Cannes 2011: The socialisation of mobile

By Prajjal Saha , afaqs!, Cannes | In Advertising | June 20, 2011
Two speakers shared how the mobile was used to connect socially and achieve their professional objectives.

On Sunday afternoon, in one of the seminars at the Debussy in Palais Des Festivals, Cannes, two distinct personalities from distant professions participated in a panel discussion moderated by Robert Winslow, senior partner, Fleishman-Hillard. They had something in common -- both had used the mobile to connect socially and achieve their professional objectives.

While Dr Orine Levine, executive director, International Vaccine Access Centre uses the mobile platform to change and save lives by promoting vaccination in developing countries, Mitch Spolan, head of national sales, Living Social, helps local merchants and brands increase their business.

Levine shared how the mobile phone was used to increase immunisation coverage in countries such as Kenya, where one out of four children is not vaccinated or get it late, which makes them vulnerable to disease. In Kenya, with a population of 40 million, there is only one physician for 9,000 people. However, every second person has a mobile phone and two-thirds of the people use mobile finance.

Mobile phones were used to make a difference in this country. Not only were parents reminded about vaccinations, they were even rewarded through airtime credit and financial payment if they took their kids to the health centres. The aim of this initiative is to increase the immunisation coverage by 25 per cent.

Spolan agreed that with a little incentive, a mobile phone could change habit and disrupt at the time when the consumer is going to make a purchase. Sharing an instance, he said that a person would go to the same restaurant outside his office and have the same sandwich for days, until one fine day, when he was in a new city, he discovered an application that not only provided information on nearby restaurants, but also offered discounts and revealed how many people had opted for the discount.

Spolan added that if the experience was enjoyable, people would share it on their social platforms, as well. He added that in his business, 85-90 per cent were local merchants who would only pay if they saw deliveries and that was the challenge. However, the good part was that these local merchants were not usual advertisers and this was their first brush with advertising.

Levine added that advertising was very poor in global healthcare and the mobile platform could be used to propagate healthcare messages.