Airtel Marketing Campaign
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GOURAB KUNDU MARKETING MANAGEMENT GROUP PROJECT 3 FMG XVIII A FORE SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT
Kaun Banega Crorepati has become a phenomenon in India. The show brought a paradigm shift in the manner in which Indian Television operates. The same can be said with Indian Idol, the first of its kind reality show in India that gave an ordinary Indian the chance to taste instant stardom. You might be wondering as to what is the connection between the two. Well, it is Airtel. It was the leading sponsor of both these stalwarts. But the business acumen of Airtel is reflected by the fact that it did not stay as just a „sponsor‟ like many of the others. It created cohesion of the brands. It was much more than a strategic alliance. Since 2004, when Kaun Banega Crorepati was launched, three seasons have been aired. Airtel has been a lead sponsor for all seasons. The Airtel subscribers were given a special chance to directly enter KBC. In fact participation to the show was only restricted to the Airtel subscribers and BSNL/MTNL landline users for the first couple of seasons. With Indian Idol, the Airtel subscribers got an exclusive chance to enter the show.
About Airtel Airtel comes to you from Bharti India Limited, India‟s largest integrated and the first private telecom services provider with a footprint in all the 23 telecom circles. Bharti Airtel since its inception has been at the forefront of technology and has steered the course of the telecom sector in the country with its world class products and services. The businesses at Bharti Airtel have been structured into three individual strategic business units (SBU‟s) - Mobile Services, Airtel Telemedia Services & Enterprise Services. The mobile business provides mobile & fixed wireless services using GSM technology across 23 telecom circles while the Airtel Telemedia Services business offers broadband & telephone services in 95 cities and has recently launched India's best Direct-to-Home (DTH) service, Airtel digital TV. The Enterprise services provide end-to-end telecom solutions to corporate customers and national & international long distance services to carriers. All these services are provided under the Airtel brand.
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The Communication Campaign: Airtel Airtel is undoubtedly a pioneer in the various communication campaigns that it employs to market its products. Bharti Airtel is the number one telecom operator in India and pledges best quality service to all its customers. The company is a market leader and hence, is an innovator to the hilt. It has employed various communication campaigns to highlight the unique offerings from its stable. To think of it, we all accustomed to the entourage of advertisements of Airtel both in the print and television media. But the company does not stop there. It has really done wonders to itself by foraying into the other not so hackneyed forms of communication. Pause for a while and think over it… how many of us have sat through a cricket match without seeing the Airtel Logo as a sponsor in some or the other respect. The publicity hoarding alongside shows the acknowledgement of Indian Idol and Kaun Banega Crorepati for the success of Airtel.
When communicating a brand is being discussed, what can be more indicative than the tag line of the brand? “Express Yourself” epitomizes communication hence, is able to establish an instant connect with the audience at large. The clarity in communication is striking. Airtel is a mobile telecommunications provider. Hence, it has to encourage people to talk.
Communication Campaign Tools
Airtel uses an array of communication tools to bring its products to the forefront. Being a service industry quality of service is of paramount importance and Airtel seeks to reinstate its pledge towards giving the best to its customers. Though Airtel has the breakthrough technologies and modern amenities; it prefers to communicate on the various features of its products. All the modes employed have a strong undercurrent of “Indianness”. Perhaps, this makes Airtel stand a league apart from competition. Every advertisement seeks to establish an emotional connect with the audiences.
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The various communication campaign tools employed by Airtel are enlisted as below: Advertising: Airtel spends Crores of rupees every year in advertisements in all avenues of mass communication. While radio happens to be the cheapest means of mass communication, the most widely preferred mode is that of television. Though advertising on Television via commercials is the costliest prospect among all the modes of communication. Print media is also used by Airtel to aggressively advertise its products/offerings. Advertisements serve a dual purpose for the company. Namely: It creates Pervasiveness, allows Airtel to be in the eyes of the audience all the time. Even though the audience is not obligated to pay heed to the advertisements, the high creativity quotient of the Airtel Ads makes it virtually impossible for the audience to turn a blind eye to them. Various market experts have rated the Airtel ads very highly. It also amplifies the message that Airtel wants to send to the audiences. The Ads are very high on the use of imagery and music. In fact the catch tune of Airtel is among the most recallable tunes in India. The genius of the Oscar winning music director A. R. Rahman is the man behind the catchy tune. Advertisements either induce the customer to go for the product immediately or help retaining the brand name in the customer‟s mind which would help in taking decision when a time comes to choose the product. Airtel is amazing when it comes to ads. Airtel advertises more on its brand and its values than its products and services. Most ads just establish the value and beliefs of Airtel than establishing its services like mobile, telephone, or broadband. The trust factor of Airtel amplifies greatly with the caliber of its brand ambassadors. The likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Shah Rukh Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Vidya Balan, A R Rahman have all been brand ambassadors of Airtel at some point or the other. One of the key reasons for the lasting impact of the Airtel ads is the reinvention of the content displayed. The recent campaign of “Barriers Break When People Talk” having the portrayal of two separate instances, One between a newly married husband and wife (played by Abhay Deol and Raima Sen) second between a father and a son (played by Sreyas Talpade) have surely made a lasting emotional effect in the minds of the audiences. The romantic advertisements between Vidya Balan and Madhavan have won accolades all over. Essentially the theme of all the advertisements is to establish a connect with the audience and thereby with the present and the prospective service users.
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Public Relations and Publicity: With the increase in competition, the stake of credibility of any company is the highest. It is even more important in the case of the service Industry. A few write-ups by some renowned newspapers and magazines for or against a company can drastically influence the brand equity of that company. As established by now, Airtel is a maverick of sorts in product communication. It has most definitely made great inroads into the avenues of Public relations and Publicity. PR serves a three way objective for Airtel. It helps in increasing the credibility of Airtel as a brand. It also creates a certain sense of aura around the Airtel products, clearly underlining the fact that they are a cut above the rest. PR is a potent communications tool to catch some buyers off-guard who have an aversion in trusting the credibility of the Television Commercials. Some of the key PR and publicity planks employed by Airtel are as follows: The tagline of Airtel, „Express Yourself‟ is extremely well portrayed in all its campaigns. The recent collection of articles that Saif Ali Khan wrote in the Times of India for a week or so to essentially promote Airtel Digital TV was highly innovative and grabbed many eyeballs. Sales Promotion: Companies generally use sales promotion tools to draw a stronger, quicker audience response to the products. The objective of this mode of communication is primarily to enhance the communication between the audiences/customers and the company so that the prospect of future customers is maximized. Sales promotion also acts a source of incentive to all prospective customers to try the product. It also passes a passive invitation to the customers to try the products. Airtel is in a strategic alliance with various mobile stores in India. Infact there are over 500 Airtel Stores across India. The objectivity behind these stores is to increase the base of potential customers. As an example, with every new mobile phone that is brought in The Mobile Store, an Airtel GSM is gifted for free. Every day and across the various shopping malls in india, Airtel organizes promotional events. All this is done to attract the youth. Since, in India today, the youth constitutes over half the country‟s total population.
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Events and Experiences: These are a more subtle form of communication. Herein, the indirect/implicit mode of campaign is adopted. Companies generally look at these avenues as vital means of brand building as well a good mode of selling the products. The objectives served by the above are primarily to involve the audiences. Ideally, when an event has the audience engrossed, a heightened level of emotional connect is created. Thus, an involved audience, engulfed with relevant events and experiences is prone to develop a liking for the parameters associated with the event. Airtel is a pioneer in being a part of events and experiences. Indian Idol, Cricket, KBC, among many are examples. Airtel also sponsors various tournaments and events, which implicitly help promote the sales of Airtel. The Airtel Delhi Half Marathon is also an example. Direct and interactive marketing: Ideally the objectives of direct and interactive marketing are to use customized, up-to-date and an interactive mode of communication campaign. Airtel uses the above strategy so that a two way purpose can be served. Firstly, it helps in drastically decreasing post purchase dissonance. Secondly, it facilitates word-of-mouth publicity. Airtel seeks to give its customers a very high quality after sales service, this helps the company retain potential customers and also penetrate newer markets. It keeps the customers up-to-date about the various new schemes and promotions. The Airtel executives personally call the customer and potential customer for suggestions and upgradations. They also give special benefits to the existing customers which in turn drive their sales even more upwards. Word of Mouth Marketing: This mode of communication is perhaps one of the most effective ones. The objectives are to create a positive buzz about the quality of service provided by Airtel. In a service industry people play a very vital role. They can be messiahs as well as destructors. Brand equity is quite in there hands. Hence, credibility, timeliness of advice and personal connect go a long way in catapulting the importance of word of Mouth Marketing. The inroads that Airtel has made into the Indian rural market is largely attributed to this mode of communication. In fact, as a general observation, while buying a mobile connection, the inputs of the local vendor is sought and many-a-times they can cause all the difference. The marketing strategy of Airtel has a well defined clause for the vendors and this goes a long way in establishing the goodwill of the brand. This goodwill eventually translates into sales.
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Target Audiences: A target audience is the primary group of people that something, usually an advertisement is aimed at appealing to. A target audience can be people of a certain age group, gender, marital status etc. (ex: teenagers, females, single people, etc.) Without knowing the target audience, a company's advertising and the selling efforts can become difficult and very expensive. A Target Audience can be selected on the basis of following parameters: Age Location (where they live) Gender Marital Status Bharti airtel has a huge customer base in India. They basically target customers on the basis of age and occupation. Some of the types of telecom communications provided by Airtel are:
Prepaid connections: Age-18-25(college going students) Post paid connection: Working people (age> 25)-middle income-higher income group SMS schemes: 15-24(college students) Special plans: a specific group (Special 5) Prepaid connections: Airtel basically targets college students for these connection but many people whose age is greater than 25 also take this connection. So they are secondary audience. Post paid connection: they target working people but many house wife and college going students use this connection. SMS schemes many aged people use this feature but they are not targeted by company.
Secondary target audience Secondary audience is the area of the population that one can identify and target, but does not hold the same significance (in size) when compared to the primary (core) demography.
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The message strategy of AIRTEL: The message strategy and the creative execution of the message strategy of the company has to be analysed over the time. It is dynamic and keeps changing over the years. The change in the tag line, logo and the celebrities endorsing the products have changed over the years tells us about the changing perceptions of the market by the company over the years.
"In a service industry like telecom, people live a brand 24X7. It's all about experience; and for Airtel, brand =customer experience" - Rajan Mittal, Joint Managing Director, Bharti Tele-Ventures Ltd.
“Power to keep in touch” (1995) This era saw the beginning of mobile communication in India. Every mobile handset would cost as high as Rs. 45,000. Only the elite in society that could afford to keep mobile phones. Hence, the tag line 'Power to keep in Touch' designed to make the user feel 'in control i.e. be powerful'. The logo was coloured black, in uppercase and with bold lettering, all signifying power. It positioned the brand in premium category aimed at elite class of society, more as a lifestyle brand. Airtel decided that the brand should always demonstrate its leadership–be it in network, innovations, offerings, services and capitalize on the first mover advantage. To keep in sync with the target audience, it sponsored games like Golf. The reasons for changing the „Power to Keep in Touch‟ tagline are as follows: Now, cellular service operators could drop their prices and target new customer segments. As the category developed with prices going down sharply, Airtel began talking to a wider spectrum of potential users. This gives the birth to the new Tagline. This was also a time when customers needed to be educated; interest levels were high, but the customers' exposure to the cellular world was limited. Airtel took out full and half-page ads in newspapers, answering queries like "what is roaming?", "what is coverage area?" and "how to make international calls"
“Touch Tomorrow” (1999) Airtel started talking to new segments of customers by positively positioning and establishing itself as a brand that improved the quality of life. The new campaign was launched to facilitate entry into new markets. This new market was essentially the mass market. A new logo for Airtel was devised. It was in red, black and white colours with „Airtel‟ enwrapped in an eclipse. The logo were indicative of the core values of the brand: Leadership, Performance and Dynamism. The reasons for changing the „Touch tomorrow‟ tagline are as follows:
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It started to look from a regional level to pan India position. To become an Indian leader, Airtel needed to change its tagline.
“Live Every Moment” (2002) In 2002, Airtel signed on music composer A R Rahman and changed its tune to "Live every moment": Rahman's signature tune for Airtel has transformed musical advertisements for ever. This strategy was launched to capture the imagination of the customer. The tagline denotes that each and every person in India lives every moment (emotions, feelings etc.) of life. And Airtel helps in doing so. The focus was on the endless possibilities of technology to make life good and advertising became twopronged: a product-driven communication that showcased new offerings like the Magic prepaid card, and an emotional communication that showed younger people.
“Express Yourself” (2003) 'Express Yourself' was successfully launched taking the ownership of the entire space of telecommunication and strengthening the emotional bond that Airtel had established with its customers over the years. It highlights the capability of Airtel in terms of performance and network coverage. This campaign was launched in regional languages as well. Airtel also modified its logo to give it a more energetic and younger look. By this time, the emotional angle was predominant it was a stark, black and white imagery that could stand out in what was becoming a highly commoditized, crowded market.
Airtel seems to have consciously decided to go for the belly of the market and aggressive market expansion, while its major competitors seem to be targeting relatively more sophisticated consumers (as in the case of Vodafone). There isn't a great deal of differentiation in terms of pricing, services, schemes and so on, but there are differences in approach. Overall, Airtel is focused on functionality and efficiency while Vodafone is more focused on warmth and emotions. Even though one may contemplate the creativity quotient of the Vodafone advertisements a notch higher than that of Airtel, Airtel has the pie by the sheer force of uniform physical presence all throughout the country. Vodafone has a fragmented presence.
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Creative Execution of Messaging Strategy: Not many brands have been as creative and as an outcome innovative, in all the paraphernalia of communication tools as has been Airtel. The Airtel ads, be they on paper, on television, on a hoarding, or anywhere, have a distinct recognition and appeal. The gamut of advertisements Airtel has used seem to have maintained a specific genre among them. The advertisements have more often than not talked much more about the values than the product or the service. Or maybe the product and the benefit have always been very intrinsically knit into a value. The creativity in communication can also be associated to the innovative ways of seeking attention that Airtel has deployed, especially in outdoor advertising. Talking about broadcast advertising; it is generally acknowledged as the most effective and powerful advertising medium as compared to others. And Airtel has made full use of it. The ads range from depicting two boys playing football defying borders, to a couple [Film actors Madhavan and Vidya Balan] romancing sitting at home, from a person coming home to find 10s of celebrities waiting for him [Airtel TV], to a young lad going out of village staying connected to his father. All these ads were built on a story and a value perceivable by the viewer of these. Some were set in a far off no man‟s land, some in a village and others in an apartment‟s living room. Almost never has there been an ad where someone straightaway came and sung about the features of an Airtel connection. A common feature of all these ads has been the instantly recognizable signature tune composed by A R Rahman. Some of these ads have a sense of grandeur about them while others have family orientation, relations or innocent love as the underlying storyline. Airtel advertisements have always maintained an up market feel about them. They have never been loud and in a way they always have been very decent and simple. The celebrities also have always been suitably chosen for each of these advertisements depending upon the image of themselves thy have created in common public. To add to all of this a very catchy slogan always goes along with these ads. Examples would be,” Express yourself”, “Barriers break when people talk” and “Pyar ke beech mein kabhi dooriyan na aayen”, i.e “May there be no separation between love” and many more.
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The effect of these advertisements has been phenomenal. The inherent strength of the Airtel advertisements in this media comes from the creativity put into the advertisements that has let them create an identity of a provider who is dependable, reliable, and in a sense “THE BEST”. Very importantly, all these ads have been supplemented positively by giving the best service among all the networks. On the flip side, the weakness of this media is in the relative high cost and the number of irrelevant audience reached as Airtel has positioned itself as a comparatively premium product. The second important communication tool would be outdoor advertising. It is generally more suitable for brand enhancement and reinforcement that it is for a new product setting feet in the market. This is one area where Airtel has shown real innovation and at times out of the box thinking. Consider for instance making letter boxes in the shape of Airtel SIM cards, or lamp posts with the lamps enclosed in huge SIM cards. Or just picture a train running across cities and painted all over with the Airtel logo. It grabs instant attention. Airtel invests heavily in the outdoor advertisements in all the cities and towns across India. Its advertisements can be prominently seen across billboards and hoardings. These billboards often have stills that remind of the latest Airtel ads being run on television. They are an efficient way of constantly reminding of the value enforced by the TV commercial. The main advantage is the cost effectiveness as compared to TV, but they don‟t enjoy as high an exposure as TV ads do. Airtel puts in a lot of effort in its outdoor publicity. It is evident from the uniqueness in their ways of advertisement. As a method for its brand reinforcements, Airtel has often tied up with TV shows ranging from the biggest of all KBC, to Indian Idol and many others. Other than that it has been a major sponsor of many prominent cricketing events too. Airtel hasn‟t been a just a dormant sponsor whose name will be seen only in advertisements, but it has made sure its presence was felt during the on time of the show as well. For an example, whenever a contestant used to phone a friend in a KBC show, instantly the Airtel tune got on, the logo got displayed on the screen and the host very politely mentioned that the call is getting connected owing to the Airtel network. Such indirect form of advertisement has a huge advantage in the sense that the attention of the audience doesn‟t have to be solicited; instead the target customer is already all eyes and ears to the television. But the disadvantage crops up from the fact that almost negligible information can be conveyed about the product per say. But as the main objective of this form of indirect advertising is in reminding the audience about the presence of the brand, it solves its main purpose effectively.
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