Faced with the challenge of Airtel and Vodafone's well-established "data journeys," as the brand puts it, Idea Cellular needed to find a unique take on mobile internet. The brand did so by drawing on what it calls a "cultural insight" - that people in India readily con the ill-informed. Idea, through its new Ullu (Hindi for owl and in this context, fool) campaign, positions its data services as the solution to this cultural reality.
Therefore, the task before Arun Iyer, national creative director, Lowe Lintas & Partners, India, was to make mobile internet relevant to the masses. "The benefit had to be something that would help them on an everyday basis," he says, in the hope that armed with Idea's mobile internet, the masses will have easy access to information and will be less susceptible to being cheated.
These masses, says Sashi Shankar, chief marketing officer, Idea Cellular, still tend to shy away from using internet on their phones. "Our new campaign aims to further build on Idea's strong mobile internet service network, on a pan-India basis, and get non-users to enter the category by making them understand the utility and benefits of using internet on mobile," Shankar tells afaqs!.
The brand has been working towards spreading awareness about 3G and mobile internet services in India for the last three years, and claims to be the only mobile operator to offer a range of self-branded, affordable 3G smartphones to upgrade 2G users to 3G.
Shankar adds about the ads, "They show consumers who're not likely to be internet-savvy, including housewives, senior citizens, rural folk and users of feature phones."
What started with a teaser campaign, with the release of teaser banners and the 'Ullu jingle' on social media, is now a 360 degree campaign. The media mix includes TV (currently three films are on air), radio, outdoor, activation and digital (#Ullumatbano, a day-long Twitter campaign and a digital film).
For Amit Akali, former national creative director, Grey, the campaign is a fresh take on the advantage of the knowledge and information the internet has to offer. "Most of us love to pull a fast one, not realising that we can now get caught by the internet," he says, quoting a real life example to substantiate his point.
"A group of us were recently playing dumb charades when someone made up a movie name. Normally, a long debate would have followed where our friend would have insisted the movie was for real. This time, we just Googled it to prove it didn't exist!" he shares.
Akali puts this campaign in the same bucket as the brand's popular 3G Population Control and Walk and Talk commercials, as they all see Abhishek Bachchan giving out the brand message through a relevant, Indian insight.
While he likes the Ullu campaign, Akali finds some of the brand's previous ads more meaningful. "I prefer some of the non-Abhishek commercials they'd done last year, especially the ones that encouraged people to celebrate festivals irrespective of their religion (Sardar Santa and Muslim Diwali) or even the Telephone Exchange ones," he opines.
Information and knowledge have become like "weapons of equality" in recent times, he reasons, adding, "Even more recent is the way knowledge fuels the 'activist voice' of the people. So the currency and context of the insight used is great."
The campaign's message could also be interpreted as: Other telecom brands fool you with their prices/promise of quality/deals/offers but Idea won't fool you. And though the campaign is in fact a reaction to the current competitive scenario in the telecom market, it makes no reference to competition.
Razdan points out that Idea's "brand manifesto" has, over the years, been cast in the larger social context and speaking about competition blatantly would've reduced the scope of the thought. This is because brand Idea is consumed more as a philosophy or ideology than as a mere product, he opines.
About the execution, Razdan feels the "rough edges", in terms of casting and overall treatment, add to the "common man's perspective" angle.