Tata Indicom: The connection with a cure?

By Abhishek Chanda , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | May 01, 2009
After establishing an emotional connect for the brand through 'Suno Dil ki Awaaz', Tata Indicom has come up with a product-centric campaign to highlight its network coverage

Switch on the television set for an IPL match and you can see all kinds of brands battling it out for your eyeballs. So, in the telecom category, while Vodafone has its Zoozoos prancing about all over your screen and Airtel has its celebrity duo Vidya Balan and R Madhavan walking the thin line between love and slowdown, Tata Indicom has come up with its 'Hello Hello' campaign to talk about its network superiority.

The campaign, based on Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI's) reports on network congestion, takes a more tactical route as compared to the brand's earlier emotional campaigns (featuring the Pathan brothers, Lalit Modi, Prachi Desai and Himesh Reshammiya) that Tata Indicom had engaged in after going through a major repositioning exercise, centred on the tagline 'Suno Dil Ki Awaaz' (Listen to Your Heart) in mid 2008.

In simple terms, the TRAI report is all about monitoring the level(s) of congestion at the points of interconnection between various service providers on a monthly basis. This parameter signifies the ease with which a customer of one network is able to communicate with a customer of any other network. It also tabulates just how effective the interconnection is between any two networks.

Hello? Is it me you're looking for?

The campaign has a set of three films that hit the Indian television screens right from the onset of the IPL. Out of these, two topical films deal with two of the most talked about issues in recent times - the IPL and the elections, while the third one is a general story.

So, while the Knight Riders Fan film opens with a die-hard Bengali fan defending Sourav Ganguly in a conversation with his friend, the Rally film has a party worker justifying the absence of masses in the rally due to the lack of frills. The Restaurant film has a waiter fumbling and repeating the words 'Hello, Hello' while narrating the menu to a bemused family. The common thread in all these stories is the fact that all these people have a habit of saying 'Hello' after every word they utter, which, the VO warns, is an effect of bad network and connectivity.

The films end with the VO suggesting that switching to a better network and connectivity through Tata Indicom could solve the problem.

Cracked by Contract Advertising, the films have been penned by Raghu Bhat, senior vice-president and executive creative director, and developed by a team including Ravi Deshpande, Kaushik Roy and Arunava Sengupta. It has been shot by Rajesh Krishnan in various parts of Mumbai and produced by Soda Films.

The campaign will enjoy visibility through TV, OOH (out of home), digital, radio and on-ground activations. Apart from the IPL, the films will be aired on news channels as well as popular GECs (general entertainment channels).

A simple idea

Using a day-to-day problem that a consumer faces as the entry point, rather than a glorious announcement of topping the list of the least congested networks, was a conscious decision that the brand made, reveals Bhat of Contract. "We wanted to add the basic elements of advertising, such as humour and exaggeration, to make the campaign noticeable and memorable," adds Bhat.

Basing the construct of the ad on observations of consumer behaviour has been in practice for a long time. It often helps the consumer identify with the proposition being put forward and creates a good recall value for the ad. One may recall a Nokia 3105 CDMA ad released a few years ago, which was based on a similar premise of highlighting consumer problems - a stiff neck that one could avoid by using the speaker phone feature of the brand.

Bhat clarifies that the habit of repeating the word 'Hello' over and over is also a similar example of consumer behaviour in the telecom category, and they are among the first ones to identify and cash in on it, albeit with a lot of exaggeration.

Does this ad run the risk of being just another network ad? Bhat defends the idea and says, "Most players in the category are busy engaging themselves in symbolic or representative advertising. They are not showing the real picture, discussing real problems or offering resultant solutions."

According to him, such symbolic images or representatives of the brand could have been afforded some years ago when there weren't many players around.

Arunava Sengupta, who heads the account in Contract, seconds Bhat's opinion and says, "The basic brief being network superiority, we could have worked out an announcer along the lines of 'Voted number 1'. But instead, we entered through a genuine consumer problem and offered a solution using network advantage as a route."

Network problems anyone?

Whether the brand picks up significantly and adds more subscribers to its base after the campaign has done its bit remains to be seen, but overall, advertising peers have found the campaign quite likeable.

Steven Mathias and Priya Pardiwalla, senior creative directors, JWT, feel that the campaign has a good insight at play. "Hello is probably the most used word on telephone, especially when the conversation is unclear. This campaign brings out the clarity angle rather well and dramatises something we all connect with," they say.

Maintaining that the restaurant execution worked best for them, they add that it is a big step ahead of the usual Tata Indicom work that one has come to expect.

On the other hand, though Ankur Khurana, brand partner, planning, Orchard Advertising, finds "yet another good strategy and a different set of commercials" in the campaign, he is still a bit confused about its efficacy.

"The expectation from this ad is to convert users from other network to theirs - or is it to tease them that 'Well! My subscribers are happy and you are not," he quips.

According to him, the urban post paid consumer is living all the problems and will still not switch because either the company provides the connection or the fact that he has given his number to so many people that he just can't afford to switch.

As for the Tier 2/Tier 3 town post paid consumer, Khurana feels that "he just doesn't care because to him, mobile is just a device he uses to be in touch and he is happy with what he has - he does not sway under any of the tech jargon. He sways more because of plans than brands."

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