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    Will Tata Docomo's oldman ad campaign persuade consumers to switch operators?


    Tata Docomo's oldman series helps the brand reinforce the 'pay only for what you use' proposition. But will it persuade consumers to make the switch?

    Before mobile telephony arrived on the Indian advertising scene, fast-moving consumer goods and cola ads captured consumer imagination. Telecom changed it all. So if Vodafone's Zoozoos stole the first round, Idea Cellular stole the thunder with 'What an Idea sirji'; and Airtel's 'Har ek friend zaruri hota hai' can lay claim to the crown of reigning champion. The arrival of a bevy of brands in a particular sector doesn't always translate into great advertising.

    Mobile telephony may just about prove an exception to that rule. Attempting to reinforce that trend is Tata Docomo — a relative late entrant into the crowded mobile telephony space — which has banked on cute animation and an immensely hummable tune to create a consumer connect. K S Chakravathy (aka Chax), national creative director, Draftfcb Ulka, the agency handling the brand since it’s launch, says that Tata Docomo was launched on a ‘pay per second’ platform.

    But the initial advertising did not focus on savings or value but on the brand's core value of fairness and transparency. The current campaign with brand ambassador Ranbir Kapoor as a wicked old man who is the very antithesis of what the brand stands for sets the tone for Tata Docomo's proposition of 'pay only for what you use.'

    As an eccentric, tight-fisted restaurant owner, Kapoor overcharges and under-serves to con gullible patrons, not unlike many mobile service providers who seemingly hoodwink unsuspecting users — or at least that's the unsaid but implied message of the commercial. Only a soothsayer will be able to answer whether these ads will actually spur users to gravitate towards an ostensible clean-as-a-whistle Tata Docomo.

    But then there's always Facebook. A cursory trawl of Facebook a week ago — when the IPL juggernaut was just beginning to roll — suggested that the Tata Docomo's 'old man' series was generating more 'likes' than the gaming ads for Vodafone and the afterlife Idea commercials with ambassador Abhishek Bachchan.

    Chax reckons the response has been "phenomenal." "Everything seems to have come together perfectly: Ranbir in this totally unexpected avatar; the talking points in terms of the specifics each ad highlights; the stories themselves," says the Draftfcb Ulka NCD. An ongoing brand track by Tata Docomo on some key parameters shows a consistent increase across the board with a particularly marked increase in 'the brand I would choose to switch to' criterion.

    "This campaign attempts to translate that into equivalent share gains by breaking the almost fatalistic inertia that is still keeping consumers tied to their current operators," says Chax.

    That Tata Docomo chose to pay the high price that IPL commands could be construed as the brand's ambition to enter the ring with Vodafone and Idea, both veterans of sorts in the 20-20 cricket tamasha. A recent tracker done by TAM Sports also shows Tata Docomo among the Top 3 commercials seen by viewers this IPL season. Lloyd Mathias, a former president, corporate monitoring group at Tata Teleservices (which has launched the Tata Docomo service), thinks the IPL will help Tata Docomo capture mind space.

    "Since it’s launch three years ago, the brand had spoken about its per second offering and that helped the brand stand out," he adds. However, he does add that after the launch of 3G and other value-addedservice Tata Docomo's advertising got a little diffused. The old man series has helped the brand return to its core proposition, says Mathias. In terms of execution too the old-man series can qualify as clutter-breaking and clear-cut in its message — attributes that have found favour with the viewer.

    But does this ad deserve to enter the advertising 'Hall of Fame'? Perhaps not. "This advertising has a better recall than other telecom brands advertising during IPL 2012, but it's not something that has a universal appeal. The film has a limited shelf life," says Manish Bhatt, founder director, Scarecrow Communications.

    But then advertisers have the IPL to thank. "Having multiple executions for an ad during IPL is a new format of advertising and telecom brands have used this platform in a good way to connect with consumers," says Mathias.
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    8 Comments on this Story

    SDas3128 days ago
    Docomo sux. It shouldnt waste money in costly ads. When it has costumers it should not lose them. It frequently does not deliver on promises. Remember when it came out in the papers with an unlimited internet scheme & got all the free publicity but the scheme wasnt available? Public is not going to be taken for a ride all the time
    Puneet3128 days ago
    The Ranbir Kapoor ad series with Docomo, is execellent and even beats that of airtel and idea. The purpose and subject is communicated very precisely to the target audience. My Best wishes to Chax.
    Ruchir3128 days ago
    Yes Docomo ads are really good ones... But Ranbir as such is not playing any major role in this... He even doesn't look like Ranbir... So any xyz person could have been used to feature as the old man... But yes, the ads are fantastic and really points out the poor services whcih other providers give through their wicked plans...
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