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Airtel: 'Second insight' on friendship

Almost a year after Airtel cracked the 'friendship insight', it has released a fresh ad campaign hinged on a new take on the same theme. This time around, the brand highlights how friendship is all about sharing.

Taking its friendship theme forward, telecom brand Airtel has released an ad campaign titled 'Jo mera hai woh tera hai', that conveys the new insight that friendship equals sharing.

Airtel New TVC

Crafted by Taproot India, the campaign has at its centre a film that has been released on TV (65 seconds) as well as online (105 seconds on YouTube). The picturisation is vibrant, peppy, colourful and pretty much bursting with youth, and the upbeat mood of the ad is complemented by an anthem that has started creating quite a buzz on the digital space.

Quick walk down friendship lane

Towards the end of 2010, Airtel launched the then new 'Dil jo chaahe paas laaye' campaign that was centred on its core message of 'relationships'. In mid-2011, the brand took this promise forward in its communication that leveraged its 3G offerings; the ads focused on internet on-the-go. Both these campaigns were created by JWT.

Then, in August 2011, the brand launched its 'Har ek friend zaroori hota hai' campaign that was created by Taproot. It positioned Airtel as an out-and-out 'friendship brand'. The task back then was to make the brand more contemporary and youthful. The insight used was that everyone has a different set of friends at a particular time in life, and technology and mobile phones connect a person to all of them. Since then, all of Airtel's campaigns have been inspired by the theme of friendship.

Earlier this year, taking the same thought forward, the brand rolled out a series of ad films introducing consumers to humorous characters that represent different types of friends. Over 20 ad films created by Taproot were released on TV and on the digital medium.

Bharat Bambawale
Agnello Dias

According to Bharat Bambawale, director, global brand, Bharti Airtel, the current campaign embodies the brand's "second insight on friendship", namely, that friendship is all about sharing.

However, friendship as a theme and the concept of sharing things with one's friends is not a new space for a telecom player to explore. Besides, given the larger theme of friendship that Airtel has owned for around a year, was it just a matter of time before the concept of sharing was explored by the agency - somewhat like an obvious insight just waiting to be executed?

Agnello Dias (aka Aggie), co-founder and chief creative officer, Taproot India, answers, "Friendship itself is obvious and telecom brands have touched upon friendship and sharing a million times before. It is the creative expression and execution that makes it cut through and spread across a mass popular base. The whole goal is to find something that is blindingly obvious and transmit it in a manner that engages and becomes popular enough for it to be on everyone's minds and lips."

Digital sharing

While no specific product feature is being highlighted in the campaign as yet, the fact that a large part of this 'sharing' is happening via the digital medium, is something the brand has acknowledged adequately. This has been brought out through the lyrics and picturisation of the film. At the end of the film, the VO (voiceover) says, 'Aur friendship ki sharing ko hamesha on rakhke -- Airtel internet' as the words 'Airtel Internet' appear as a super on the screen.

Bambawale says, "Friendship is enabled by technology and the internet. We share, connect and rekindle the same through the various social platforms via the internet, constantly. Today's youth share a 'relationship' with their families but they share their 'life' with their friends. Thus, the communication as well as the service has relevance for today's youth, first time adopters of technology and all digital natives at large."

However, one can't help but wonder that when removed from the context of digital, does the notion of 'friendship equals sharing' fall short? "The notion does not fall short but the extent to which it happens is highest online," responds Dias.

"For today's kids who have grown up in an online world and don't know any other, even if they have nothing to do together they do that 'nothing' online. When we were growing up we just shared play-time with our friends, had a few common interests and did some 'universally teenage' things. We never shared each other's lives '24 by 7' the way it is done today," he elaborates.

In fact, the campaign thought occurred to Dias when he was brainstorming with a team-member on how best to capture the extent to which our lives are shared online.

Besides TV and digital, the media mix of the campaign comprises outdoor, radio, print and cinema.

Does the insight work?

Overall, industry folk find the campaign engaging.

Minakshi Achan
Suraja Kishore

According to Minakshi Achan, co-founder, Salt Brand Solutions, Taproot has identified a nice, broad creative territory of friendship for Airtel and the fact that the agency finds new renditions of the same, time after time, is great.

Regarding the 'sharing angle', she feels that while it is a relevant and true insight, it doesn't really say saying anything new about friendship.

"Though friendship as a platform is hackneyed, 'Har Friend Zaroori' was a fresh new execution and it connected hugely with everybody. I'm not sure this one has the same currency as the first," she says.

Does the current campaign stretch the friendship theme too far? "Well," she says, "it is the brand's positioning and it does make sense to stick with it, but the execution is the same as the 'Har Friend Zaroori' film so it is a blind spot for me."

Will it work or not? "With the media weights on it, it will certainly be noticed," says Achan.

In the opinion of Suraja Kishore, national planning director, Publicis Ambience, the beauty of this campaign lies in the fact that it executes the obvious in the best possible manner. To him, the 'Har Friend Zaroori' campaign was like a montage of all the facets and nuances of friendship. And while the current 'sharing' campaign is not exactly a fresh insight, it extends the previous story forward.

Does the execution adequately convey the insight this time around? "Creatively, it very much seems like more of the same thing. Maybe the approach could've been new; perhaps a new way of expressing the insight," says Kishore. He however adds that every brand that has witnessed resonance with its audience through a previous, successful campaign is faced with this challenge both from a strategic as well as creative point of view.

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