Disclaimer: This is an example of a student written essay.
Click here for sample essays written by our professional writers.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UKEssays.com.

Strategies Of Major Players In The Indian Telecom

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Marketing
Wordcount: 3805 words Published: 1st May 2017

Reference this


Wireless telephony brought in a revolution of sorts in India when it entered in the 1990’s.

Initially marketed as a luxury the common man could not afford, telecom services became big when Reliance made it affordable and accessible to all with its Re.1/min plan. Today with a subscriber base of 670 million, telecom has become a major contributing factor to the Indian economy. Telecom still has huge scope for growth as the teledensity in India is not very high. All these factors have given rise to huge competition and telecom services companies are fighting it out to increase their subscriber base. In such a scenario, advertising has had a vital role to play for the telecom services companies, that of a means to build their brand image and communicate with their subscribers. Despite of the heavy competition, how some of the telecom majors have managed to carve an identity for themselves through effective advertising is the subject of study for this paper. The advertising strategies of some successful advertisers like Vodafone, Airtel and Idea have been analyzed and discussed. Vodafone entered India in 2007 and had an uphill task of rebranding Hutch to Vodafone. But how it managed this successfully and has continued to come up with unique campaigns like the ZooZoo ads which was a phenomenon in itself is one of the cases for study in the paper. The paper also discusses the advertising strategies of market leader Airtel and also those of Idea whose ‘What an Idea’ campaigns have been a huge success.

Get Help With Your Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!

Essay Writing Service


1. Introduction……….5

Indian Telecom Sector…………………………………………………………………………………….6

Role of Advertising…………………………………………………………………………………………..9

Advertising in the Indian Telecom Sector………………………………………………………..11

Analysis of the Advertising Strategies of Three major Telecom Brands in the Indian Telecom Services………………………………………………………………………………..12




The Indian telecom sector is one of the largest and fastest growing sectors in the world. With a vast proportion of the population still not connected wirelessly, telecom has huge potential of growth in India. This has lured many major corporate players to foray into telecom to capture and service these untapped segments. To cope with the high competitiveness in the field, telecom companies have been coming up with new, innovative advertising strategies with the assistance of their ad agencies to communicate with their audience. Each of the major players has been able to differentiate themselves from the other by connecting with the customers at different levels. This paper studies some of the advertising strategies adopted by major telecom players like Vodafone, Airtel and Idea.

Objectives of the study

The major objectives of the study are:

1. To perform an in depth analysis of the marketing strategies of three major telecom players in India namely Airtel, Vodafone and Idea

2. To study the key differentiators between the brands from the advertising perspective

3. Review some of the major ad campaigns of these major companies



The Indian Telecom Industry is the fastest growing telecom industry in the world and it is second only to China in terms of the number of wireless connections. The Indian telecom industry has played a key role in India’s rapid economic growth. India has a strong mobile subscriber base of 670.60 Million as of Aug2010. It is projected that India will overtake China in terms of number of subscribers by 2013 with a predicted subscriber base of 1.159 billion mobile subscribers.

The telecom revolution in India gained momentum after private players were allowed to enter in through privatization in the 1990’s. The TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) was setup after 1995 to deal with regulatory issues and increasing competition. Foreign investment was encouraged. All this paved way for the telecom revolution in India.

With 15 million new connections per month, the telecom business in India is booming and has further potential of growth because of the market that still remains untapped. The teledensity in India stands at 49.50, so there is still a long way to go.

Major Players in the market

Competition is high with a number of national and regional players. In terms of subscriber base and market share of GSM services, Airtel with 93.92 million subscriber base remains the largest GSM operator followed by Vodafone, BSNL, and Idea with subscriber base of 68.77 million, 46.71 million and 38.89 million respectively. The subscriber base and market share of different GSM operators as on 31st March 2009 is displayed in Figure 1.

In CDMA services, Reliance with 52.65 million subscriber base remains the largest CDMA operator followed by Tata and BSNL with subscriber base of 35.12 million and 5.44 million. The subscriber base and market share of different GSM operators as on 31st March 2009 is displayed in Figure 2.

Arrival of 3G

The 3G, third generation services will soon be available in India, as the auction of spectrum licenses for third-generation (3G) services was completed successfully with the winning bids for 3G spectrum totalling to Rs. 67,710 crore , against the government’s original expectation of Rs. 35,000 crore . Tata DoCoMo and Bharti Airtel, will be rolling out 3G services by year end. The 3G services will provide the mobile subscribers in India with a faster and more robust Internet, and better access to data services including e-commerce, social networking and telemedicine.


Advertising as defined by Philip Kotler is, ‘Any paid form of nonperson presentation & promotion of ideas, goods, services by an identified sponsor’. Advertising has one of the most important roles to play in the success of brands because it is generally your first interaction with the customer and a first impression is the last impression. Advertising in India, is a 21,000 crore industry. The importance of advertising is growing due to large number of reasons. Competition is rising continuously and the customer has wide options to choose from, thus making your brand’s presence not only felt but strongly established is absolutely essential. Also the growth of the television industry and online media has given a boost to advertising.

In such an age of high competition, when hundreds of crores invested in advertising is at stake, communicating your message right to the customer is crucial. If the advertising strategy is not right, you may end up hampering the image of your brand instead of improving it and recovering from the aftereffects of a poor ad campaign takes long. So advertising strategies have to be devised well because not only money but also the brand image is at stake.

The advertising strategy starts, first and foremost, with the defining of the goal or objective. An advertising goal is a specific communications task and achievement level to be accomplished with a specific audience in a specific period of time. The objectives behind a campaign could be different for different companies at different points of time and different stages of the product lifecycle.

The objectives could be one of the following:

Information: Aim is to create brand awareness and knowledge of new products or new features of existing products.

Persuasion: Persuasive advertising aims to create liking, preference, conviction, and purchase of a product or service.

Reminder: Aims to stimulate repeat purchase of products and services.

Reinforcement: Reinforcement advertising aims to convince current purchasers that they made the right choice.

Once the advertising objective is set, the budget is decided and the advertising campaign developed and communicated through various media and the last step is to measure the effectiveness of the campaign.

In today’s scenario when competition is high and companies are fighting it out to gain market share, advertising has a major role to play and the telecom services sector is no different. Infact, the telecom sector ranks second in when it comes to yearly advertising spends, the first being the automotive industry.


Advertising spends in India saw a 32 per cent surge in the first quarter of 2010 according to a Nielsen study and telecom sector had major contribution to make to this growth in advertising.

The Indian telecom services sector is a booming industry. The Indian telecom market is highly competitive with all the players trying to increase their subscriber base with all kinds of schemes and offers. Telecom service providers keep adding subscribers by millions every month. Promotion has a major role to play and that’s where advertising kicks in.

The telecom service providers are leaving no stone unturned to attract potential subscribers and retain the existing ones. Advertising serves a number of purposes; the most important being connecting with the customers and developing a bond and the most common being keeping people updated about new schemes and offers that companies keep churning out almost every day.

The telecom companies have been among the leading ones when it comes to advertising spends across almost all media be it the print media or TV or outdoor. In 2009, the telecom sector’s ad spends across TV, press and radio was around Rs 1,200 crore. With the onset of 3G, the advertising in telecom is about to go up with companies coming up with new campaigns and strategies to promote their 3G services. Advertising in the telecom space is expected to see a spike of almost 50 per cent in the next six months, because of the onset of 3G, against an average annual growth expected to be around 30-32 per cent.

The point to be noted is that even when all the telecom majors have flooded all kinds of media with their commercials they have somehow been able to differentiate their telecom strategies. For example, Vodafone has always used non human characters like the pug or the ZooZoos in its advertisements, whereas Airtel focuses on human relationships. Idea on the other hand has been giving out social messages through its ads and Tata Docomo appeals to the youth with ideas for their ads coming from customers themselves.


Here in the advertising and communication strategies of three major players namely, Airtel, Vodafone and Idea have been studied and analyzed.


Vodafone remains unbeatable when it comes to advertising in the telecom sector. Vodafone’s journey began in India in 2007 when Vodafone acquired the controlling stake from Hutchison Telecom International Ltd. Currently Vodafone Essar is jointly owned by Vodafone with a 67% stake and Essar Group with 33% stake. It is the second largest mobile phone operator in terms of revenue, second to Airtel, and third largest in terms of subscribers.

Rebranding Hutch to Vodafone

The immediate challenge that Vodafone faced after entering India was rebranding Hutch to Vodafone. Hutch was itself a well established and recognised brand and its most loved factor was the pug. It was not easy integrating Vodafone with Hutch because of the striking difference between the images of the two brands. Hutch was a subtle, understated brand, and on the other hand Vodafone was a brand that represented high energy and dynamism which is well represented by its bright red speech mark logo.

Vodafone carried out an enormous communication exercise to achieve a seamless transition from Hutch to Vodafone. There were two objectives of the campaign:

To announce the entry of Vodafone into India and

Highlight the metamorphosis of Hutch into Vodafone.

To show the transition from Hutch to Vodafone, O&M the ad agency for Vodafone and Hutch launched an ad showing the pug in a garden, moving out of a pink kennel (which represented Hutch) a into a red one (which represented Vodafone). The ad concluded with the message, ‘Change is good. Hutch is now Vodafone’.

The colour red was the highlighted throughout the campaign and was used as a visual mnemonic to remember the brand by. A newer, more energetic and vibrant version of the ‘You and I’ tune of Hutch was used for the campaign to symbolise the dynamism of Vodafone.

The print ads, in all major languages in several leading dailies, were kept unbelievably simple: a still shot of the pug inside a red kennel.

The idea behind the entire campaign was to ensure that people don’t forget the old brand; rather, they welcome the new brand as an improvement over the older. The campaign was a huge success with a day-after brand recall of 80%. It was proclaimed by the industry and media as one of the best brand-launches in the country and is used as a benchmark for rebranding strategies at Vodafone.

The Zoo Zoo Campaign

The ZooZoo ad campaign created by O&M for Vodafone, released during the IPL season 2 was a phenomenal success. The ZooZoo campaign had these eggheaded characters called Zoo Zoos.

The campaign had 29 short ads of about 30 seconds each speaking about the different value added services offered by Vodafone in the form of short stories. . The ZooZoos were different, strange yet simple, warm and lovable. These ZooZoos made the message more charming.

The campaign was a massive success and Vodafone had finally arrived with the ZooZoo campaign. The strategy was simple, while Hutch spoke of the strong network with the punchline ‘Wherever you go, our network follows’, Vodafone emphasised on the VAS(value added services ),it provided. The communication was kept simple in the ZooZoo ads.Each ad spoke of one VAS at a time, so people were not bombarded with a lot of information at the same time. Also these ads were released in intervals during the IPL so it did not get monotonous. The little stories were told visually which had a better impact and the ZooZoo characters were funny and adorable. The audience immediately connected with the ZooZoos and the fan following was so huge that Vodafone went ahead and released ZooZoo merchandise.

Find Out How UKEssays.com Can Help You!

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.

View our services

These two examples clearly show how Vodafone went about using advertising successfully first to inform Indians of its entry into India and then to change the positioning from network strength as associated with Hutch to VAS. Vodafone still continues to come out with some very effective and unique advertisements which make it one of the most successful marketers in India and the most admired brand in 2009, followed by the then leader Hindustan Unilever.


Airtel is the market leader in the telecom service sector with a subscriber base of 93.92 million.

The advertising strategy used by Airtel is very different from that of Vodafone. Airtel focuses on the very basic use of the mobile that is for communication. Through its advertisements, Airtel emphasises on the importance of communication and expressing feelings and emotions. This is reinforced by its tagline which is ‘Express Yourself’. Another element clearly visible in the Airtel ads is the human element .Airtel focuses on human relationships. Be it that of a grandson and a grandfather or between a husband and his wife. Airtel has thus used the basic emotions of communication and expression as a differentiator to connect deeper with the audience.

The message that comes across through Airtel ads is that there is always a need to communicate with your loved ones, need to be heard or make your point and Airtel helps you do that in the most expressive way, anywhere, anytime.

Bharti, in 2004, had announced bringing all its services under the flagship Airtel brand. Mobile, landline and broadband services were brought together under one roof of Airtel. There was a need to unify these various services which till now where being treated differently. ‘Express yourself’ helped the brand to unify and connect across its varied base of existing and prospective customers.

Another important strategy adopted by Airtel is that of using celebrity power for endorsements. Airtel has had Sachin Tendulkar to Shahrukh Khan as its brand ambassadors and the signature Airtel tune was created by A.R.Rahman.

The Recent Airtel Makeover

Airtel is currently undergoing a makeover and has recently unveiled its new logo. It is the first step in Airtel’s strategy to acquire a new international identity. With the acquisition of the African operations of Kuwait’s Zain Group in 15 countries Airtel now will be in 18 countries, and hence felt a need for rebranding as it is now going international.

The new logo would be launched for Indian as well as overseas operations to bring synergy among the company’s business ventures.

The new logo features a swoosh along with the brand name ‘airtel’. Red continues to be the dominant colour in the logo. The whole re-branding exercise is being carried out by J Walter Thompson (JWT) and the investment runs into hundreds of crores.

According to Airtel’s website:

“Our new international identity has been specially crafted to appeal to a more dynamic & demanding audience. At the same time, it retains the core elements of what has made our brand a market leader.”

“Our unique symbol is an interpretation of the ‘A’ in Airtel. The curved shape and the gentle highlights on the red color make it warm and inviting, almost as if it were a living object.”


Idea today is the third largest GSM operator in India. Idea has used the’power of ideas’ to communicate with its customer base. The ad campaigns like the ‘What an idea sirji’ campaign with Abhishek Bachchan, its brand ambassador playing Sirji, tries to bring to fore innovative ways to use the cellular technology for the societal, environmental and human good. Idea’s advertising strategy goes beyond the basic needs that it can satisfy like network strength or customer support and talks about how wireless telephony can add value to our lives and have a positive impact; all through the power of ideas. Th Idea campaigns; ‘Championing a world without caste’; ‘Education for All’, ‘Participative Governance’, ‘Walk When You Talk’ ,’Use Mobile, Save Paper’ addressed subjects such as Caste War, Education, Democracy, Health, Environment respectively. Now, breaking linguistic barriers in the country is the next big Idea!

Thus Idea, through its advertising communicates to its customers uses of the mobile phone technology to solve some everyday problems that the common man faces through some simple yet powerful ideas. Thus the strategy adopted here is to differentiate by using societal marketing.


Thus advertising strategies have seen a transformation over the years in the telecom arena where earlier the focus was on good network coverage, or customer support etc. But today, the telecom companies try to connect to their users at a level deeper than that because it is important to build a bond, a long lasting relationship with the customer to retain them .With number portability coming soon, it has become all the more important to communicate well and establish a bond of trust and faith with customers. Some try to do this by showing concern for issues that society faces today, or by appealing to the customers emotionally. Newer players like Uninor which came up with tariff rates that keep changing dynamically with areas and Tata Docomo which became an instant hit because of its per second billing concept have used their low tariff rates as their differentiator and have tried to reach out to the Indian youth . In the light of 3G services coming into India, and all the acquisitions happening overseas, advertising strategies of telecom majors will again undergo changes. Leader Airtel already is undergoing a makeover and has come up with a new logo appeal to its international customers. Another interesting thing to be taken note of is the use of newer and different media for advertisements. Online advertising is fast catching up, and so is the use of social media like Twitter and Facebook to stay connected to customers.

In the current digital age, when people are exposed to so much of information and advertisements, it is vital to keep the message that you wish to communicate to your targeted audience simple and effective. At the same time, it is important that whatever new information you wish to communicate, which could be about some new schemes, or some new VAS or now 3G is sent across to the customer properly.

As the competition in the sector is tough, companies are shelling out crores of rupees on advertising, but to avoid information clutter and to make themselves seen, heard and recalled is a challenge that advertising in the Indian telecom sector is facing.


Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have your work published on UKEssays.com then please: