A stellar debut

Published On: 2012-08-12

Author: unknown

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A stellar debut


Source: Business Standard

Date: June 16, 2009


Reliance Communications has rolled out a 360-degree Hrithik Roshan campaign to mark its entry into the GSM space.


The advertisement opens with a shot of Hrithik Roshan with guns in his hands, a la James Bond, inside a dark shed. It’s actually a film shoot for the young Bollywood star. The director says cut and several crew people are seen changing the shot. The camera then moves to Roshan’s makeup room. He comes and sits on a chair, tired from the scene he has enacted. As he settles down, something crosses his mind and he smiles to himself. He dials a number from his mobile phone.


A man fishing in a like reaches out for his ringing mobile phone. At first, he thinks the call is for his son and is about to hand it to him, when he recognises the voice. He cannot believe it. He excitedly leaves his fishing rod and chats away on the phone.


Roshan, looking very pleased and content from the last call, dials one more number from his phone, this time to his school teacher. The old woman who picks up the phone doesn’t believe it’s him and says, “What do you think? I’m mad or what?” To jog up her memory, Roshan says, “Ma’am, class eight B, the green eyed boy.” The old teacher exclaims: “Duggu.”


Cut to a very busy stock broker who is juggling several phones at the same time. Just then his mobile phone rings and he answers it. The stock broker too looks pleasantly surprised upon getting a call from the well-known actor.


While Roshan is reminiscing about the calls he made, a woman walks in and informs him that the next shot is ready. He nods at her. An old man fixes the lights up at a stall when his phone rings. Little scared to hear his mobile ring in the middle of a shoot, he quietly picks it up. Roshan, while talking on his mobile phone, surrounded by few set crew people, looks up and waves at the man. He realises it’s Roshan calling to thank him. He smiles warmly and gives the actor his blessing.


The ad closes with a shot of Reliance Communications’ colour bars and a voiceover that says: Don’t wait, go for it.


Given the importance of the task ahead and the threat of new entrants, the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group company is not taking any chances. Thus, it has roped in style icon and superstar Roshan as its brand ambassador and is reported to be spending over Rs 50 crore on this campaign alone. Additionally, the campaign will be a full 360-degree one using outdoor, print, radio and digital technology to the hilt.


What’s more, Reliance Communications will make good use of Roshan’s celebrity status too. To that end, the company is using his voice at their customer call centres for recorded messages. In the online space, a digital Roshan is enabled to connect calls between two numbers.


As for the choice of celebrity, Behl believes he’s hit the jackpot. “For one, Roshan is an iconic figure who cuts across markets and classes. Two, he’s not overexposed on celebrity endorsements; so he brings a fresh feel to the ad,” says he. Not surprising then, the actor has been appointed brand ambassador of the whole company and will be endorsing everything from value-added services to direct-to-home television.


Stiff competition


The ad which broke on May 30 will run for about six weeks and may be extended if needed. It has five different executions with nine edits that took about eight weeks to make. In the coming weeks, four more executions of the ad will roll out.


Behl isn’t perturbed. “Each brand has to play to its strategy. These brands have been around for a long time and I don’t want to play a competitive game.”


Ramakrishna of Cartwheel hopes that with this television commercial, Reliance Communications will be able to differentiate itself from the rest of the herd.


Missing the beat?


However, brand consultants and advertising veterans are sceptical. “This ad makes it seem like Reliance Communications invented the mobile phone. It says nothing about the brand or what it stands for,” says an advertising head who does not wish to be named. “We know Airtel’s personality and we know Vodafone’s personality. What is Reliance’s personality?”


Brand consultant Harish Bijoor of Harish Bijoor Consults is also apprehensive. “I believe this ad doesn’t work. It’s like forcing an emotion on the consumers. Reliance Communication’s image should be even more mega than Airtel and it should touch the bottom of the pyramid.”


Luckily for Reliance Communications though, even before the ad released, its foray into the segment has met with success. The service which was rolled out in seven circles in January has, according to the company, already got about 10 million GSM subscribers.


This takes its total GSM and CDMA subscriber base to 74.8 million and gives it a 20 per cent share of the whole market.


Moreover, the nationwide GSM launch, it claims, has been instrumental in increasing its share of new subscriber additions to seven per cent for the first four months of this year. And by the end of the year, Reliance Communications hopes to improve this figure to 25 per cent with a target of 100 million subscribers overall. To achieve that, the company has kept the entry fee at a meager Rs 25 and offers five to ten minutes of talk-time free every day for three months. Besides, Reliance Communications’ brand awareness is 95 per cent, a figure Behl hopes will bolster his business in the days to come.