Aircel seeks support in belief

By Shibani Gharat , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | April 12, 2012
Aircel has unveiled its new platform, 'Let's keep believing', in its new TVC featuring M S Dhoni.

What does an individual do in tumultuous times? Buckle under pressure, or hold a belief to prevail and emerge successful? Telecom brand Aircel's new campaign attempts capture the concept of self-confidence and belief on the face of adverse circumstances.

Aircel TVC

The new campaign, created by McCann Erickson, features brand ambassador M S Dhoni, and highlights the brand's new philosophy, Belief, and its role in overcoming adversities. The campaign is conceived by Prasoon Joshi, executive chairman and CEO, McCann Worldgroup India and president, South Asia.

The TVC shows how the Indian skipper came from a small town with no proper amenities. Although he had no cricketing gear to speak of at his disposal, he believed in himself, and reached the pinnacles of success. Dhoni asserts that in tough times, this belief sustains him and sees him through even today.

Aircel has come up with a campaign after a very long time. In fact, this is the first campaign created by McCann Erickson for Aircel, after the agency won over the business from Dentsu Communications in July, 2011.

Earlier, Aircel's brand platform was 'World of possibilities'.

Apparently the 'Belief' platform has been arrived at after extensive work with core consumer groups. Consumer insights revealed that the youth in India is optimistic and confident of finding its place under the sun. In the metros, belief is a catalyst that helps the youth seize the opportunities that come their way. For the small town youth, too, it is the backbone and a key driver of success.

Aircel will continue to communicate its offerings in the mobile internet space using the new platform and focus on providing technology solutions that help people keep alive their everyday beliefs.

Prasoon Joshi

Speaking about the concept and the new platform, Joshi says, "The brand thought for Aircel is belief and this piece of communication talks about self-belief. We have used the brand ambassador, Dhoni, at a juncture where belief is most important for the future. I am sure the thought will resonate with the target audience as well."

Speaking about the philosophy, Joshi says that the aim was to internalise the philosophy and not merely portray an external projection. "Hence, the belief platform was chosen," he explains.

The campaign has been created in the context of the Indian cricket team's poor performance. "However, we should not lose hope and have self belief," says a positive Joshi.

Anupam Vasudev, head, marketing, Aircel, says, "So far, the brand focused on the functional aspect to create differentiation. This campaign builds on that while taking it to a higher emotional plane, for a deeper consumer connect. Aircel will endeavour to provide its customers transformational technology solutions, which will bring magic to their lives and help them keep their beliefs alive."

The campaign went on air on March 30 and will be visible across all major channels. Print, outdoor, mobile and BTL will be the other media platforms supporting the TVC.

Bad year for telecom

The past financial year has generally been very bad for the telecom sector. Till February 2012, India had roughly 280 Unified Access licences, out of which 122 were cancelled as of February 2, 2012, while another 81 were known to be placed under the legal scanner. Out of these 81, Aircel owned the maximum (21) licences, followed by Reliance (18 dual technology), Tata (17 dual technology), Vodafone (9), Bharti (6), and Idea (2).

In fact, in April 2011, the government had issued licence termination notices to three telecom operators - Aircel, DB Etisalat and Sistema Shyam Teleservices (SSTL) - for delays in roll-out of services in eight circles.

Interestingly, in the wake of Uninor's potential downfall after the cancellation of its licenses and the public squabble between its parent companies - Telenor and Unitech - the brand has released an aggressive ad campaign to send out a strong message to one and all, titled 'We Love Uninor'. The communication effort was to re-instil some much-needed confidence among its customers, especially in the wake of harmful and speculative media reports about the brand's impending collapse.

The 'Belief' effort by Aircel seems to be on similar lines - an intent to communicate to the consumers to have faith and belief in the brand.

Age-old belief

The industry has witnessed several campaigns on the idea of belief over the past few years. Nike is known to have exploited the belief platform, with the famous 'Believe in run campaign'. McCann Erickson's global campaign for Coca-Cola coaxed the consumer to 'Believe in a happier tomorrow'. Even Levis has used the 'Believe' platform for the 'Curve ID' campaign.

The New Haywards 5000 anthem, Hausla Buland, also focussed on determination and belief.

Sagar Mahabaleshwarkar

Sustained belief?

The industry feels that as a brand platform, Belief is not a bad concept, even though it is done to death.

Sagar Mahabaleshwarkar, national creative director, Bates, says, "When you ask the youth to believe, they do believe. It is a great platform to explore, but it has been used by various brands in the past, both nationally and internationally."

Mahabaleshwarkar feels that the campaign is well written and crafted. "It attempts to promote a philosophy," he says. He adds that for the first time, there has been a good use of a celebrity endorser in the campaign.

Prathap Suthan (aka Pat), chief creative officer, iYogi and founder, The Advisory finds the film to be well made. "The overall sombre mood blending into hope etc. has been captured well. But, why do I feel that the film is too painfully close to the truth, and overlaps the actuality of both the brand and its ambassador?

Suthan feels that there is a trace of despondency in the film. "I wonder if current users would like to know that their brand and its pride has been battered and bruised etc. Hope sure springs eternal, and it will only work when you have huge numbers and a critical mass to bank on. I am not too sure if Aircel has got that part of the iceberg story right."

Suthan also feels that in the light of a resurgent Airtel with its extremely popular and scaled up Har Friend Zaroori Hai campaign, this suddenly looks too small.

Prathap Suthan

"Consumers are fickle people, especially the younger mobile customers. They want things now. And they see it as their alter ego," he feels.

According to Suthan, the Aircel campaign doesn't catapult with radiance and speed and immediacy. "Which are more category hygiene factors. The message now is more like hang on, don't lose hope, we are getting our act together. Bold step though for a brand to allow consumers to infer a tinge of defeat and dullness. Yet why play to the gallery?"

Suthan finds the current Dhoni route is also pretty familiar. "While one can always say that it is true for Dhoni, and that the Indian team will flutter its flag again, a brand ambassador unfortunately reflects the state of the brand too. It is a two way osmosis that happens," he adds.

States Suthan, "Sure he has been their ambassador for a while. But suddenly the brand looks a little older, more mature, and while the young lad with the laptop and dongle attempt to infuse some balance, I don't think it works."

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