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.

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