Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Mobility and the saga of Du

Du is the second operator in the GSM mobility space in the UAE. The country has been waiting them for almost an year now to launch their services. They are out with a million dollar marketing campaign for more than 3 months now. This includes those colorful hoardings across the city, those many full page color advertisements in the national newspapers – Arabic and English, kiosks at vantage points and not to mention the many thousands of Du staff in their uniform with a prominent monogram of the logo.

All this multi million dollar spend not withstanding they seem to go nowhere. They are simply not moving, no sign of them starting their service in the near future. Calls to their customer care center gets you the most ambiguous answer like “May be end of December, may be sometime in 2007” or even the mindless “I don’t know”.

They started their brand campaign “Du – Add life to life” about 3-4 months ago. It was a campaign based on water and its importance in a human beings life. This is what a spokesman from Du has said about this campaign “Water brings people together, it comes from inside us, it allows us to travel far, and it expresses itself with power or as a whisper. And of course, it is all around us in our daily life. This is how we see communication and we want to take it further.”.

Two months of teaching me the importance of water in my life?

Enough of it! Now, tell me what you have to offer me, as a mobile service provider.

And then comes the reserve your number campaign. The older operator Etisalat has a ‘050’ code and Du has been allocated ‘055’. Therefore Du has started a campaign asking people to retain their old number (Etisalat number) but with a ‘055’ code. They charge you somewhere ranging from Dh.100 to Dh.4000 depending on the novelty value of the number you want to reserve. And, yes you could use this number whenever Du decide to start its service. And when? God knows!

But how on earth would someone go on to reserve a number without even knowing what Du has to offer? I wouldn’t unless I suffer from a chronic numeric fetish.

There are no signs of Du telling people what they would bring on to the table in terms of service, costs etc. All they want people to do now is to rush to their kiosks or the website to reserve a number.

Very funny!

They have also extended the deadline for reserving numbers by a month. May be no one is reserving. While they started this campaign of theirs in newspapers, they now have started using radio (almost all the radio channels in the UAE, I presume). There is a cheap spot that appears in one of the Hindi FM channels I heard.

My first remark “Du is running out of water”

There are a couple of things I would like to advice Du and its marketing communication partners on.

1. Figure out who you are first. What business are you in? What do you have to offer to the consumer tangibly? What differentiates you from Etisalat?

2. Sort out the ambiguity in the tone and manner of communication – Figure out who your primary target audience is, speak to them in their language. Don't try win everyone on day one. Remember "Rome wasn't built in one day"

3. For gods sake don’t just plaster the walls and newspapers – Think about why you are.

4. Most importantly, don’t fool people anymore. Put a date for the launch of your services and launch it first before you speak further.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A commercial from Lowe, Mumbai

This is a brilliant commercial Lowe, Mumbai has done for Camlin Permanent Markers. Camlin is one of the big stationery brands in India.

It is a simple thought all Indians would be aware of. For Indian women, married women in particular their bangles, the vermillion mark on their forehead and the sacred thread the husband ties around the wife’s neck called the mangalsutra (when a man and woman are married) are three important symbols.

The vermillion mark in particular is supposed to be associated with the life of the husband. They retain these marks as long as their husband is alive. Once they loose their husband they loose these sacred symbols too. In rural India, when the husband passes away the symbols are ceremonially removed from his widow. This process is done by a group of elderly widows in town.

The guys from Lowe, Mumbai have effectively exploited this insight to produce this brilliant commercial.

The story here is simple. Camlin Permanent Marker is after all a permanent marker, indelible. This is a story where the husband has used the marker instead of the traditional vermillion powder, and hence indelible. As mythology has it, as long as a woman doesn’t have the vermillion mark wiped off her forehead, her husband is deemed to be living and has to be living with her.

Brilliant… See it for yourself.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

What am I watching now?

It is time for one of the famed BBC comedies, Yes Minister. I bought a boxed set of 3 DVD’s over the weekend.

I remember watching "Yes Minister" as a kid in Doordarshan, the only television channel available in India those days. I particularly loved the character Sir Humphrey played by Nigel Hawthorne. Stiff upper lipped, cynical and the champion of redtape-ism. This character is simply brilliant.

For starters, Yes Minister is a political satire that revolves around 3 three characters (mainly). James Hacker MP. (played by Paul Eddington), who becomes the Cabinet Minister of Administrative Affairs (and later the PM), his Permanent Secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby (played by Nigel Hawthorne) and his Principal Private Secretary Bernard Woolley (played by Derek Fowlds). In some episodes there comes a fourth major character Frank Weisel (played by Neil Fitzwiliam), Hackers Political Advisor.

The advantage watching a British comedy is that even in case you don’t understand the English or the humour, you could time your laugh. This is made easy by the sound of people laughing in the background (an integral part of British comedies), one could time his / her laugh based on that. This would limit the embarrassment and make others think you understand and appreciate the British humour.

A good watch either ways, you understand or not!