Introduction

In May 2009, India-based leading telecom operator, Idea Cellular's (Idea) advertisement (ad) endorsed by the Indian film star Abhishek Bachchan (Bachchan) won the 'Best celebrity endorsement award' at NDTV Tech Life Awards2. On receiving the award, Bachchan said," The IDEA campaign carries a socially relevant message in today's commercial environment and the brilliant concept of encouraging two-way communication between the government and people has connected with millions across India."3 Idea had chosen Bachchan as its brand ambassador in October 2007. Advertising agency Lowe Lintas (Lowe), which had been designing ad campaigns for Idea since the late 1990s, developed new campaigns after Bachchan was signed up These campaigns, based on social issues that could be solved using mobile telephony, were acclaimed for their creativity. Idea's ads had focused on its network coverage and promotional packages before Bachchan was appointed as its brand ambassador. The company used its brand name 'Idea' in its ad slogans like 'An Idea can change your life,' 'A good Idea,' and 'What an Idea!' According to advertising experts, Idea enjoyed very little brand recall in the initial years after its inception. It had gained on that front by using its brand name in creative and meaningful slogans that concluded in its ads making perfect sense. Analysts felt that using Bachchan, one of the leading movie actors in India who is extremely popular among youngsters, was one of the reasons for the significant improvement in Idea's brand recall. Analysts also attributed the success of Idea in improving its brand recall and subscriber base to the creative work done by Lowe. Idea's ads were in contrast to that of its competitors like Bharati Airtel and Vodafone which focused on their value added services (VAS) and products. However, some experts felt that while Idea's ad campaigns were creative and improved its brand recall, there was nothing in the ads that would attract a customer of its competitors or a new subscriber. They felt that Idea should have promoted the unique selling points of its products and services in the ads rather than only projecting the uses of mobile telephony...

Background Note
The inception of Idea dates back to 1995 when one of India's leading business conglomerates, the

It used extensive out-of-home (OOH) media like bill boards and bus stop shelters for pre-launch teasers.. Idea launched a website called http://bythepeople.Aditya Birla Group (ABG).. and network coverage. 'A Good !Dea' Campaign Idea's promotions in 2006 were based on its tariffs. Idea started promoting its Rs.. IPL provided Idea with a good opportunity for its brand building exercise as the competition was closely followed by the entire country. In December 2008.0..5 per local call per minute service aggressively. For instance. The Online Initiatives Idea took its 'What an !dea' campaign further .. Idea tied up with Mumbai Indians. Idea's AD Campaigns Idea had decided not to adopt celebrity endorsements in 2002 while its competitors like Bharti Airtel had been using multiple celebrities to promote its brand. Idea spent Rs. Idea's Launch in Mumbai !dea's launch in Mumbai circle was recognized as the world's largest single city launch of telecom services till 2008.. print. Idea's Association with IPL In March 2009. BCL started providing GSM services in the Gujarat and Maharashtra circles in India.8 billion to cover more than 1000 cellular sites in Mumbai. !dea was launched as a brand in April 2002. Idea used the then prevailing controversy of natives Vs migrants in Mumbai city.. ventured into the mobile telecom space by establishing Birla Communications Limited (BCL). one of the teams participating in the Indian Premier League (IPL).. service quality.from TV. Idea launched a campaign called 'Call the .. and radio to the Internet.. One of its TVCs featured a bowler and an umpire in a game of cricket. It launched several websites that complemented its campaigns that championed social causes.in to take forward its TVCs based on democracy.

and bus shelters since the early 2000s. . Analysts said that the urban markets were getting saturated for telecom operators and hence expanding into rural India would help them grow significantly..Cricketers' on April 30. The Road Ahead Advertising experts felt that the campaigns used by Idea to promote its network coverage and tariff plans were creative and would help it to add to its subscriber base.. They opined that many of Idea's ads in 'What an !dea' campaign had a rural background and would help Idea in building a strong brand image in rural India. public transport systems. One of the most noticed campaigns of Idea's OOH was the one used in the city of Surat in the state of Gujarat in Western India... The company used OOH media innovatively to reflect the message of the ad. The 'Out-Of-Home' Campaigns Idea had been using OOH media like hoardings... 2009.

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