Voice-calling app Ringo uses IPL to target Indian diaspora

Directi has created a marketing campaign for Indians watching the IPL online as well as on television in US, UK, Canada


Photo: Hindustan Times
Photo: Hindustan Times

Mumbai: Internet domain registrar Directi, which launched the low-cost voice-calling app Ringo in India in January, is using the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL), the popular Twenty20 cricket tournament, to promote the brand among the Indian diaspora in the US, the UK and Canada.

Directi has created a marketing campaign for Indians watching the IPL online as well as on television in these markets.

Directi said it set aside a budget of Rs.2.5 crore for this campaign both online and offline. Over the next six months, Ringo plans to spend over Rs.6 crore on advertising and building its customer base. It is also making plans to roll out an India-specific campaign in the country.

Ringo competes with voice-calling apps such as Skype and Viber that have also been promoting themselves in the Indian market. Ringo claims it offers better voice clarity compared to other such apps since it routes calls through telecom operators and not the Internet, like Skype and Viber do. According to the company, the international voice calling market in India is worth around $2 billion.

Until recently, Ringo’s marketing efforts were restricted to digital advertising, leveraging the Facebook and Google mobile platforms. Through this campaign, the company is aiming to target an audience of over five million in the US, the UK and Canada.

According to Bhavin Turakhia, founder and chief executive officer of Directi, on average Ringo logs 160,000 minutes of international calls per month from India. “In that sense, IPL gives us a unique opportunity to reach out to a highly localized, targeted and focused Indian audience in the US, the UK and Canada.”

He added that the target audience primarily comprises people with roots in India and a strong motive to call back home. “That’s the central theme of our campaign,” he said.

The ongoing campaign includes tie-ups and ad slots for its 30-second television commercial created by Los Angeles-based Stew Redwine Productions, an electronic and digital platform airing IPL matches in these three markets.

“For instance, in the US, we will be advertising on the sports website ESPNCricinfo—during the game-related video content. The parent channel ESPN also has collaborations with a number of direct-to-home providers in the US, who would be streaming the IPL games on television on a pay-per-view mode, (these include Dish TV, AT&T, Times Warner, Verizon and Mediacom), so our ads will be placed there as well,” said Turakhia.

He added that Directi is also looking at partnerships with sports entertainment website CricBuzz and other cricket-related properties to get more mileage out of the crucial stages of the tournament. “We’re adding more offline mediums to the mix. It could be through ethnic radio channels, movies or outdoor advertising in areas with these populations,” he said.

A campaign in India is also on the agenda. That, however, will be more online-driven. “We are still looking at offline avenues to launch our marketing campaigns in India, and it would take some time before they go live,” said Turakhia.

According to the company, on an annual basis, around 60 million minutes worth of calls are being made through Ringo globally. India contributes to around 50% of its user base. The total size of the international calling market in India is approximately $2 billion.

This story has been corrected to reflect that Directi and Ringo are regarded as different brands.

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