Home / Industry / Top television ads in September: Airtel’s open affair with networking

Honesty always strikes a chord with consumers. Or at least that is what the findings of the Mint-Ipsos-TVAdIndx survey for September seem to suggest. Two advertisements from telecom brand Bharti Airtel’s Open Network campaign took spot Nos 1 and 4 on the survey’s ad reach index.

The top ad shows the mobile network problems a start-up company faces. The second ad shows a young woman, Vandana Iyer, speaking of how videos would always buffer until Airtel fixed her phone’s network settings.

The Bharti Airtel advertisements, created by Taproot Dentsu India Communication Pvt. Ltd and shot by Mumbai-based Equinox Films Pvt. Ltd, were part of the brand’s Open Network campaign.

The top commercial, inspired by the real-life stories reported on the network, shows three young entrepreneurs of a start-up. One of them says that while they were lucky to find a basement office space for their new business, the lack mobile network and connectivity crippled their work. Forcing them to work out of the parking lot, with meetings moving to the security guards’ cabin, until a complaint to Airtel saved the day. A team was sent to address the issue—adjustments made to the mobile signal towers—and the start-up was good to go.

While the earlier TVCs in the campaign featured customers complaining about poor network and call drops, documentary style, the more recent ones show how Airtel acts quickly to help consumers fix the problem.

For the advertising agency, it was all about capturing the simplicity, transparency and inclusivity that the initiative has been striving for. “We just thought it would be right to pick scenarios where the need for data would be the most critical in contemporary India," says Agnello Dias, chief creative officer and co-founder of Taproot Dentsu.

While some think the brand’s approach will work, Raghu Bhat, a founder director of Scarecrow Communications Ltd, believes the campaign could do with a shot of reality. “Consumers have lots of grievances against most telecom operators—from low data speeds to call drops to weak signals. This is a reality that can’t be solved by advertising. Therefore, Airtel formulated a tangible response—an open network that acts on consumer complaints," he says.

“To communicate this," Bhat adds, “the ad employs a storyline—where a start-up blooms after Airtel solves its network problems by fixing the position of the tower. To a consumer who has faced constant apathy, this might come across as incredible. Instead of the new information, the consumer might focus on the ‘believability quotient’ of the ad storyline."

To achieve credibility, Bhat believes, it’s probably better to convey this information in a raw form rather than bury it in a typical ad showing an unbelievable change in fortunes.

The brief was to make the film feel realistic and the characters relatable, says Nitin Parmar of Equinox Films, who shot the ad. “The concept was very fresh—about a brand openly collaborating with customers to make a stronger network. There is a lot of honesty and truth in that."

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