Airtel Broadband: Impatience is a virtue

By Savia Jane Pinto , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | April 30, 2009
The first TVC for Airtel in the broadband space has the company hoping to emerge saviour to a time-bereft youth

There's a clock that ticks high up on the wall, but there's another one that runs way faster - that in the mind of today's enigmatic GenNext. This foot-tapping, thumb-twiddling, restless generation wants it all, now. That's a daunting milestone to catch up with for any marketer, let alone one whose core offering is supposed to be all about speed in the first place.

So, to say that it's a breeze for Airtel Broadband to make a grand splash at the very beginning - being possibly the seventh player in the broadband arena in India - would be a gaffe.

Airtel finds itself in the company of other established telecom-cum-broadband players in the country, including MTNL, BSNL, Vodafone, Idea, Reliance and Tata Indicom - players that are obviously trying to harp on quick surfing speed to change perceptions about broadband in India. In a commercial for Airtel Broadband, created by Rediffusion Y&R, the brand joins this jamboree, out to lure the youth with the promise of better surfing speed.

Show me the speed

The film has impatience etched in every frame. Shot in a pacy, slick style by director Farouk Aljoffery of Cutting Edge, the film strings together shots of restless young India refusing to patiently wait its turn. With visuals such as twiddling thumbs, shifting feet, cars whizzing past rapidly or fingers tapping away furiously at a laptop, the ad paints a picture of agitation.

"They say we're impatient. We are," goes a young man's voiceover, adding that with the number of friends to meet and things to do, the youth can't wait for the clock to tick, the sun to rise or the tide to turn. The crescendo builds up to the line, 'Impatience is the new life. Live it with Airtel Broadband'.

Not only the visuals but also the voiceovers used in the ad contribute to the build up: the ad alternates between voices of men and women, until the voices fuse to form a collective medley of sorts.

According to Ramanuj Shastry, chief creative officer, Rediffusion Y&R, the use of both male and female vocals is to establish the equality in thought, since gender boundaries among the youth are changing. "The unified voices are almost like a chant," he says, explaining the attempt to 'vocalise' feelings.

The ad has been shot in Kuala Lumpur with a Red One camera, one that doesn't use film but a memory card as this eases the speed of the post production process. Incidentally, this is not Aljoffery's first brush with Airtel - along with the Rediffusion team, he has shot many Airtel films in the past.

The music has been given by Ram Sampat, while the ad finishes off with a modern rendition of the Airtel signature tune (created years ago by AR Rahman).

You talking to me?

Clearly, the ad is a cross section of what goes on in the mind of its TG (target group) and more importantly, the speed at which it does. "The brief was simply to get into the head of young adults," explains Aljoffery.

According to the planning team at Rediffusion, "Their sense of time is completely different from the rest," which makes this set the perfect choice for a brand looking to provide speed, particularly now when social networking is a world which the youth live, breathe and interact in, and one can't possibly underestimate the power of user-generated content amongst this lot.

Did the commercial run the risk of being preachy to a target audience which abhors the term? Shastry clarifies, "The ad doesn't tell them what to do. It revolves around a philosophy that says, 'We understand what the youth want'."

Fact of the matter

Internet speeds start at about 256 Kbps (kilobytes per second). But usually, the speed that is most used commercially ranges from 2-4 Mbps (Megabytes per second). "That's very average speed, which we've grown used to, but that doesn't stop us from willing it to be faster," says Sagar Mahabaleshwarkar, chief creative officer, Rediffusion Y&R.

Airtel is out with an offering of 16 Mbps in Internet speed: activities such as opening of websites, downloading content (such as music, data, movies) should be a breeze, claims the company.

The ad film establishes the edginess and irritation in its consumer set, while offering an outlet in the form of the high-speed product. "In order to show speed, we had to show the drag first," states Mahabaleshwarkar.

In addition to the commercial, a microsite,, has been created as an interface to connect with the consumer.

Impatient enough?

While Airtel and Rediffusion target GenNext, we targeted adlanders to check whether the ad hits home with its on-the-go messaging and picturisation, or whether it evokes 'impatience' while viewing it.

Ashish Khazanchi, national creative director, Publicis Ambience, is thoroughly impressed with the insight about the impatient youth and the execution. "I really liked the angle of making a virtue out of impatience, as never was it more relevant than it is today. Also, it has rarely been used in a category such as this," he says.

But what leaves him disappointed is that there isn't any binding story. "To me, the ad stays at the level of a brief and doesn't move beyond." However, his hunch tells him that there's a whole lot more that the brand can and will do to explore the angle of impatience in its future communication.

Brent Gosling, chief strategy officer, Lowe Lintas, offers his take: he feels that the commercial tries too hard to appear restless. "The patronising nature of the ad talks down to the youth," he shrugs. "When I hear a line like 'Impatience is the new life', I can't help feeling it sounds just a wee bit old fashioned."

© 2009 afaqs!