Vodafone brings back the 'Common Man' to promote 123 services

By Anushree Bhattacharyya , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | November 11, 2011
The telecom service provider, in its new campaign, positions a mobile handset as a device meant for many services, apart from calling.

Telecom service provider Vodafone India, in its new campaign, promotes its voice-based services 123 by urging people to do more on their phones, besides talk and send SMSes. The campaign, which consists of three television commercials, also marks the return of the Common Man.

Conceptualised by Ogilvy, the campaign consists of three TVCs, of which two, titled Celebrity and Recipe, are on air. The TVCs show Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan promoting 123 -- a voice-based service. Through the new campaign, the agency positions a mobile handset as a device which provides many services, rather than one which is used just to make calls. The three TVCs show the various dilemmas and issues faced by the actor, and how a mobile can help him resolve them. The campaign promotes the idea 'Kyon ki phone sirf baat karney ke liye nahi hota'.

In the southern markets, the TVC features actor/director Prakash Raj.

Anuradha Aggarwal, vice-president, brand communication and consumer insights, Vodafone India, says, "While most of us use smartphones and know the possibilities, there is a huge segment of consumers with basic phones, who hesitate to explore other services or even data. So, even while it is relevant to them, there is a huge inertia, with lack of awareness, cumbersome activation process, and uncertainty on costs and usage.

"The audience we are speaking to has recently reached a certain comfort level with talking, so this service is an effort to guide them, enable them to have fun, and explore other things they can do with their mobile value-added services (VAS)."

Rajiv Rao, national creative director, Ogilvy India, explains, "Irrfan Khan and Prakash Raj have long been our partners in being the face of the common man. The masses associate with them for their raw and honest take on life. Added to that is the unassuming optimism in the surrounding chaos. They echo their sentiments, agony and hope. With a simple narrative style, they explain technology more effectively for our target audience. It's all answered on Vodafone by dialling 123 dekho aapka mobile aur kya kya kar sakta hai."

Currently, of the three television commercials, two are on air, with the third one slated to go on air soon.

Refresh packaging

Industry professionals believe that while all the commercials have been well-executed, in terms of ideation, the TVCs fail to bring freshness, and fail to break the clutter in the telecom service provider category.

K V Sridhar, national creative director, Leo Burnett, remarks, "When viewed in isolation, all the commercials appear to be well-written and executed. However, when the TVCs are watched in the context of the telecom industry, they lose their charm. The TVCs lack freshness in appeal and fail to break clutter. It's about time that courageous brands such as Vodafone came out with something big."

According to him, the campaign fails to live up to the expectation of the earlier commercials such as Chhota Recharge -- which also talked about value-added services, and featured Irrfan Khan in 2006-07. Sridhar opines that the brand also needs to change its brand ambassadors and bring in fresh faces.

Narayan Devanathan, senior vice-president and national planning head, Dentsu Marcom, says, "The thing about all things Vodafone is that you get a sense of déjà vu, or as Irrfan Khan might say, 'Aap ko nahi lagta ki...yeh jo cheez hai, pehle kahin dekhi hui hai? But, that's exactly what works for the brand. It evokes a sense of reassuring familiarity with every piece of communication, this one included. And, what it establishes, once again, is that you don't always have to stand out. Familiarity can breed connections too, especially the sly-sideways-grin-inducing emotional type of connection."

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