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Ban (ned) in Mumbai is lifted; Airtel launches mobile service in the city

25-July-2002
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Ban (ned) in Mumbai is lifted; Airtel launches mobile service in the city

'Banned in Mumbai - From this July' - That's what hoardings in Mumbai have been screaming for over a week now. Finally the ban has been lifted. AirTel, the fourth mobile service provider for the city, launched its services in Mumbai yesterday. The teaser campaign, which has been generating curiosity in the city has finally unveiled itself.

On the occasion of the launch of Bharti AirTel, which took place on July 24, 2002, Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman and Group Managing Director, Bharti Enterprises said, "It is my proud privilege to bring AirTel to Mumbai, the commercial capital of India. This launch marks a momentous step in the history of Bharti and delivers our vision to transform Bharti into a pan-India telecom player. Today we bring to Mumbai a world class network and a slew of unique benefits for the first time in India that only a true pan-India mobile player can offer".

Adds Sanjay Kapoor, Executive Director, Bharti Cellular limited, "AirTel's entry in Mumbai is a defining event to our customers, a bouquet of unique benefits. We are sure our service offerings will further stimulate growth and enhance the quality standards of mobile services in Mumbai."

Talking about the competition from the existing players, Atul Jhamb, Chief Operating Officer, Mumbai, Bharti Cellular Limited said, "The AirTel would be differentiated vis-à-vis competition on superior network, 30 sec pulse, National footprint, unmatched value offered to the customers, and AirTel Magic, which has been a huge success in Delhi."

Bharti has planned to invest more than Rs.500 Cr in this project. Speaking on this, Sunil says, "We have no interest to enter a market in 'Mickey Mouse' manner. We are investing a huge amount of money to make sure that 'we deliver what we say'. Mumbai is a growing market and at present has only 5% of the total potential customers using mobile services. Our aim is to expand this market."

To create the required Buzz in the market before entering, AirTel used outdoors extensively to promote a series of Teaser ads saying 'Banned In Mumbai'. Talking exclusively to exchange4media, Donald Cameron, Director, Bharti Tele-Ventures Limited explained the reason for selecting a teaser ad, " The main message which we tried to communicate through our initial campaign was that there is a high degree of congestion which results in not getting oneself connected. The reason for choosing a teaser ad was to create suspense and to make people think about the ad. I feel we have been successful on both the fronts."

Adding to this Donald says, "From today onwards the ads would change and would carry an AirTel logo on them. These ads would be skewed towards the teaser ads and would speak about the various benefits which the company has to offer to its customers."

Continuing the discussion about Bharti's advertising and marketing strategy, Pratik Pota, Chief Marketing Officer, Bharti Cellular Limited, says, "The whole campaign is being divided into three phases. The first phase which has already been witnessed was of the teaser ad campaign; the second phase is the launch of AirTel with various value-added services, which would see a lot of multimedia usage. Television would not be used that extensively as print, outdoors, and radio be used for advertising; the third phase would be of post launch advertising."

AirTel has entered the market in an aggressive form and has plans to spend a huge amount of money in advertising. Quizzed about the reasons on whether Bharti is trying to penetrate the market or expand it, Pratik says, "We are not at all trying to eat up other's market shares, but are trying to expand this market, which has only 5% of the total potential customers using mobile phones. We have carried out a number of researches just to understand the factors, which inhibit the customer using a mobile phone. And we have found out that the major barrier is affordability. That's why we are offering services which would attract these price sensitive customers."

Whether the Bhartis are able to achieve the desired market share or not, the mobile user should feel happy and be ready to see a lot of action in the coming months.

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