4G Wars: Can Idea outshout Airtel and Vodafone with this new ad?

By Suraj Ramnath , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising
Published : June 10, 2016
In a new ad film, Idea Cellular explains why 4G is a big deal for Indians.

Well, 4G wars are as much about the communication as they are about the technology. It was Airtel that first launched 4G service in India with its TV campaigns promoting faster downloads of movies and songs, and recently, to promote its network's reach to remote places in India.

It was soon followed by Vodafone, which launched TVCs showing how Google maps can be useful and video calls can be a life-saver for fathers, sons, brothers, and even students, who are trying to learn a musical instrument via the network's 4G service.

It's now Idea Cellular's turn. The telecom brand from the house of the Aditya Birla Group has come up with its new TVC conceptualised by Lowe Lintas. The brand will further carry out outdoor and digital campaigns for its newly-launched 4G service.

Idea's new ad, too, promotes video calls, downloading speed, and watching live matches with the use of 4G.

So, what's the difference between the ads by Airtel, Vodafone, and Idea?

Idea seems to be focussing on how relevant 4G service is for an Indian.

There are instances in the ad where a bride is showing off her new dress to her friends through a video call, or friends who have queued up to get into the stadium to watch the match, and while waiting watch it live on their mobiles without missing any of the action. And, at the end of the ad, the instance when a plane is about to take off, a passenger downloads a movie within minutes so that he is not bored during his flight.

So, was there a challenge to make an ad that was different from Airtel and Vodafone since they had entered the market before Idea?

Sashi Shankar

Arun Iyer

Sashi Shankar, chief marketing officer, Idea Cellular, says, "We didn't look at it as a challenge. It is just that we wanted to communicate to our viewers when our network was ready since we have our own strategy in terms of coverage. And, in our case, we didn't want to roll out the campaigns before we rolled out the network. Once we were confident that we have rolled out sufficient and quality network, we decided to advertise."

He further adds, "We wanted to talk to people who are already on the internet and convey to them how using 4G will make their experience enjoyable. It is not designed for people who are not using the internet."

Arun Iyer, chief creative officer, Lowe Lintas, says, "While Airtel and Vodafone had launched, Idea had also launched its 4G on ground, but we were waiting until the time the network was up and running in many cities. One of the tasks was that we were talking to a slightly different audience from the one we normally talk to. In this ad, we are talking to people who have experienced the online world and are familiar with it."

Iyer further adds, "The thought that we were working on is that people have experienced 3G and people keep talking about how dramatically their life is going to change after moving from 3G to 4G. So, one of the things we hit upon is to say that it's a very small shift you are making, but it is going to make a big difference to your life. Going from a low-resolution video to a high-definition video is a big shift for people who have been online. We wanted to convey the thought of how the biggest small change is happening in this country at this point of time."

We asked our experts if it is a good idea

Mahesh Uppal, an independent telecom analyst, says, "Idea is late in the 4G business. Its chief competitors like Airtel and Vodafone already offer 4G services in some areas and have striking ad campaigns. Airtel highlights fast movie downloads and the spread of its network across India. Vodafone's focus is on how 4G could enrich personal and family moments and make them memorable."

Mahesh Uppal

Pramod Sharma

Talking about the Idea ad, Uppal says, "On the other hand, the Idea ad associates 4G with the lives of its most likely early users. Their profile is most likely to be: urban, aspirational, and young with some disposable income. This makes perfect sense. It connects 4G with exactly where its target audience will perhaps most miss it: a much-awaited sports event, a business trip, or a family occasion. With 4G, sports events will be that much livelier. A shopper can share key details to get useful feedback before emptying her wallet. The 4G speed is now sufficient to download a movie minutes before boarding and can make a long dull flight actually fun."

He further adds, "The idea is that 4G's extra speed may just be the 'extra' that makes the all-important difference. It will improve experience and enjoyment of occasions and activities that matter to the target user. Idea positions 4G as a more niche product than its rivals, who seem to target a more undifferentiated audience."

Pramod Sharma, executive creative director (West), Rediffusion-Y&R says, "It's a nicely executed ad, but lacks that big thought that normally Idea ads have such as population control, language and education, which drove conversations, as well as conversions. They left a big message and were impactful. Not sure if this piece of communication does that."

Have they got it right being a late entrant in the 4G race?

Uppal says, "I think Idea has pitched its TVC right. It avoids Airtel's oversell of 4G which is far from universally available. This does mean Idea will need to change track as 4G services become more widely available and cheaper to use."

Sharma says, "This ad scores better than the Vodafone and the Airtel ad. But, I think they could have pushed the pedal a bit more."

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