Uninor: Taking the discount route

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | December 29, 2010
The latest campaign marks a shift from emotional to functional positioning.

In a move to popularise its recently rolled out discount-related offering, Uninor, the joint venture between India's real estate major Unitech and Norway based mobile services provider Telenor Group, has rolled out three new ad films, the latest of which was broken in November 2010.

It may be recalled that at the time of its launch in January 2010, the brand came out with a campaign that floated the tagline, 'Ab mera number hai'. Back then, the campaign aimed to take an emotional stance and position the service provider as one that encouraged young ambitious Indians to go out and achieve their dreams. This time, however, the positioning is more functional and product-led; it focuses on discounts and talk time.

In the film, the protagonist, Rohit, is shown complaining to his friend that just because one's talk time lasts longer than that of others, it doesn't mean that others must take advantage and use it. Just as he is asserting that the talk time is his and his alone, his girlfriend comes and asks him for his phone. He happily gives it away as his friend glares at him questioningly, his expression stating the obvious. The element of humour is evident as his words and actions are totally out of sync.

In a sequel of sorts to this film, the same characters are featured. The girl, once again, is shown using the boy's phone to speak to a friend while he looks on.

Around a couple of months ago, another TVC was broken, which showed a girl using her boyfriend's phone to talk to her brother-in-law on his birthday. Her boyfriend looks into the camera and speaks to the viewers, saying that Uninor makes such situations easy to handle as the service provider offers up to 60 per cent discount on all local calls, enabling one to extract more out of one's talk time.

The campaign has been crafted by Leo Burnett, Delhi. Curious Films is the production house and the films have been directed by Vivek Kakkad. The brand's media duties are with ZenithOptimedia, while its OOH duties are with Mudra Max.

Nitin Pradhan, executive creative director, Leo Burnett tells afaqs! that the creative brief was to communicate the brand's discount plan in a simple manner. "Our main task was to simplify the product offering and convey it to consumers in a very easy to understand manner. The basic point to be communicated was that the talk time lasts longer with Uninor's discount plan."

He adds that the TV campaign further simplifies the message communicated via POS (point of sale) and OOH (out of home) avenues a few months ago. Geetu Kashyap, creative director, art; Sumant Bhattacharya, creative director, copy; and Utsav Khare; copywriter are the creative brains behind the overall campaign.

The insight used for this campaign is that consumers today are very price conscious and extremely aware of existing plans in the pre-paid market. Given this, coming out with a good value for money plan that allows users to avail a hefty discount and make the most of their talk time was thus deemed the right thing to do.

Besides TV, other important aspects of the media mix include radio, POS and OOH branding, as well as some digital innovations.

Does the campaign work for brand Uninor?

Industry folk seem to like the commercial and feel that it is bound to do good things for brand Uninor.

Jitender Dabas, executive planning director and vice-president, JWT Delhi is of the opinion that the telecom category is a hyper-competitive one in which new entrants don't get enough time to work on their brand positioning; older players (for instance, Airtel) had this luxury as at that time the market wasn't as cluttered as it is today.

"This is why new brands need to move into transactional positioning fast," he says regarding Uninor's shift from emotional to transactional positioning. "Docomo similarly moved into the functional space soon after its launch campaign," Dabas reasons, adding that what Uninor is attempting via this campaign is fair enough, given the current market scenario.

Dabas, however, feels that the brand hasn't entirely given up its emotional stance. "The 'Ab mera number hai' launch campaign stood for opportunity, hope and emotional appeal. The present campaign has retained the 'slice of life' bit. The protagonist in the current ad is someone who belongs to young India and represents today's relationships. Thus, I see continuity and consistency between the launch campaign and this one."

On the flipside, he feels that the brand should have retained its 'Ab mera number hai' tagline in this campaign.

Overall, Dabas feels this campaign works for brand Uninor as given the market clutter, telecom brands need to shout out their offers loudly. "Further, brand loyalty in this category is weak as consumers are also in a very transactional and practical mind space," he concludes.

afaqs! also spoke to ideation consultant Vinay Kanchan and sought a pure brand perspective. Kanchan feels that this brand strategy is not unique and Vodafone and Airtel have used it, too. "I don't think Uninor's first and current campaigns are meant to position the brand too distinctly. Many brands start off with an emotional take and then inject a rational angle," he explains.

He recalls how Aquaguard had done just this some time ago with an emotional communication, Yeh Jal, as well as a highly rational ad about its Aquaguard 'E boiling plus' offering. Kanchan opines that Uninor probably attempted to engage the consumer at an emotional level before rolling out the current rational offering. "To get a consumer to switch to your service - you need a strong practical offering," he offers.

Tangentially, he says that it is interesting how Uninor has taken the non-celebrity approach and has communicated the frugality of the offering by 'humanising' it with the help of great characterisation. Since, at the end of the day, all players in this space are out to help their customers save more money, Kanchan feels that this is not a bad niche for Uninor to take up, given the giants it is up against.

"Sometimes, to find your place, you have to find a sharply positioned slot. Uninor has successfully done this with this ad," he explains. Others, he says, utilise the hyperbole tactic by exaggerating the effect of a product offering.

All in all, Kanchan concludes that the ads have come out well and that they leave him with a smile on his face. "Good performance has taken an average joke far in the TVC," Kanchan signs off.

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