Virgin: It's all about 'network'ing

By Antara Ghosal , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | May 20, 2010
Virgin Mobile has come up with a new set of TVCs for its GSM launch campaign. The commercials, created by Bates 141 Mumbai, continue on the lines of the brand philosophy, 'Think Hatke'

Virgin mobile is back in the news, doing what it does the best - thinking 'hatke'! The mobile brand's new set of commercials, launched as a part of its GSM launch campaign, adds a dash of glamour to the brand DNA of youthfulness and fun, showing actor Ranbir Kapoor getting naughty-witty with his Virgin Mobile.

& #BANNER1 & #With its GSM offering, Virgin has entered a new brand space called Network Alchemy, which is all about the power of a network and how best one can use his network of friends to go ahead in life. In terms of product offering, too, it has brought back the 'get paid for incoming' tariff and combined it with economic outgoing call rates. The new campaign aims at integrating the brand idea of Network Alchemy with the product idea of getting paid for incoming calls and having cheaper call rates on outgoing, STD and local calls at 20p/min.

The ads show how its brand ambassador, Ranbir Kapoor, uses the tariff plan to make his outgoing calls. He devises innovative ways of getting incoming calls. In one ad, he puts a poster on a Beetle with his number on it so that people can call him up. In another ad, he puts his number on a poster in a café. In the third ad, he goes to the extent of morphing a beautiful woman's image alongside his own and posting it on Facebook as his cousin's picture, following which he is flooded with calls from his friends who, either directly or otherwise, arrange to meet him and ask to be introduced to his 'cousin'.

Towards the end of the ads, he spends the money he has collected from these incoming calls to talk for long hours with his girlfriend.

In short, the creative concept explored in the ad is that the more incoming calls one takes, the more outgoing calls one can make.

According to Bates 141, the creative agency behind the campaign, a lot of research went into developing the new brand space for Virgin. Its research shows that today's youth looks at innovative ways to cut down their mobile expenses. Using multiple SIM cards is one of these ways. Most youngsters today carry a CDMA, a GSM and a couple of SIMs within the GSM so that they can switch SIMs as per their convenience and cut down their mobile expenses.

They are not at all brand loyal and turn to operators which give them the best deal. Virgin, with its new product offering, intends to cash in on this behaviour of the youth, confirms the agency.

Giving further details on the campaign, Prasad Narasimhan, chief marketing officer, Virgin Mobile India, says, "This new campaign is to introduce 'Get Paid for Incoming Calls' in the GSM space. This concept works extremely well with our target audience in many ways. In this campaign, we are using the insight that youth are always in search of various ways to reduce their mobile expenses. With the launch of this new campaign from Virgin Mobile, they should look at innovative ways to get incoming calls from their friends. The campaign is all about getting as many incoming calls and using that to make outgoing calls to their friends at just 20p/minute."

The objective behind the campaign is to get more acquisition in the segment. Known for its CDMA services, this time Virgin Mobile is venturing into the GSM space, which is already crowded with many players. As Virgin competes with the likes of MTS, Uninor and Videocon, it wants to keep its focus fixed on the youth. It aims to attract the maximum number of youth with products exclusively designed for them. The idea is to make them look at Virgin Mobile as their own network.

Virgin has already launched its GSM service in15 circles but the campaign for the same, featuring Ranbir Kapoor and Genelia D'Souza, has been released only in the Southern states and Maharashtra. Unlike the recently launched national campaign, it mainly pushed the STD at 20p proposition.

The cost of the current campaign is Rs 8-9 crore and the media used is mostly TV, print, outdoor and digital.

A virgin thought, is it?

The TVC has evoked mixed responses from the fraternity, with some appreciating the thought, while others find it a little bland compared to the earlier ones.

"As ideas, these are entertaining and fun. However, I liked the poster one better as in terms of insight, it's truer, while the other two look more convoluted for advertising," says Brijesh Jacob, managing partner, White Canvas. However, he doubts whether Ranbir Kapoor was actually needed for the commercial.

On the other hand, Vineet Mahajan, senior creative director, McCann Erickson Delhi observes that this is not the best from the Virgin stable and could have been made sharper and funnier. "Virgin Mobile brand has been associated with quirkiness. Somewhere, these ones are a little low on that."

Jacob goes a step ahead and remarks at the latest campaign's striking similarity with an earlier set of commercials from the Virgin stable. "Although entertaining and funny, I find it quite similar to one of its earlier campaigns. That campaign, too, talked about making people call you and making money out of it. The only difference here is Ranbir Kapoor doing things while in those, a bunch of not-so-famous boys were ideating for the same.

"It seems like they have just extended the idea from there and didn't push it enough," he adds.