Wednesday, May 14, 2008

BBF: Ad critique 2 : Telecom Ads

The second installment of my ad critique that appeared on the May 2008 issue of the Bangladesh Brand Forum magazine
Errata: I have wrongly said that Amitabh Reza produced the Banglalink Desh 3 ad. He did the first two. This one was Kislu's work. Sorry!

A lot is happening in the mobile telecom advertising world recently. After a dull year it seems most of the players are back in action. For this month’s review I thought it would be interesting to see what the various communication are looking like.

grameenphone: well before I start of, a disclaimer. My agency was fired by grameenphone this month. It seems after a year or two of dabbling with various agencies handling different segments, the company has decided to consolidate most of its work at one place. Grey is the beneficiary of this move. And they have just started rolling out the new campaign – “Stay Close”.

A very powerful insight indeed. Why else would one carry a phone but to connect? It is amongst the most basic of the function of category. But the question that arises in my mind, is it good enough to bring in new customers to grameenphone? Is that the customers are looking for? Of course the advertisings are just rolling out so it is a bit presumptuous of me start guessing the purpose of the campaign.

So what did I think of the actual ad? A railway station and a chance encounter between old lovers. Quite an interesting setting and Amitabh Reza’s execution of the script was wonderful. Very poetic indeed. Quite a few people will like it. Some swoon over it. But I get the distinct feeling where have I seen it before?

The story line has a few holes in it as well. Our protagonist seems to have his ex-flames number and knows that she is still unmarried after all these years. So why didn’t he try to “stay close” earlier? Hmmm… I have broken the 1st Golden Rule of Cinema – “Thou shalt not question the holes in the plot!”

I would wait till the whole campaign roles out before making my mind up about if I like it or not, but right now, I’m sitting on the fence.

On production value I’ll give it a 7 on 10. On originality a 4. Overall: let’s wait.

Banglalink: on its third instalment Banglalink Desh 3 is another Amitabh Reza production. Is it working? I am positive speaking to the marketing gurus from Banglalink the answer will be an emphatic “yes”. Numbers are up, they are now number two player in the market. A lot of people like the song and dance routine. Or maybe some like me just like watching Monalisa on TV! But I’ll bet you a dinner at a restaurant of your choice the series of ads isn’t adding anything to the brand value.

There is no insight here. There is no consumer connect. There is no element of campaignability or anything that is making the subscribers remember it beyond the catchy jingle. Ads like this work as long as there is money to play it on TV and then when they go off air… poof!… they are forgotten. Quick, name me a biscuit!… how many of you thought of the rage from a few years back “Khaitay khaitay jai bela?” What was the brand anyway?

Banglalink D3 as an ad itself isn’t anything to talk about. It isn’t different from D2 or D1! A lot of people dancing around and singing the same old song. Are you impressed? I bet Amitabh made a lot of money on it. And I bet he is not going to put it on his showreel.

Worst bit of the campaign is that it is a complete rip-off Telenor Pakistan’s one. Shame. Our advertising world has (or atleast should have) gone beyond this. It helps no one. Not the agency, not the industry, not the client and certainly not the brand. Well to answer then: “Ami bhalo achi kintu apnar brand nai!”

On production value I’ll give it a 4 on 10. (it isn’t any better or worse than the other two) On originality a 0. Overall: 3/10.

Citycell: I started my advertising career working on this brand. I watched by as they made one mistake after the other and eroded their brand value and market share. So they brought in another agency, another marketing head and another campaign to save their proverbial bacon. The knight in shinning armour it turned out is a campaign copied from one of my favourites – Mac vs. PC.

The Creative honcho of the agency behind the ad is none other than Shargil Karim. And according to me (and I’ve said it many many times before) he is amongst the top 3 creative people in advertising in Bangladesh. I am not sure if he was involved in the campaign or not, but as a fellow Mac user, I’ll venture a guess that he had more than his share of input in it. At first I thought, I hate this campaign because it’s another copy. But more I think of it, more I think they have got something brilliant going here. What a wonderful grasp of product differentiation. They have taken a product and a technology that is in consumer’s mind inferior to the market leader’s, and then point by point they refute it. With consumer’s perception being turned on its head I am sure Citycell is back in their list of consideration before making a purchase. And end of the day, that is all an advertising should really do.

I can’t talk of this set of ads without mentioning two people. Samir the director is one of the most under-rated resources we have. I am surprised why we don’t give him more films to do. He did great editing on it and the art direction was meticulous. The second person is Asif the main actor. He pulled it off to the tee. We liked his performance so much that we’ve used him for one of our ads. Look out for him. He is going places. Remember, Justin Long, the Mac in the original ads, is now an up-and-coming actor in Hollywood.

On production value I’ll give it a 6 on 10. On originality a 5 (yup! That’s right) Overall: 5/10 (I still subtracted 2 points because is a copy).

Nazim Farhan Choudhury is the chief mattobbor in Adcomm Limited. Spending 14 years pretending to be in advertising, he now thinks that he can critique works that others have spent many nights (and in some cases even 5 minutes) trying to come up with. To his utter surprise he notices that most of the brands that he has worked on have become quite powerful in the market. He would love to come up with a Cannes Lion winning idea but unfortunately his “dimak key batti” is on a permanent load-shedding schedule. You can send angry emails to him at or visit his blog


Nafia Hussain said...

Needless to say i loved your article.about Grameen Phone i must say they are doing a good job with their new ad and all. However, as a consumer and a fellow marketing/branding fetish, i must add that recently their advertisements keep on reminding me of short films, if not a full length one. Good story, good idea, with an emotional touch but way too prolonged.take for example the one where both Dad and Daughter celebrate their birthdays. repetedly approximately 3 different men reminded the dad "biyer por meye por hoye jae." all in all everything is good , just a bit lengthy!

Syed said...

So totally agree with ur comments on GP and Banglalink!
However I dare to remember "jaite khaite bela " as non other than 'BRITOL BISCUIT'
It was an ad to remember!!! shocking, cheap, tasteless in execution but nevertheless widely a "HIT" number for the pre-telecom ad wars......

About GP's execution of the ad..........conceptwise ok since they're trying to fight back by trying to level back to the POD of B'link and bring the emotional touchy feelings factor as a Point of parity.........GP lost so much of its 'deshi-desh' flavor when it changed its logo to the new"transcending dynamic" one...(which i personally think sucks-relates nothing to Bangladesh).

Banglalink have done a great job in relating to Bd, bangla, desh etc......They almost own Ekushey Feb, Shadhinota

While GP is trying to get back on the "emotional touchy factor"...with their nonsense with 2 guys friendship (stories not bad but no way relates to their brand)...Their viral campaign with radio Furti in DU however was smart..........
Banglalink came back notouriosly with the little girl crying to her mother..........they took no time in rebutting GP's B'links competitiveness...
However on desh 3...theres actually no meaning to it....a desh add without Tinni doesn look Desh ...bottomline is it looks like a waste of money......however it may be to keep the mass markets attention on them...the Britol Buscuit way ( which isn't bad for instatnt attention-awareness-recall for the particular TA)....moreover Blinks got plenty to spend even if they never reach the BEP they'll certainly surpass GP within the next 5 Years....
About warid: i think their Communications strategy is worst of all telecoms....who's got the time to memorize zem,zahi, alif layla,Shamrat etc and their changability (whatever that means)....their complicated communication tactics which is far beyond my reach; reminds me of the "Ek dhap pichye AKTEL days when they came up with new packages to cannibilize their own share!"

NAIM said...

Grameenphone is overvalued by our general people. Maximum people's thought are alaways positive for GP. And they never think deeply that what they are using basically what is that? They basically motivated by their friends & neighbors, their comments are overvalued for GP and create extra brand impression.

But in the real world, GP(TELENOR) only has approximately 10 crore subscribers. That means GP(TELENOR) never able to take their position in the top ten Global Telecom operator ranking.

No other country in the world GP(TELENOR) don't get the leadership in the market, even in
their home scandinavia (Telia sonera is market leader there).

If TELENOR want the global leadership, then they must have operations in countries like- USA, UK, GERMANY, FRANCE, ITALY, SPAIN. But they dont have that. Maximum global telecom giants have operations in those countries. That means TELENOR is not a global telecom giant nor a global telecom operator. Basically TELENOR is a regional emerging market operator. But our Bangladeshi media told them telecom giant!!! ..haa..haa..haa.

From last two years, telenor's (GP's parent) global yearly revenue is seriously dropped in
comparison to other big multinational telecom company. 2009yearly revenue, for example: T-MOBILE 86 billion dollar, O2 has 82 billion dollar, VODAFONE 75
billion dollar, ORANGE 72 billion dollar, TELENOR only 15 billion dollar. So
what GP(TELENOR) can do with this small revenue & compete with giant
multinationals when they come here. Source: wikipedia.