Idea Cellular’s jingle is on everyone’s lips, but there’s dismay at Sirji going missing.

From the weighty to the cutesy, Idea Cellular’s advertising has cut a wide arc, going from ‘What an Idea, Sirji!’ to “You’re my pumpkin pumpkin, hello honey bunny”. This jingle is on everyone’s lips, having become quite a rage across the country, just as the earlier campaign became a big success.

On December 1, the Aditya Birla group company launched its new ad campaign – ‘Idea Rings All India’ – after running a high-intensity teaser campaign for three days. The jingle caught on much faster than expected, with many humming it and some making it their Facebook and e-mail status.

In February this year, the Supreme Court cancelled Idea Cellular’s 13 licences, of which seven were operational. During the spectrum auction in November, the company won spectrum in eight circles, which included seven circles where its licences were cancelled. Idea Cellular, the country’s fourth largest operator by subscriber base, now has operations across all the 22 telecom circles.

The GSM operator had a user base of about 116 million and 17.22 per cent market share as of October 30, 2012.

“Now we are a pan-India operator, compared with operations across 13 circles earlier. Now it’s a completely different situation. We needed much more visibility. Now we want to re-establish and project ourselves as a pan-India player,” explains Sashi Shankar, Chief Marketing Officer, Idea Cellular.

The ‘Honey Bunny’ page on the company’s Web site recorded more than one million visits during the first nine days of the campaign’s launch. The YouTube page got about 1.9 lakh views, while the Facebook page received more than 2,000 likes.

“Music is something which is universal, something which blends with every culture. It’s a hummable, likeable song, and that was exactly the thought behind creating the jingle,” says Shankar.

For the record, the popular hit Kolaveri Di had triggered 2.10 lakh downloads within 18 days last year, according to a survey by Airtel Mobitude, an annual customer preferences and behaviour survey done by Airtel, based on what its own customers liked/used/downloaded.

“Our brief was to roll out a campaign on Idea’s strong network and we tried to do it in our own way. If the phone rings that means there is a network, and the campaign is about network and connectivity,” Ashwin Varkey, executive creative director at Lowe Lintas, said.

Lowe Lintas is the creative agency for the campaign, while Amit Trivedi of Dev D, Wake Up Sid and English Vinglish fame scored the music. The lyrics were penned by Amitabh Bhattacharya, who shot to fame with the song ‘Emosanal Attyachar’ from the film Dev D.

The campaign, ‘Idea Rings All India’, involves radio, TV, digital (social networking sites such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook), cinema theatres and outdoors. However, print is the one medium missing from the campaign.

“This being an audio-visual representation, print was excluded as it would be difficult to bring out the message through print advertisements,” Rajat Mukarji, Idea Cellular Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, said.

According to Jagdeep Kapoor, managing director with Samsika Marketing Consultants, the campaign is an attempt to connect to the youth through music.

“We are likeable, we are lovable and we are popular, that’s the message. This jingle has some memorability,” Kapoor said, adding that more than half of India’s population of about 1.2 billion people are below the age of 25 years.

‘SIRJI’ CAMPAIGNS

Idea Cellular had launched a series of advertisement campaigns during the past 10 years, but none of them was as successful as its ‘Sirji’ series. The campaigns, with actor Abhishek Bachchan, always mirrored society and had a social message, which never went unnoticed.

The company’s first breakthrough theme campaign, under the ‘What an Idea, Sirji’ series was titled ‘Caste War’ and was launched in the second half of 2007. It suggested using the mobile phone number as a person’s identity.

Then came ‘Education for All’ (June 2008), ‘Democracy - For the People, By the People’ (December 2008), ‘Walk When You Talk’ (June 2009), ‘Use Mobile, Save Paper’ (January 2010), ‘Break the Language Barrier’ (August 2010) and ‘Population - No Aabaadi, No Barbaadi’ (July 2011).

‘Talk for India’ (November 2009), launched just before the first anniversary of the 26/11 attacks to collect funds for security personnel, and the mobile number portability campaign ‘No Idea, Get Idea’ (January 2011) were others that helped build the brand.

However, there are many who are not fascinated by the ‘Honey Bunny’ song. Some have taken to Twitter and other social media networking sites to voice their displeasure.

“In the past, Idea’s advertisements – especially the ‘What an Idea, Sirji’ series – had a social message and were for a larger purpose such as education, saving paper and urging citizens to cast their vote,” says Biju Dominic, Chief Executive Officer with FinalMile Consulting, whose firm focuses on influencing human behaviour. “This is a fall from the high ground the company had always maintained. Maybe, they might have improved on the likeability score, and on the communication that influences a user,” Dominic adds.

Many want the core proposition of Idea campaigns and that attempt to educate the masses back.

“To my mind, they shouldn’t discontinue the older Sirji series,” Jagdeep Kapoor of Samsika says.

Idea Cellular has not discarded the Sirji series. “We will look at re-introducing it as and when we get a suitable, relevant and exciting script or idea,” Shankar says.

A user will look for quality of service and service in its entirety, tariffs and connectivity. The campaign does not address any of these, but only emphasises its all-India presence, a Mumbai-based analyst says.

“Now, Idea is present across the country, and that itself will have its impact,” Shankar maintains. Let’s see, Sirji!

(This article was published on December 20, 2012)
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