Airtel: Conversation uninterrupted

By Saumya Tewari , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | May 02, 2014
Airtel takes a romantic route in its latest campaign to push its unlimited internet and night calling category and narrates the tale of a soon-to-be-married young couple.

Airtel has caught the pulse of young India with some well-received TV campaigns, including 'Har ek friend zaruri hota hai' and 'Jo mera hai voh tera hai'. The latest campaign from the telecom major moves away from the peppy friendly tone and narrates a romantic wee-hour conversation between a 'soon to be' married couple.

Santosh Padhi

The campaign aims to promote the 'Unlimited internet and calls at night' offer under Airtel's 'Night Store' ( product. Airtel has, so far, released two TVCs with different creatives executed by Taproot India. The first one is set in the backdrop of a pre-wedding function (mehendi or sangeet) with the female protagonist sporting henna and talking to her boyfriend, assuring that all the arrangements for their wedding are taken care of. When she asks if that is why he has called her so late, he responds by saying that it is his last conversation with her as 'girlfriend', with the wedding due for the next day.

The second film again shows a playful conversation between the same protagonists a night before their wedding, at the end of which she teases him and says 'Pehle tie pehna seekh le'.

Both TVCs star a young breed of actors, including Pulkit Samrat of Fukrey fame and Rakul Preet Singh who was the recently seen in the movie, Yaariyan. Clearly, the campaign is targeted at young couples in the age bracket of 15-30 years. The tone of the campaign is strategically tuned to appeal to the TG.

Interestingly, what catches our attention here is the campaign's uncanny resemblance to Vodafone's 'Made for First Love' ad. Does that mean this category in itself is limiting and poses a challenge for agencies to churn out refreshing ideas? Santosh Padhi (Paddy), chief creative officer and co-founder, Taproot India disagrees and explains, "The Vodafone ads were done in a 'Made For' series - made for Moms, made for first love and made for the young. The Airtel campaign gives you an insight on how an event (marriage) will bring about a change in a couple's life. It is a stage we are depicting and that is what sets us apart. I think the message is loud and clear - if you wish to talk all night long, Airtel gives you the best plans."

On the choice of a romantic tone, Paddy says, "It is all about a new way of showcasing the feeling of love and telling a human story that a large number of consumers can relate to. Airtel has always been a loved brand and its communication must speak to the consumer. Then only they'll consume what the brand has to offer."

The idea is to take human clichés, be it romantic or humorous, and weave memorable stories around it, he elaborates.

The campaign will be promoted on print and digital. The OOH leg of the campaign has already begun, with hoardings being put up across the country.

Bharti Airtel is a global telecommunications company with operations in 20 countries across Asia and Africa. Headquartered in New Delhi, the company ranks amongst the top four mobile service providers globally in terms of subscribers. In India, the company's product offerings include 2G, 3G and 4G wireless services, mobile commerce, fixed line services, high speed DSL broadband, IPTV, DTH, enterprise services including national and international long distance services to carriers. In the rest of the geographies, it offers 2G, 3G wireless services and mobile commerce. Bharti Airtel had over 259 million customers across its operations at the end of September 2012. It competes with global giant Vodafone, Reliance, Idea, BSNL, Aircel and Tata Docomo.

A Feel Good Attempt

Navin Theeng

Experts observe that this is a bright attempt by the brand to connect with consumers. Talking about the execution, Navin Theeng, group creative director, Cheil India says the ad film is sensitively directed with good dialogues and spot-on acting. "It leaves you with a good feeling," he says.

Theeng admits that the ad reminds one of Vodafone's 'Made for First Love' campaign, adding that it is something that the brand and the creative team would have 'wrestled' with. "The argument might be that the Vodafone ad shows actual passage of time while this implies it, but that's just missing the point," he notes.

For him, the commercial beautifully illustrates the difference in brand personalities of the two telecom rivals. He believes while the Vodafone ad could work in any geography, the Airtel ad brings alive "the strong Indian connect" it always has had.

"The voice of the brand is strong in this one and there's no mistaking that this is a good Airtel ad," he concludes.

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