Airtel: On the strength of a rupee

By Rashmi Menon , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | September 02, 2013
With the increasing penetration of smartphones, Airtel's latest campaign emphasises on economical data usage.

In a bid to promote data usage, Bharti Airtel has kick-started a campaign that is an extension of its earlier campaign launched a few months ago. Both campaigns highlight the brand's economic data package offerings and indicate the increasing penetration of smartphones in the country.

The latest campaign, Re 1 Entertainment Store, consists of four films, which have been conceptualised by Taproot India. The situations in the films promote Airtel's 'Re 1, friendship free' proposition in accessing smartphone features such as e-mail, Facebook, songs and videos. In other words, the consumers can use any of the mentioned services at Re 1 per day. The intention is to encourage first time internet users. The features are compatible with more than 5,500 mobile handsets including feature phones, with 35,000 videos on offer. According to the brand, 'Re 1 Entertainment Store' is the result of the positive feedback that it received from its previous campaign.

The 'Music' film shows a young man playing antakshari with a mute girl, who downloads songs on the mobile when it's her turn. In the 'Video' film, two girls pitted against each other for a karate competition become friendly over a Hanuman Chalisa video.

Interestingly, the e-mail and Facebook TVCs allude to the mass penetration of smartphones and data usage. While a lift man asks a hip young man if he could connect with him on Facebook, the 'E-mail' film shows a formally dressed woman unable to access the mail on her mobile phone because it is drenched. She is surprised when a middle class homemaker sitting nearby offers her phone, which has the facility. The TVCs have been produced by Equinox Films.

In its summer campaign, which was launched in April (and went on till June), Airtel had introduced its Re 1 proposition for video viewing, perhaps with the intention to encourage video viewing on mobiles.

The current campaign will be supported by outdoor and digital media as well.

In June, Airtel and its competitor Vodafone cut down the 2G data plans in certain circles. The campaigns could have been released to woo the customers to use the brand's data plan.

According to a study carried out by Nielsen last year, there are 27 million smartphone users in the urban regions of the country. The study also reveals that smartphones are extensively used for social networking (22 million users) and online searches (24 million). Also, about 16 million users download videos.

Another study conducted by Strategy Analytics, an independent research company, this year, states how India has become the third largest smartphone market in terms of volume.

Menaka Menon

Ravinder Siwach

Smart move?

Menaka Menon, head, strategic planning, Draftfcb Ulka Bengaluru, feels the Re 1 offering seems too good to be true, given how the rupee has been falling through the floor recently. On a serious note, Menon says, "The Airtel campaign does a good job of democratising smartphone features and services and makes them available to everyone across the board. Given that there are smartphones aplenty at entry level price points, an offering of this kind was but required."

The stories resonate well, albeit with stereotypes, to drive the message that these services are now available for everyone. However, Menon doubts whether brand Airtel stands out well enough in the campaign. "The brand doesn't make a strong impact. One could just as easily, at the end of a couple of viewings of the TVCs, confuse the films to be from any another service provider," she opines.

Ravinder Siwach, executive creative director, McCann Erickson, isn't too thrilled with the campaign, as he liked the earlier campaign better. "Situations were fresher in that lot and were centred around the Re 1 proposition. The current campaign is trying too hard to bring in 'emotion' in to otherwise a very tactical offering," he says. Siwach found the Hanuman Chalisa ad film genuine and spontaneous, unlike the others.

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