Zip Telecom, a subsidiary of Mauritius-based Zip Global Network, is on a major brand-building spree. The idea is to popularise its branded pay phone system Zip Fone as an alternative advertising medium. As a first step in this direction, the company has hired the services of Mumbai-based advertising agency Ambience D'Arcy to create hype around the brand and convince media planners about the potential of the Zip Fone. Second, it has undertaken a major revamp of it back-end operations to boost the franchisee network and facilitate faster response.
With a media budget of Rs 2 crore, the company kicked off an advertising campaign in October this year. Top on its agenda is a television promotion aimed at spreading its message across the country. With its efforts in place, the company hopes to earn Rs 40 crore as advertising revenue by next year against Rs 5 crore it earned in the current year.
The Zip Fone brass is pretty optimistic about the medium's potential.
Currently, Zip Fone provides several advertising options at its booth: a backlit acrylic header, a six-inch Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) screen, pre-programmed dial buttons and a panel. According to the company, the 15-inch by 12-inch backlit header, known as Zip Contact, is available to advertisers for Rs 800 per month. Currently, Essar Cellphone is advertising on Zip Contact. The LCD screen, called Zip Screen, can run 24 scrolls of 10 second each. Companies could have their banners and wobblers on the Zip Fone booth for Rs 5,000 per month. The company is also looking at joint marketing exercises with its clients.
"We have several blue-chip clients such as Colgate, Castrol, Cadbury's, ITC, GPI, Nokia," points out Harish Bijoor, chief operating officer, Zip Telecom. The medium is exploding and the company has started offering clients customisable packages. "We bring to the table brand management inputs for clients who want our team to participate in the ideation process," he adds.
Bijoor feels the Zip Fone, rather than replacing the mass media, could act as a tool for facilitating the media-multiplier effect. "You need a minimum of three different media to make an impact in the mind of the consumer," he says. Currently, Zip Fone has 16,700 phone connections across 17 towns. It aims to have 50,000 phone connections soon.
Meanwhile, at the back-end, the company has kicked off the ZAT (Zip Adopt Ten) initiative, aimed at bolstering its spread in the market as well as its customer service. According to Bijoor, "ZAT is an initiative wherein I have had 400 of my employees to adopt 10 Zip Fone franchisees each on a permanent basis. The idea is to offer better supervision and customer service from the company. I have dubbed myself as the chief ZAT evangelist from the company as I believe such initiatives are best run from the top. Every employee here is a ZAT evangelist."
ZAT is an attempt to bundle marketing and HR initiative to keep a finger on the pulse of the 4,000 Zip franchisees. According to the company it helps in keeping a tab on the market, get prompt feedback and plan solutions. Above everything else, it involves the employee in the business of the company.
The company is open to the idea of working with, what it calls, 'synergistic' partners. "I believe media organisations must work synergistically. It's time the non-conventional media ganged up and battled the might of the conventional channels," says Bijoor.
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