Aakriti Shrivastava

Airtel 4G's Open Challenge: Fast and Furious

The mobile network provider has released a campaign claiming to offer the fastest data service, as it launches 4G service across the country.

Bharti Airtel became the talk of the town as it announced the nationwide roll-out of 4G services on August 6, becoming the first network provider in the country to do so. An ad for the service was released on the same day too. 'The Airtel Challenge', as the name suggests, projects Airtel 4G as being the fastest network and throws open a challenge to existing data service providers. The ad has been created by Taproot Dentsu.

Designed as a face-off battle, the ad places two competitors (women) on a building's rooftop amidst an excited crowd, where they perform various mobile data related tasks like web searches and downloads. One contender is significantly quicker than the other because she uses the Airtel 4G network, as discovered later in the ad. It ends with a challenge for the viewers, proposing that if they find a swifter network, their mobile bills will be paid for, life-long.

Airtel 4G's Open Challenge: Fast and Furious
Airtel 4G's Open Challenge: Fast and Furious
Talking about the look of the ad, Agnello Dias, chairman and co-founder, Taproot Dentsu, says, "We went for this aesthetic because we wanted a fresher look; to walk the line between very real and very fresh."

On being asked why the ad only highlights speed and not pricing, he says, "We had to choose one and, over several rounds of discussions, it was felt that speed would be the key differentiator for the launch phase."

While the print leg of the campaign is ongoing, through advertisements in daily newspapers, the main video is available in three cuts, a 100-seconder for the digital medium and two 65-second spots for TV. Besides, the campaign is also being executed through radio and point-of-sale advertising. The creatives have been executed by Equinox Films.

While the ad gives a tier II town feel with connected rooftops and other visual aspects, it is actually shot in Old Delhi, near Jama Masjid. Manoj Shroff, producer, Equinox Films, says, "We wanted to give it a modern setting, in a quaint sort of place. In fact, the idea was to make it look like a Brazilian town."

The service will be available in 14 circles and 296 towns. The company has also tied up with online marketplace Flipkart to provide an Airtel 4G sim with a 4G phone purchase and with mobile giant Samsung.

Gopal Vittal, MD & CEO, Bharti Airtel, India & South Asia, said on the launch of the service, "At Airtel, the customer is at the heart of everything we do and, therefore, we first opened our 4G network to some of them for their valuable feedback. With the help of the feedback received from the beta launches, we have now built India's first commercial 4G network that will make high-speed mobile broadband a reality."

Vodafone, another major player in the telecom sector, has, meanwhile, halved the rates for its 3G service, post Airtel's 4G announcement. The brand has also released a commercial for the scheme.

Bold Move?

Airtel 4G's Open Challenge: Fast and Furious
Airtel 4G's Open Challenge: Fast and Furious
Sudarshan Banerjee, director and managing partner, Utopeia Communicationz, opines that while the execution of the ad is good, the narrative fails to emphasise on an important aspect. "'Lifetime mobile bill free' is a large proposition, but doesn't come through strongly. Mobile bills still burn a hole in pockets and as the ad tries to cater to the non-metro folk, such a claim should have been played up," he says.

Mahuya Chaturvedi, managing partner, Cogito Consulting, FCB Ulka, feels that the brand fails to provide enough incentive to consumers to switch to 4G. "The ad is unidirectional; focussing on the speed and the challenge, and does not talk about how 4G technology can be transformational to lives. As a consumer, I do not feel that I am missing out on a lot by not using 4G," she comments.

She adds that a brand that can show the difference this already hyped technology will make, will lead the category.