Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Idea : An Idea Can Change Your life

Brand : Idea
Company : Idea Cellular
Agency : Lowe Lintas

Brand Analysis Count : 317

Idea is an interesting brand in the mobile service provider market in India. The brand is interesting because of its troubled history and the current marketing practices.

Idea in its earlier avatar came into existence in 1995 as Birla communications. In 1996 the company was rechristened Birla AT &T. In 2001, the company again restructured into Birla Tata AT&T. During that time, this combine was the talk of the town. Here you have three major players coming together to tap the promising Indian cellular market. But nothing happened. Soon the much touted JV failed and Birlas bought out the entire stake from the other two players.

In 2002, the birth of the " Idea " brand took place. By looking at the history, its obvious that nothing may have happened to the brand. I would say that the market also did not demand heavy investment on branding during those times. Much of the connections happened based on tariff and offers.Idea was more focused on expanding the network and improving the infrastructure during those years.

Idea as a brand began to take shape in 2006. I think that till that time, the brand owners were not sincerely committed to the brand ( My Assumption). However by the end of 2005, major investments were seen in the brand.

According to the Idea website, the brand has taken Innovate, Stimulate & liberate as the core brand values. But its doubtful whether these brand values are communicated to the consumers.
Idea is now having a market share of around 15- 17% share in the entire mobile communications market.

Even after 2006, Idea as a brand was never in the limelight. A major factor was that the investment on the brand was erratic. Most of the ads were highlighting the new tariff plans. During that time, companies was frantically rolling out new tariff plans trying to bring in customers through attractive offers.

Idea displayed its brand value - innovation through various offers and schemes. Idea My Gang was an example of such an innovation. The Closed User Group specifically targeting young customers was the first of its kind.

Idea brand got a major boost in 2007 when the brand roped in Abhishek Bachchan as the brand ambassador. Reports suggest that Abhishek and Idea had a 3 year contract which cost the company around Rs 30 Crore.
The entry of Abhishek gave the brand a lot of eyeballs. The brand had chosen a tagline " An Idea Can Change Your Life " and the entire brand communication was around this theme of ' an idea changing the life '. Before Abhishek coming in the campaigns, the brand had done a series of campaign highlighting the positioning around the theme.

In my opinion, the major breakthrough for the brand came from the campaign involving Abhishek as the Sarpanch ( village chief)
Watch the Tvc here : Number & Name

Although many viewers scoffed at the ' idea ' , the ad gave the brand lot of mileage. Also it gave some confidence behind further investment in the theme revolving around " idea" and 'Communication' changing ones life.
The latest commercial where Abhishek plays the role of a guide and using sms to communicate with a deaf tourist further popularised the brand
Watch the tvc here ; Idea guide

I must say that both these campaigns had a sticky factor. The sticky factor was indeed the performance of Abhishek Bachchan. This single factor has made the brand Idea and the tagline " An Idea can change your life " very popular. The latest campaign has a new additional slogan " What an Idea " which also has the potential to become a popular lingo.

My personal view is that despite getting these eyeballs , Idea has not been able to get its acts together. I still feel that the brand has not yet found its true essence. There is a glaring disconnect between the message in the ads and the brand. Infact as far as cellular service market is concerned, Idea as a brand does not stand for anything.
I feel that despite the ads being sticky and well made, there is nothing mentioned about the brand Idea. No message to the consumer as to what the brand stands for , what it means, and what it does. At best these campaigns will do is to increase the brand recall. Nothing further than that.
Idea is also heavily investing in events as a media to build the brand. It is associated with some of the popular shows like Idea Rocks India, Idea star singer & Idea Andhra idol ( reality shows).

The brands in this industry has already recognized the importance of investing in brand building and is trying to corner as much mental associations possible because many aspects of the services are getting commoditzed. The features like connectivity, tariff plans and coverage are almost standardized. There is intense fight in the Value Added Service domain but I feel that it will also get standardized. Vodafone is now on an overdrive to position itself as a VAS leader. The new entrant Virgin Mobile is also started coming out with new ideas life incoming calls which pays the subscriber money !

So the challenge is to get the brand embedded in the mind of the consumer so that they chose the brand instead of the plan or a feature . For that Idea may have to define a certain position.

My personal opinion is that Idea has not found its true self. The brand has everything going for it except the idea !. The brand has a good name , a good logo, a catchy slogan , a cool brand ambassador and lot of money but what a paradox - the right idea is missing.

The slogan and the theme focusing on the idea concept is powerful. However when executing, there has to be a connect between the Idea brand , the function ( the service provider) and the Idea ( concept). The latest TVC is the closest interms of connecting the functionality of the brand and the concept. But not enough.

An Idea can change your life . But which idea will change this idea's life ?