Vodafone wants India to see red as it readies major brand launch

Vodafone wants India to see red as it readies major brand launch

Telecom major Vodafone Group Plc. wants its employees to see red. And love it.

Vodafone, which acquired a majority stake in Hutchison Essar Ltd, India’s second largest GSM mobile services provider, some seven months ago, is about to go red, using its corporate colour to replace Hutch’s pink.

Hutch’s three pink stars are about to be phased out as Vodafone seeks to establish its own brand identity and logo in India. In the past few weeks, the company has been focusing internally in promoting its logo. Now, after months of planning, Vodafone is ready with a new ad campaign to be launched, in the areas where Hutch operates.

Vodafone plans to start building up the launch starting 21 September and leading up to a full-fledged launch across television, print, outdoors and the Internet, said an executive familiar with the campaign, who didn’t want to be identified.

Vodafone executives declined to share details of the roll-out, but people working on the campaign said the company planned a big splash with an initial annual budget that will be between Rs160 crore and Rs200 crore.

According to an executive of a leading media buying agency, who didn’t want to be named, Hutchison Essar spent around Rs80 crore on advertising in 2006.

“We are currently working on the new campaign and it will be out shortly," was all that Harit Nagpal, marketing director of Hutch would say. “I cannot disclose the amount we will be spending but the magnitude in which we will be coming out will be significant."

According to the executive working on the new Vodafone campaign, the British company will position itself very differently from Hutch.

“There will be a distinct change in the way the brand (Vodafone) will communicate with its audience," he said. “Hutch, as a brand, always tried to connect with consumers in a simple, honest and real manner, while Vodafone is a more young and fun brand. So consumers will see a shift reflecting a more vibrant brand."

Vodafone has, however, decided to retain the pug that became synonymous with Hutch ads. This executive said that actor Irfan Khan, who features in a Hutch commercial for pre-paid services, might also be retained.

Hutch used outdoor branding quite aggressively and Vodafone is likely to follow that practice.

The agency, which manages Hutch’s outdoor campaigns, says the mobile phone company usually spent half of its ad budget on outdoors and the new campaign to be released by the month-end will see a 100% increase in outdoor spends as against last year.

“In the coming month, you will see Vodafone campaign unfolding across hoardings, billboards and kiosks. They (the company) are doubling their presence outdoors up North," said Ravi Ambrose, head (North) of Ogilvy Activation, the outdoor advertising arm of Ogilvy and Mather India Ltd.

The global advertising agency of Vodafone, Weiden and Kennedy, has also entered India last week, raising some speculation in the ad industry about a future shift in creative responsibilities from Ogilvy and Mather to Weiden. While Weiden and Kennedy couldn’t immediately be contacted. Vodafone refused to comment on the issue.