When AirTel arrived in Mumbai a few months back as the fourth player, it was with a great bang. Its share of voice was much higher than the two existing players - Orange and BPL. The awareness levels skyrocketed in a matter of days - thanks to good creative and media strategies. AR Rehman, Kareena Kapoor and Shah Rukh Khan could be seen on the TV screen as well as peeping from quite a few hoardings (They still can be!). Consumers seriously considered 'switching over', so much so that competition took note and said 'ditto' and more.
However, the focus of the cellular war has shifted from Mumbai to New Delhi for the moment with Idea Cellular launching there. It is the fourth player in the circle and fully realises the need of making its presence felt through share of voice. It has not only opted for a Delhi centric media plan but also for creatives, which talk of the themes much closure to a Delhite's heart. Says Balki, Creative Head, Lowe India, "We are extending our extremely successful national campaign in a way - We are still using cell numbers in our print and television ads. However, we are taking subjects which are Delhi-specific, for instance superior coverage."
Will we see a spurt of competitive advertising in Delhi cellular market? "No", says Balki, "We are telling the customer that we are the biggest and we provide you with the most superior network, which is an absolute statement and does not comment on the competitor." Manosh Sengupta of Idea Cellular endorses his view, and also eliminates the use of celebrity endorsement in Idea ads in very near future, "Every brand has its own strategy, and that brand would decide whether it needs celebrity endorsement or not. At this juncture we have purposefully chosen not to go for celeb endorsement as we believe that we have a product which is our celebrity."
Meanwhile, AirTel, the biggest service provider in Delhi seems unruffled by the arrival of Idea Cellular at the moment. When asked by exchange4media if the arrival of the new competitor would call for a greater focus on Delhi in terms of ad spend, Sarvjit S. Dhillon, CEO, AirTEl Delhi and North said, "The network has maintained a steady rate of growth over the years in Delhi and this year has been no exception. AirTel, on an average, has added about 30-35,000 customers every month. We expect to maintain the rate of growth by continuously enhancing the value proposition for our customers and introducing customised solutions and offerings".
However, he does not undermine the role of advertising. Says he, "Communicating with the customer, like in any other industry is a strategic tool not just for dissemination of information but also to gather customer feedback and opinion. Developing of a comprehensive communication program is integral to our business".
As reported earlier, Idea cellular brand promotion budget for the year is to the tune of Rs 75 crore, while Airtel's brand budget is in the vicinity of Rs 100 crore. Will the two giants try to outdo each other in Delhi market in terms of share of voice, offers and schemes, remains to be seen. The battle has just begun.