MTS helps you get your way with pester power

By Anushree Bhattacharyya , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | August 16, 2011
In its new campaigns, telecom service provider MTS has talked about its new proposition M Bonus, which provides extra talk time, highlighting 'something little more', with a sprinkling of humour.

Telecom service provider MTS, a brand of Sistema Shyam TeleServices (SSTL), which is a joint venture between Sistema of Russia, the Russian Federation, and Shyam Group of India in its two newly-launched campaigns, one a sequel to the other, talks about its new offer M Bonus, which highlights the desire for 'something little more'.

The television commercial titled Pester Power, showcases a geeky-looking man who follows another young man persistently, repeatedly asking for a date with his sister. Suddenly, his phone's talk time is over. Relieved, the young man tries to run away, but continues to be chased by the same man. The young man is irritated and tells him to go ahead and have a date with his sister, but to stop calling him.

The second TVC, titled Serial Texter, a sequel to the first one, takes the story forward. This time round, the same geeky character chases the young man by sending unending text messages through MTS M Bonus that gives 100 bonus SMSes to the consumers.

Speaking to afaqs!, Amitesh Rao, director of brand and media, MTS, says, "Basically, the product offering is for those consumers who have been with MTS for long now. Depending on their needs, we decided to provide them with an offer that suits them. The TVC also highlights the value we stand for -- 'Do what you can't'. And, with this TVC, we have brought together our value and the offer. The TVC also highlights the other factor that in life, we always desire something more, which in this case, is being provided by MTS."

N Padmakumar, national creative director, Rediffusion-Y&R, elaborates, "There's a lot to pester power, and can make you give up something, in order to avoid hearing what you don't want to hear any more. The geeky character is an apt example of the case where despite being most unattractive, it is through sheer pester power that he gets his way. This could only happen as he is being provided with a high amount of talk time by MTS."

Being cornered

The TVC has drawn mixed reviews from advertising professionals. While the concept has been liked by a few, others feel it's irritating to watch it on television.

Charles Victor, national creative director, Law & Kenneth, says, "I think the concept rings true. Everyone has had this one pest clinging onto their ears at some point or the other. Given that, I think there is a definite connect in the first few seconds. Watching the TVC, I kept wondering where it was heading, and the 'zero balance' moment was quite a surprise! But, without trying to sound like I'm trying to find something wrong in it, I just felt a couple of situations could have been more surprising."

Victor, though, admits that he enjoyed it. "It stuck. I remembered everything they intended me to remember. And, I watched it a couple of times again just for the heck of it," he adds.

However, Narayan Devanathan, chief strategy officer, Euro RSCG India, calls it an annoying idea. According to him, the ad gives rise to multiple doubts. Says he, "There are many questions -- is it the pesky wannabe boyfriend who's annoying as hell, or is it the ad? If he had M Bonus, why did he turn into an automated message in the middle? Is that disembodied automated voice that of a man or a woman? What all do I get with M Bonus again? Plus, how exactly do I get it? Plus... you get the drift. The ad poses a lot of pesky questions, and at the end of it, some of us may feel just like the guy at the receiving end and say to the ad, 'Dude, just go away!'"

He asks another question, from a strategy point of view, "How exactly is this a demonstration of 'a step ahead'? Or is it, like Vodafone's Power to You, just a tagline that someone (the Russians?) mandates in every ad? Where is the persuasive reason -- why should I buy into this idea and not something else (pun unintended)," Devanathan questions.

"There is one thing going for the ad, though: If you happen to be in front of the telly when it plays, it will gratingly intrude upon your senses, and you won't be able to ignore it. Whether you'll want to remember it is another thing altogether," Devanathan remarks.

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