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WHEN NARSIMHAN WAS TOLD TO THINK DIFFERENTLY ABOUT VIRGIN MOBILE, LITTLE DID HE KNOW THAT EVERYTHING ABOUT IT WOULD BE IN HATKE ISHTYLE
“Our first offering & the competition is already seeing red,” was what Prasad Narsimhan had to say about the dramatic launch of Virgin Mobile in India. The CMO of the company couldn’t have asked for a better launch pad for the brand. Yelling & shrieking its arrival (literally!), Virgin Mobile on March 10, 2008, took the readers of a leading Indian English daily by surprise, when all the headlines on the first page were in the colour ‘red.’ What’s more? The ad became the talk of the town when as a new telecom company, Virgin Mobile announced a truly whacky scheme of paying its subscribers for all the incoming calls that they receive. Virgin Mobile was quick to realise that the desi lads and lassies love to talk for hours on their mobile, but have limited pocket money for the same. “The response to this scheme (paying 10 paise for every 60 seconds of incoming calls on the Virgin Mobile phone) has been overwhelming,” avers Narsimhan. A truly clutter-breaking strategy for Virgin Mobile, as the Indian telecom market already has 4-5 well-established players in each circle.
After the initial attack on other telecom players, Virgin Mobile did not sit back, rather it continued its lethal assault. With a host of telecom players slugging it out, Virgin Mobile knew it would have to take a hatke route, and here’s when the seeds were sowed to launch a mobile brand that revolves around the youth. “When we came in, the market was very competitive and others (competitors) were targeting almost everyone. That gave us the opportunity to think that can we look at only a part of the segment and delight them, rather than appeasing all,” explains Narasimhan. So, from day one, Virgin Mobile’s strategy has been to be ‘relevant to the youth’ in everything that it does. Rajeev Raja, ex-ECD of Bates 141 (the agency that handles the Virgin Mobile account) shares, “The brief given to the agency was simple – to launch a mobile for the youth.” So Virgin Mobile, within a span of just two weeks after the launch, brought out two very catchy TV commercials that instantly caught the eyeballs of their target audience – the Gen Y.
The rationale behind targeting youngsters was that in India, youth constitute a large chunk of the population. The challenge was to create a sharp brand entity in the minds of this target group. As many as 1,000 scripts were made around the ‘Think hatke’ theme and only 2-3 got selected to be made into TVCs. And undoubtedly Virgin Mobile’s TVCs are standing testimony of how to ‘Think hatke.’ That’s not all. The TVCs were backed by equally well chalked out outdoor and online campaigns; the places chosen are quite a hit with the Gen Y. The idea was not only to promote Virgin Mobile at these venues, but to develop long-term relationship with the youth. “Rather than deploying a carpet bombing strategy, the idea is to be where the youth is, like college campuses, movie halls, et al,” avers Narsimhan. So far, Virgin Mobile has got the right set of ingredients to break the clutter. Nevertheless, with other operators spending huge chunks of money to promote their VAS services, it would be interesting to see what Virgin Mobile plans to offer as it calls out loud, ‘Watch out for me!’
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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2009
An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).
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