Vodafone or Airtel: Which ad does a better job of striking the emotional chord?

Vodafone’s ‘Farewell’ and Airtel’s ‘Ice Cream Truck’ campaigns try in a similar vein to tug at the viewer’s heartstrings. We explore the different nuances and effectiveness of the two campaigns

e4m by Sarmistha Neogy
Updated: Mar 30, 2015 8:38 AM
Vodafone or Airtel: Which ad does a better job of striking the emotional chord?

In the highly volatile and competitive telecom market, every operator is trying to do something different from the other to stand out. During this cricket World Cup, two of the major telecom operators Vodafone and Airtel have released advertising campaigns high on the emotional quotient. What is surprising here is that, they have both have been released within a span of few days. In similar tonality, Airtel talks about the ease of video chatting and Vodafone shows the convenience of sharing pictures on their network.

Airtel has come out with its ‘Ice Cream Truck’ TVC which shows how the network helps a group of youngsters to connect with their school days ice cream vendor after many years. It is because of the network, that one friend takes a video of the old uncle and shares it with everyone in his group. Together then they decide to surprise him by gifting him with a huge ice-cream truck to make his life a little easier.

Few days later, we saw Vodafone launching its two new TVCs ‘Retirement’ and ‘Haircut’. Retirement film narrated a touching story of an old man leaving office and how his young office colleagues decide to surprise him on his last working day. This one has resemblance with Airtel ‘Ice Cream Truck’ film and also reminds us of the old Titan ad, where all the students give a surprise to their teacher on his farewell.

Creative Strategy: Airtel vs. Vodafone

Saurabh Dasgupta, Executive Creative Director, Innocean said, “There is a difference between ‘Connect for Good’ and ‘Is good to connect’ and what we see in both the Vodafone and Airtel commercials is that the aim is not to click photos or videos and share it blindly. Every story in these films has a positive end and the idea is thus to enable a social change through faster internet.”

Echoing similar thoughts, KV Sridhar aka Pops, Chief Creative Officer, Sapient Nitro said, “I liked the simplicity of sharing a picture in this generation of clicking selfies only for the number of likes on social media sites. I found a resemblance between both Airtel ‘Ice Cream Truck’ and Vodafone ‘Retirement’ film’, I don’t know why and I feel that they should be creatively different. I have personally liked the ‘Retirement’ film more because everything looked so real, from the pregnant girl to the old man, on the other hand the ‘Ice Cream Truck’ and ‘Haircut’ are more of a wishful thing. They will bring a smile for sure on your face, but how many of us will be able to relate to it? Retirement on the other hand, is a topic which we all can, I loved everything about it. Is it because I am nearing that age?”

You can view the ads here:
Airtel (Ice Cream Truck)-   

Vodafone (Farewell)-


Branding thought: Emotion vs. humour?

Anand Halve, Co-founder and Director, Chlorophyll said, “The telecom market is becoming so competitive with several players in the market that every day they have a new message to communicate to the audience. The idea behind both the leading players taking the ‘emotional’ route at the same time is not surprising. Today it is ‘emotional’, tomorrow it will be ‘feature based and day after tomorrow it will be something else. The only thing required here is that the tone or the voice of the brand should be constant, while the message keeps on changing.”

Pravin Thakur, Digital Media Consultant, ibrand explained that brand recall also depends on the frequency of the communication. “I have personally liked Vodafone’s ‘Haircut’ film more because it is funny and sometimes humour sells more than emotion.”

According to him, Vodafone has a greater brand recall, mainly because of its attempt to stay different. In terms of visibility, marketing and advertising, Vodafone is the hands down winner. “Visit any part of the country, however remote that might be, you will always notice the Red Vodafone logo,” he said.

Who is more effective and why?

Dasgupta has noticed that in the last few months, Airtel has been doing these long format ads with human interest stories. According to him, it is actually a smart move to build on characters and concentrate on consumer insights to give the brand a face. It has been discussing topics which are really relevant and will interest everyone. Earlier the brand was only about price plan and other validity related announcements. Vodafone on the other hand has always been there and will always be at the top of my mind. I feel that Vodafone is more mature and it also gets reflected in their thought with the ‘Retirement’ ad, while Airtel on the other hand is a much younger brand with more juvenile emotions.

Pops elaborated, “Vodafone has always been different; it came out with Zoozoos at a time, when the others were drowned in the cricket fervour. Their narration was real and people loved it, then it started confusing people by taking it to foreign location and paying greater details to filming. During this time, Airtel started carving a space in people’s mind. Their film on ‘Female Boss’ earned both credits as well as criticisms, but the brand campaign started to stand out. Even the recent ‘My plan- be nice to your dad, it is the only way to get him to share his post paid plan with you’ is being criticised, but still there are conversations around the campaign and the brand recall becomes higher.”

Explaining the tone of the brand’s communication, Halve said “Airtel is like the Indian in the 21st century, Vodafone is the elitist who graduated just from St Stephens, while Idea Cellular is there to empower India.”

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