Airtel: the reason-why is missing boss

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India is poised to become the smartphone hotspot with truck loads of players entering the fray. According to IDC, India witnessed the highest rate of growth – over 18% – in smartphone sales in Asia Pacific region during January-March 2014, outshining countries like China. And the CAGR is expected to be in the region of 40% over the next five years. The consumer is spoilt for choice when it comes to handsets too; affordable price points are also driving this adoption. It is all apparent when you see those big Android & Windows phones being whipped out to take pictures in malls & other public places or catch a glimpse of youngsters watching streaming videos. Availability of affordable 3G is fuelling such data usage.

In this context, I thought it was smart of Airtel to arrogate the ‘the network for smartphones’ platform. It is another matter that the gap between claim and delivery is perhaps the widest in the telecom category. Almost all smartphone users are likely to dissatisfied with speeds on their telecom network. Be that as it may, it helps for a telecom brand to be seen as the go-to brand for smartphones. It has been attempted by MTS too with their ‘internet baby‘ campaign.

All of this is still in the claims space. No one is presenting a specific, credible argument as to why only their network is best suited for smartphones or why their network is superior. In the absence of a specific, ownable claim, the pressure rests on the advertising to create preference, likeability etc. The MTS internet baby ad too simply made a claim in an entertaining way, without specifics.

The creative execution to support the ‘smartphone network’ is that of a husband-wife who happen to be subordinate-boss at the office. The ad has become a topic of discussion on social media, with many dissing it. Sample comment from my Facebook feed: this is insulting to men, women, female bosses, marriage, team spirit, corporate management, copywriters , clients, script writers, people who have brains, people who have phones and people who don’t have therapists. The ad became a topic of discussion on Twitter too.

My take on the ad: forget the angle of ‘boss who has to end up going home and cooking for her husband’ angle or the ‘multi-tasking lady boss’ angle, the ad simply does not provide a strong, unique, ownable reason-why for the claim of the network made for smartphones. The ability to make video calls is a lame, tenuous link to the claim, in my opinion. And that’s where the ad fails to connect. Rest of the stuff – wondering how spouse can work in the same team, she having to cook a meal etc., is secondary. As someone mentioned on Twitter: the boss could have simply ordered food for the team.

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  1. Whilst I agree to your POV and other comments; as a lay person most of us look at the first emotion part of the entire delivery. Will it make me use video, or rant/rave are all secondary. Does it make me feel good, bring a smile, remember some incident, make me pick up the phone is what the emotional connect is about. But, unfortunately there are too many MBAs, Brand and knowledgeable people of Twitter & FB who will dissect. On the plus side, there will be 30X or 50X people who will connect.

    • hi Anaggh, thanks for the comment. Agree that common man does not dissect an ad and looks for that one immediate emotional reaction. In this case, even if one thing is remembered I am not sure it will be anything to do with the feature advertised – it will be about the boss as wife story.

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