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Idea Cell bets on Sumo wrestlers

10-December-2004
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Idea Cell bets on Sumo wrestlers

What does a cellular service company wanting to sell more cell services sans celebrities do? It chooses a whole lot of Japanese cellulite — all of 300 kgs residing in two Sumo wrestlers. The result has been a sell-out and now the hefty Sumo’s are joining in the celebrations. Tachibana and Motohashi, the brand ambassadors of Idea Cellular’s successful prepaid card campaign, are touring the eight circles of Idea Cellular across the country to reinforce the brand association further. Two big men and their little mock fights to woo subscribers.

The Japanese duo find India ‘very crowded — too many people and too many honking cars’. But what they have done is to help Idea Cellular stand out in a crowded cellular service market. In a celebrity dominated landscape, Idea Cellullar’s Sumo campaign has proved to be a clutter buster. The Sumotori or the Sumo wrestler fights to knock off his opponent from the ring. Idea is betting on subscribers chucking other cards in favour of Idea’s prepaid card.

Lakshminarayana, head of Idea Cellular’s Maharashtra and Goa Circle, says the strategy of using Sumo wrestlers and positioning the Idea prepaid cards as something with more power and discipline has clicked. “The Sumo campaign has made Idea prepaid the second most recalled brand,” he says. Idea’s brand health and equity has gone up and there is an impact on the growth of Idea’s prepaid cards. To stretch the brand visibility further, Idea Cellular is taking the two former Sumo wrestlers around the country on a road show. The sport from the Japanese Imperial Court is now regaling Idea’s retailers and subscribers from Panipat to Pune.

In Pune, Tachibana, 33, and Motohasi, 24, are being taken around in a Toyota Qualis or the Tata Sumo! Tachibana has earlier modelled for Pizza Hut in America and for Pepsi during the World Cup in Spain. Motohashi says, he has just retired from the ring and is looking out for a girlfriend and finds plenty of interesting faces in India. They will be teeing off in Pune’s golf greens but without their moroshai — the 10 to 30 feet black rope that they wear while wrestling. The duo are already missing their ‘Chanko-nabe’ - a food they eat three times a day and every day of the year comprising fish, chicken, pork, beef with rice and vegetables. They tried the dosas and liked it but are living on Chinese food in India. Tachiban and Motohashi will visit children in a hospital, go around the city on an Idea float and mingle with Idea’s retailer and customers during their three-day stay in Pune before leaving for Hyderabad.

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