In a category where the only way one vendor can differentiate itself from the other is through distinct communication, Vodafone clearly emerges the winner. Vodafone stands for outstanding advertising even as its services enthrall or disappoint customers just the way its rivals do. In terms of product or service offerings, most telecom services brands have little room to prove their superiority, as all of them have more or less similar propositions for customers. Vodafone has built a distinct image for itself in the category through clutter breaking, intelligent and heart warming advertising. From the use of the pug to creating the animated Zoozoos and also, getting Bollywood actor Irrfan, Vodafone’s advertising has caught immediate attention and boosted the brand’s recall and connect with customers.
This year, the Zoozoos made a comeback during the Indian Premier League (IPL). The brand mascots had to apprise customers about the different products and services offered by Vodafone and they chose to do so by copying popular television concepts. For instance, one of the ad films promoting the service provider’s ‘choose your number’ service featured a dance reality show starring the Zoozoos. After many attempts, one of the participants manages a score of 10 from each of the three judging Zoozoos and the tagline announces: ‘Get the number you want’.
Vodafone is also known for taking tactical advantage in its advertising. When Loop Mobile was directed to close operations, Vodafone immediately reached out to the 3 million subscribers left adrift in Mumbai. The company put up full page ads in mainstream newspapers speaking of its free porting facilities and attractive introductory offers to entice the Loop customers.
It has also tried to step up its post paid service called ‘Vodafone Red’ through a series of ads done by Ogilvy & Mather. The first of the films showed a musician who is unable to impress the crowd. The next day, he is seen at the same location with a contraption of several instruments in place of one. The instruments make a medley of music that the crowd enjoys. The brand demonstrated in a breezy manner just how Vodafone Red is many good things rolled into one. It offers the benefits of voice, text and data services all in one plan, with a relationship manager to boot. Vodafone is today the second largest telecom company in terms of subscriber base. It reported 11.4% growth in revenues for the first half of the fiscal year at Rs20,641.9 crore. The company reported a subscriber base of 174 million customers for the six months ending September 30, an increase of 11.8% over the same period last year. Vodafone’s rural customer base was 92 million for the period—53% of total customer base.
Vodafone has also begun a unique concept called “angel stores” staffed entirely by women. These stores currently operate in Agra, Ahmedabad, Bhubaneshwar, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Haryana, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kerala, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, Mysore, Pune, Shillong, Vadodara and Rajkot.
Ronita Mitra, senior vice president- brand communication and insights, Vodafone India said that their focus was on communicating differentiated propositions that resonated with core needs of customers. “Whether it was the IPL campaign around communicating a range of propositions that help us deliver a superior customer experience or the launch of Vodafone Red which is a dedicated, compelling proposition for the post paid consumers, the emotional connect that each creative has with the consumer ensures a strengthening of the affinity that consumers have with Vodafone,” she said. Apart from the IPL, Vodafone has also associated itself with many other sports properties in order to build its brand connect with customers in tier two and three towns. A lot of these sports are played at the grass root level such as the Vodafone Sirmur Cup (Polo-Rajasthan), GFDC Rising Stars Football Festival (Goa), the Indian Badminton League and the Vodafone GFDC Rising Stars Football Festival. “Given our large customer base, engagement and affinity building is a critical part of our strategy. Our association with IPL is a key lever that we leverage to engage with customers. Building local connect has also been our focus in local markets. We have done this through our own properties like the Vodafone Cycling Marathon in Bangalore or theVodafone Agomoni in Kolkata.” Shripad Nadkarni of MarketGate Consulting says that the brand is the pick for 2014 because of its sheer consistency in a world where change has damaged many brands. Professor Arvind Sahay from IIM also says that Vodafone is an ever-green player and one to be reckoned with.