BrandTalk: We analyse trends and make insightful products: Shashwat Sharma, Airtel

Sharma, CMO, Bharti Airtel, on how the brand has built itself in the age of transparency and relevancy

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Jul 22, 2019 8:30 AM


Shashwat Sharma

Speaking about how Airtel transformed itself into a new-age brand, at the BrandTalk 2019 conference July 19 in Gurugram , Shashwat Sharma, CMO with the telecom brand, focussed on how marketers should always look at partnering with customers.

“There is no fooling the customers because they have all the information at the tip of their fingers,” he said.

Going back to the days when trouble started with consumers constantly complaining about telecom service providers, Sharma said, “In 2015 with new technology and with 4G coming in, Airtel went into a very activist mode of advertising telling what the technology offers and that's the time people became familiar with the face of the brand and the whole challenge format advertising came into Airtel.”

Airtel, he added, started with quite a exigent 4G challenge that said ‘Isse faster network Mile Toh life time mobile bill free’.

“While all this was happening the ground reality was different, that was the biggest reality challenge we were facing. This happened for various reasons. Data prices were too low, growth was unprecedented, infrastructure couldn’t keep pace and all this led to credibility questioning. All of this happened in spite of unprecedented network investment. This is a year after we put up the campaign and investments went up by 40 percent. That’s when there was a big shift and we paused and looked at ourselves, asked what is it that we really are doing we went ahead and put out a manifesto for ourselves,” said Sharma.

Sharma read out the manifesto that said -

'I think its about open questions. A big step starts with an open question. We asked ourselves too. Are we the best network we could possibly be? Honestly, No.  Do we want to get there  fervently? And definitely yes, for starters we have decided to become India’s first open network which means you have open access to our tower maps, our internet strength, our strong signal zones are not just in your state or city, but right down to where you live. So please judge us, question us, tell us where we are going wrong and that will help us getting it right because you know what you need far better than we know what you need, and if we want you to open up to us we have to start by opening up to you so we are starting with two simple words ‘questions open’.'

“Since then we have been trying very hard to be an honest and open network. Consumer acceptance of network also went up dramatically. It was a three-year journey where we kept asking ourselves what next in terms of transparency, what next in terms of being an honest brand and then we started this whole journey about talking about the network on digital platforms. We picked up all the digital conversation by customers and started building our marketing campaigns around what customers were talking about,” Sharma said.

According to Sharma, Airtel uses digital interaction in three important ways network planning, innovating and campaigns.

“We analyze trends and make insightful products and re use social media chatter for more relatable communication. That’s what makes our network a truly open and transparent one,” Sharma concluded.

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