Karbonn bullish on smartphone; earmarks over $5 mn for campaign

Karbonn has launched its affordable, 3G enabled, Android 2.2 based smartphone, A1, for Indian consumers. The idea is to take the smartphone experience to the masses and expand the category. Karbonn is spending more than $5 million on the campaign, but does it work?

e4m by Deepika Bhardwaj
Updated: Aug 24, 2011 9:44 AM
Karbonn bullish on smartphone; earmarks over $5 mn for campaign

The mobile phone revolution hit Indian markets few years ago. Post that, multinationals lined up to sell their mobile phones or services to consumers. Data on phone is the next revolution and brands today are leaving no stone unturned to tap the opportunity. While Samsung, Nokia, Blackberry are all eyeing a larger share of this market, to challenge them all is the latest innovation from Karbonn Mobiles. Being called India’s first most affordable by Karbonn, A1 is a 3G enabled Android 2.2 smart phone that gives you all the features of a smart phone at a price which is one-third of other leading brands. Karbonn launched the campaign in the India-England test series and now plans to roll out a 360 degree campaign to market its smartphones. The brand apparently is spending more than $5 million on the advertising of the complete range of smartphones, due to release by this festive season.

Client: Karbonn Mobiles
Product: A1
Agency: Brand David
Medium: Television

The Brief:
Karbonn A1 is an initiative by Karbonn to take smart phone experience to millions of mobile consumers in India. The main idea behind the ad is to simply launch Karbonn’s 3G enabled Android phones as the most affordable Android phone in the country and attract the urban youth.

Speaking on the idea to be conveyed through the commercial, Shashin Devsare, Executive Director, Karbonn Mobiles, said, “We wanted to showcase our smart phone with features highlighted in full glory. We wanted to start from where iPhone left and the advertisement does the same. The idea is to communicate the availability of amazing features on our phone at a price point of Rs 6,999 only. Our intention is to massify smart phone category in the market. We are not looking at the top end of the pyramid of the consumer; but more than half a million users who would be looking for a replacement of their mobile very soon. We want to give them a reason for sticking to our phone and the commercial does exactly the same.”

The 20-second ad has been created by Brand David. The idea of commenting on iPhone4’s advertisement was mutually conceived by team Brand David and Karbonn, said Devsare.

Speaking on the strategy behind execution, the spokesperson from Brand David said, “For any ad the concept and its ability to communicate in the simplest manner to the TG is the key. In this ad our concept is the differentiating factor. We have kept it very simple and made the features and proposition of affordability come alive in a very direct yet charming way. What better way to showcase the phone and live up to the proposition than by doing a Demo? The films convey all the power-packed features that our phone has- which is the mainstay of our communication for Karbonn Android. The strategy is to position Karbonn Mobiles second to none as compared to other international and national smart phones brands in the market.”

Expert Opinion:

Elvis Sequeira, National Creative Director, Cheil Worldwide does not seem to be sold with the idea of bringing smart phones at this price. He commented “Ahem, the poor man's iPhone, in a poor imitation of the iPhone4 TVC. The original talked about all the cool stuff you could do and bundled it with an attitude, and this one just goes ...ahem, and lists out a bunch of copycat features. Just makes you want the iPhone4 even more. Whether it will create an impression, depends completely on how many people are aware that it's a takeoff on another brand. If you don't get that, well, you don't get it. I will give it half a star out of 5, for trying - to be blatant - at least.”


Kunal Gill, Executive Creative Director, TBWA\ Delhi lauded the brave attempt, but felt more could be done. He added, “Well, it’s a spoof on the recent ‘if you don’t have an iPhone’ series, but I’m not sure if everyone will get that immediately. I didn’t. That’s mainly because I don’t park those two brands in the same thought. Coke and Pepsi parodying each other is a battle between equals. This is not. Also, it’s a little silly to take on a multiple execution campaign that highlighted a host of features with a single spot that highlights just three or four. Creatively, they could have, and should have had much more fun with a spoof. This one is a really bland carbon copy (pun not intended). And that's just an opportunity lost. Having said that, I suppose credit is due for a brave attempt, even if it is a little misguided.”

Our take:
Though Karbonn is playing real smart by launching a smart phone at this price, the commercial does not promote the phone in full decibels. If the initial few seconds are missed, the audience would miss “If you don’t have an ....” phrase which is the beginning of the whole concept. The features highlighted are also basic in nature and do not give a strong competition to the established brand.

The idea which could however bring a world of difference to the communication could be the price of the phone, but that is not disclosed in the commercial. Though the voice over says the phone is available at a fraction of price, we strongly feel the figures would have made lot of consumers go and check out the phone. The onus of that would remain on the retailers now!

Stars: 3 out of 5

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