The new Airtel campaign ‘Har ek friend zaruri hota hai’ has been heralded as the next big thing in advertising. Within a few days of its launch, the jingle was on everyone’s mind and facebook walls. An ad hasn’t attracted this much attention since the popular Happydent ‘Muskura le’ commercial. We have consumers and ad gurus swooning to both the catchy tune and the sheer brilliance of this ad. This should be great news for Airtel which was recently drowned out by the raging popularity of Vodafone’s zoozoos. Let’s take a look at why it won’t be music to Airtel’s ears in the long run. A 100 second ad, it takes you through the various verticals of friendship for the first 95. Only in the last five seconds is Airtel mentioned, probably as an afterthought. That too, with a dull “Aur har friend se connected rakhe airtel”. It all sounds good but an antiquated MTNL landline manages to pull that off too, despite having a network more lethargic than its employees. One can even achieve the same paradigm using a tin can telephone. What, then, is Airtel doing to keep friends better connected? Not much, other than creating theme songs for them. A claim needs to be backed by facts. Perhaps complementing the ad with a surge in network coverage or value added services would have helped Airtel seal the deal. Unfortunately, lack of such add-ons make the campaign just a futile feel good exercise. All that the consumer takes from the ad is a warm fuzzy feeling, which is not incentive enough to go out and buy an Airtel sim or switch using MNP. Only a few easily impressionable young minds might make the switch. According to David Ogilvy, a good advertisement is one which sells the product without drawing attention to itself. Airtel has managed to do the complete opposite of this. Advertising should be a medium of information rather than entertainment.
Vodafone, on the other hand, has always struck the right balance by establishing an emotional connect and backing it up with related services. Every single ad has had a feature to sell. ‘The little things you do’ campaign showed the heart-warming friendship of two girls who helped each other out in all ways possible. Vodafone promised to offer consumers a similar experience through deals and discounts all year long on Vodafone Delights. The ‘Happy to help’ campaign featuring the adorable Vodafone pug was another runaway hit. The pug fetched socks, licked stamps, chased buses to emphasise on Vodafone’s Customer Care, guarded a tent throughout the night to show Vodafone’s 24x7 support and followed its owner around every corner to boast of Vodafone’s 3000 new stores. The phenomenon called Zoozoos needn’t even be talked about. The campaign generated insane curiosity between young and old alike. Each and every ad left the viewer in splits along with information about a value added service. Vodafone’s latest campaign, like Airtel’s, revolves around friends, making some wonder if it’s a direct response. Whatever be the case, Vodafone packs a punch with its Low Balance services. The concept bases itself on the hallowed Indian tradition of borrowing from neighbours. One can now borrow or lend talktime from a fellow Vodafone subscriber for a very nominal deduction. If your friend is too stingy to transfer some of his balance to you, you can pester him with missed calls even with zero balance until he calls you back. By this, Vodafone is not connecting just telephone calls, it’s connecting hearts, connecting friends. So between Airtel’s high recall value promotion and Vodafone’s service based promotion, which one emerges as a winner? Both have their own advantages. You can avail of both using Vodafone’s services to lend and borrow balance while humming ‘Ek teri kadki me sharing kare, aur ek tere budget me sneak in kare’.