.
Further, the recap of serials had the Vodafone tune playing subtly in the background, while a part of the screen carried the Vodafone rebranding message. Every half hour of programming saw two exposures of the Vodafone logo on the top left hand corner of the screen for about 10 seconds.
Channel [V] even had its VJs commenting about the change and how it was necessary in the show, 'Basement', while the Vodafone message was displayed below on the screen. Further, VJs prompted viewers on how to download the Vodafone ringtone and caller tunes on their cell phones. There were mentions of the rebranding in shows such as 'Did You Know?', a show that primarily talks of Channel [V]'s achievements in the recent past. A super in the show read, 'Did You Know? Hutch is now Vodafone'.
Not to say that the other channels were ignored. Ads also ran on Sony, followed by Zee Network, SaharaOne, other GECs and news channels, although the roadblock happened only on STAR India channels.
Concludes Sharma of Maxus, "We could have easily flashed the Vodafone logo on various channels all day long, but that gets intrusive. We didn't want to turn people off!"
According to sources in the know, the STAR India activity alone has cost Vodafone close to Rs 50 crore.