Uninor proclaims 'Ab mera number hai'

By Antara Ghosal , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | January 22, 2010
While other players in the telecom industry talk about prices, plans, schemes and offers, Uninor is set to position itself as a brand that fuels the ambitions of the Indian youth

In the success story of Indian economy in the recent past, the telecom sector plays an important role. Indeed, the sector has witnessed the biggest ever action in the last couple of years, and has grabbed attention from across the globe.

No wonder then, that within months of Tata Docomo entering the telecom space -- which was already dominated by biggies such as Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance Communications, Tata Indicom and others - another player, Uninor, is set to make its debut. The GSM service provider is the result of a joint venture of real estate major, Unitech and Norway-based Telenor Group.

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But how do these newcomers break into the highly competitive Indian telecom market and acquire customers? The trend suggests aggressive marketing as their mantra. If Docomo hit it right with the price card, Uninor is banking on its strong and unique positioning.

"We chose to go beyond the immediate functionalities of prices, plans and schemes and offers. There's something much bigger going on in India. An entire generation is breaking free and reaching out to get what it wants. We hope to be able to serve as a tool in their hands to do this," explains David Meneghello, executive vice-president, marketing, Uninor.

Uninor has set its sights on an 8 per cent market share by 2018. At the same time, it wants to be ready and responsive to its customers. To achieve this, the brand aims to speak to the young, ambitious Indians in their own voice.

Uninor's recently launched brand campaign is a reflection of this thought process. The 360-degree campaign, launched in eight circles so far (Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar, Eastern and Western Uttar Pradesh), upholds the voice of the youth, proclaiming that their time has arrived. The campaign will be launched nationally soon.

"Our positioning statement, 'Ab mera number hai', is the voice of a young Indian who is restless to succeed; who knows that his or her time has come and it is now. We at Uninor believe that heroes need not necessarily be celebrities and stars. The real heroes are out there -- succeeding every day in their own lives, making it on their own and wanting more. And these are the faces you see in our TVCs and on our billboards," adds Meneghello.

About the cost of the campaign, he states, "We are in a market that is competitive and cluttered. Our spends will reflect the need to establish and position ourselves as a strong telecom brand in India."

On a creative note

Conceptualised by Leo Burnett, Delhi, produced by Rising Sun and directed by Shoojit Sircar, the campaign showcases common people and youth from various walks of life, who have one thing in common -- raw ambition.

Unlike other telecom brands, which play the 'fun' card or feature 'happy, shiny faces', the campaign has a stark, raw and intense look.

Detailing more on the creative idea, KV Sridhar, national creative director, Leo Burnett, says, "We want this brand to be placed in young people's everyday lives and play an active role in helping them achieve their ambitions. We want it to be a brand that is inspirational, more than aspirational."

The campaign comprises five short films of 10 seconds, two theme films and two product films. The 10-seconders set the tone for the brand. They are snippets that showcase the youth's aspirations in a direct and in-your-face manner.

The two theme films take category ownership and work on the insight that most young people think of getting a mobile phone when they are preparing to step into the world in order to chase their ambitions; eventually, this mobile number stays constant with them, while everything else changes. And it is through this mobile number that opportunities come knocking.

The product films, too, speak the same language. They talk about all the struggle and hard work bearing fruit with that one critical call, which now costs just 29 paise per minute.

The films have been conceived and written by Abhinav Tripathi, creative director, copy, Leo Burnett. While talking to afaqs!, Tripathi mentions that most of the films have been inspired by his own or his colleagues' real-life stories.

"We did not want to be a voice to the customer, but the voice of the customer. Our tone is such that we are not instructing the audience on what to do and what not to do. Instead, we trust them on the fact that they know what they want and how to achieve it. We are just saying that we, as a brand, will fuel their ambitions," he explains.

On the efforts that the creative team has taken to break the clutter, Loveleen Raina, business unit head, Leo Burnett, says, "We have purposely avoided clichés of the industry, such as using good-looking models, expensive foreign locations or high-profile celebrities. Our view of the young is clear - they are their own heroes and role models and they appreciate honest and straight talk. We are not here to peddle razzmatazz; we are here to make a difference in young people's lives in our own little way."

The innovation carried out in the outdoor campaign is in sync with the brand idea of upholding the ambitions of the youth. In several small towns, projection hoardings were installed with plain screens. Passersby were then asked to stand in front of the camera and see themselves on the screen with the projected message, "Ab mera number hai".

Has the time come for Uninor?

The fraternity is divided on whether the TVCs would help the brand establish its roots in the Indian telecom industry and hold a special place in the heart of its consumers.

Naresh Gupta, national planning head, Publicis Mumbai finds the campaign interesting. He acknowledges that although the category is very challenging; but Uninor manages to create a niche for itself.

He is hopeful that the campaign will make people consider the brand. "There is a promise of being new, and people do consider the new brand when they are evaluating. However, new customer acquisition in this category is increasingly getting tough. Does this really build a differentiated reason? I am not so sure. The 29 paise per minute strategy is different from 1/2 paise per second; and therein lies the trap. So, either it will work very boldly, or Uninor will have to do a quick course correction," he states.

Naren Kaimal, executive creative director, India, M&C Saatchi feels that it's a good campaign from the strategic planning perspective; but the creatives don't break any new ground.

"The emotional route, appealing to young job-seekers, may find some resonance in the short term; though in an impending number-portability era, a greater opportunity might have been missed. Also, the tagline reminds me of the old soft-drink line of 'Mera number kab aayega'," he explains.

He adds that in the scripts, he would have liked to see more interesting characters, or an insight into this generation of young people. "The bland goodness of hard-working, sincere, self-made, idealistic is true for every generation of youth. But today's youth goes beyond all these, which needed to be captured in the campaign" he opines.