Today we have 70-mn plus subscribers

Written by Malabika Sarkar | Malabika Sarkar | Updated: Jun 2 2009, 06:50am hrs
Harit Nagpal, director, marketing and new business, Vodafone Essar, talks to Malabika Sarkar about Vodafones communication strategy.

Being a late entrant so to speak and with a handful of earlier brand makeovers, what were the logistical issues before Vodafone in its early days in India

Establishing Vodafone as a brand as strong as Hutch was a big challenge for us. It was a mammoth exercise. The biggest difficulty was that all the merchandisepamphlets, posters and hoardingshad to be removed overnight from every nook and corner of the country. There were 1,700 places where our brands were tagged. People had a certain attachment with the brand. Creating a similar amount of empathy for another brand was big task.

If some day you were to go on television and say that Hutch is now Vodafone, its a big announcement and you need to prove it. There were around four lakh shops across the market, which had to be rebranded in seven days. To go to places and hunt for the stores that were branded as Hutch, identify them, measure them and rebrand them as Vodafone was a big deal. We also had to keep in mind that these rebranded stores should not be unveiled before the advertisement appeared on television.

I guess, we have been successful in taking the challenge. Today, we have 70 million plus subscribers.

Did you, at that point, think of doing away with the adorable kid and the pug from your ads

Why would we want to wipe out the pug and the kid We do not want to wipe out things that were good in the past. Customers were happy with our services. They loved the communication done by us. We wanted to offer them a sense of continuity. We witnessed the media debating the issuewill the pug stay or goover and over. Thats exactly when we decided that the pug has to stay.

We have so many other things to communicate beyond the network and customer service. Value added services (VAS), value for money.

We have got different devices to communicate those now.

How did the whole idea of the Zoozoos emerge

We needed to have four to five campaigns during the IPL, which should also be cost effective. If the same TVC appeared four to five times a day, people would switch channels. Thats how the whole idea of the Zoozoo clicked.

Building 30 creative animation would have taken three years. So we had to have something, which looked like animated characters but were not really animated. We had 15 to 20 options and we finally settled on these characters. We shot in one set over a period of 10 days.

We were able to create 30 short creatives. It served the purpose of building a new innovative campaign that was cost effective as well.

Will the Zoozoos be part of this tactical campaign or do you plan to take them forward for the strategic brand building

When we first introduced the pug, people liked it and then we took it forward. We have used animated characters for VAS. We have actor Irfaan Khan for conveying value for money. We have another device now that people have liked and there is no reason why we should not use it again.