Having spent around two decades in the media and entertainment industry, Zubin Driver, chief executive officer of Cell 18, has worked with brands such as BPL Mobile, Rexona, Pepsodent, Godrej Soaps and CNBC.


The new Idea Cellular ad stars brand ambassador Abhishek Bachchan as a tree that advocates the use of mobile phones to save paper. The ad shows people using mobile phones to read the news, receive college certificates, waiters taking orders on their phones, celebrities leaving their autographs on smartphones, etc.

What did you think of the ad?

Branching out: Sales numbers will be the final call on effectiveness.

Does this strategy work?

The big gamble for Idea is whether all this will translate into a “reason to shift". While the campaigns make the brand interesting and engaging, will the end consumer have enough reasons to switch to Idea? I have a feeling new cellular users may consider Idea as an option; I am not sure about how much churn in the cellular user community will benefit Idea. What the campaign certainly does is create huge brand recall for Idea; it cuts through the clutter and puts Idea as a brand centre stage. I am sure lots of people will find the ad unbelievable and lots will find it great.... that’s the point of any big idea, it creates debate and engagement. Overall, this ad scores in my book on many fronts, though I would like to take a look at subsequent sales numbers to take a final call on effectiveness.

With India preparing for number portability, how can these brands stand out?

It’s going to get tougher with number portability. I think that better service is what is finally going to keep consumers hooked...better network, clarity and the best deals. The brands have to just make sure they are cool, aspirational and high-tech. Also it will be interesting to see how 3G changes the game.

Practically all mobile service providers have celebrity ambassadors. Does this strategy work?

Hiring a celebrity in itself does not work. Can you get the celebrity to do something interesting and out of the box? In the case of Idea, they have used Abhishek pretty well.

As told to Gouri Shah