VODAFONE: The Most Envied Marketer

Posted on July 26, 2010 in Business and Economy

By Vishnu Raj:

Vodafone Essar, or just Vodafone as its better known, has been credited with a lot of accolades for its marketing strategies. Vodafone was the most admired brand in India in 2009, followed by the then leader Hindustan Unilever.

The Zoo Zoos marketing campaign won 3 awards at Asia Marketing Effectiveness Awards (2 golds & 1 silver). Vodafone won golds in ‘Most effective use of advertising’ & ‘Most effective use of interactive marketing’ & silver in ‘Best Integrated Marketing Campaign’; & before all this, it was the Hutch brand whose marketing idea was around the iconic pug, which was well received by the audience.

Kumar Ramanathan, Chief Marketing Officer, Vodafone Essar thinks the success of the Zoo Zoo campaign can be attributed to the strong creative synergies between O&M (Ogilvy & Mather) and Vodafone. O&M is the marketing agency for Vodafone.

According to the IPL association, Vodafone is the most recalled brand. Perhaps in today’s fight in the crowded telecom market, it’s very important to be the most recalled brand.

Vodafone ads were there during every major event & it also sponsored popular TV shows. This gained Vodafone the reputation of being featured in every big event. All the credit for this must go to its marketing agency O&M.

Let me take you through the journey of Vodafone ‘The Brand’.

It all started in the year 2007 when Vodafone acquired the controlling stake from Hutchison Telecom International Ltd. As on date, Vodafone Essar is owned by Vodafone 67% and Essar Group 33%. It is the second largest mobile phone operator in terms of revenue, right after Bharti Airtel, and third largest in terms of customers.

The expenditure on the rebranding exercise of transition from Hutch to Vodafone was somewhere around Rs. 300 crores.

After the ‘Happy To Help’ campaign during IPL1, the iconic pug was dumped, which made the marketing gurus wary of the strategy adopted by Vodafone. Then, Vodafone came back with the VAS (Value Added Services) campaign which was a hit & also stressed on the fact that Vodafone was developing the VAS, which contributes to a major chunk of its revenues.

The biggest success came during IPL2 with the Zoo Zoo campaign. It was a runaway hit.

It won accolades all over the world. The connect with the audience was instantaneous.

Not only the ads, even the Zoo Zoo merchandise was a rage among people especially the youth. The success of Zoo Zoo was the success of minimalism and simplicity.

Rajiv Rao, Creative Director of O&M, said: “We wanted to make real people look as animated as possible. Our actors were small-bodied, thin women covered in layers of white fabric. Each facial expression was made of rubber and pasted on the actors.” A film shot at 20 frames per second made the Zoo Zoo’s movements hurried and comical. Of the 29 different Zoo Zoo ads created for the IPL, there was a new one everyday.

After all this marketing success, the Vodafone ad during the FIFA World Cup where a young guy leaves a stuffed life size toy in his place with his girlfriend to join his friends for the match wasn’t well appreciated.

Now, we need to wait & watch as to how the brand comes back with a new marketing idea.

The writer is a Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.