Inside The Digital Marketing Strategy Of Vodafone For Vivo IPL 2016

Official sponsor of Vivo IPL 2016, Vodafone India has been pushing hard on TV, onground and digital activities to promote its Supernet 4G service


September last year, the Strategy Analytics Survey report informed that India would overtake Japan to be the world’s 3rd largest 4G LTE market by 2016. It will also surpass U.S to be the world’s second largest smartphone market by 2017. This is fueled by the fact that the Indian government has spent USD 32 billion on 4G services.

Earlier this year, research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) revealed smartphone shipments in India crossed the 100 million mark in 2015, with 4G shipments outnumbering 3G ones for the first time ever in Q4. IDC’s numbers showed that in 2015 the Indian smartphone market grew at 28.8 percent to 103.6 million units, positioning itself as one of the fastest growing smartphone markets in Asia Pacific.

4G smartphone shipments crossed 13.9 million units, accounting for more than half of the market in 2015 Q4.

With a booming demand for 4G, telco giants like Airtel and the new kid Reliance Jio are already gearing up to capture the major chunk of mobile data business in India. The country’s second-largest telecom service provider Vodafone India is expecting cellular data services to play a key role in overall growth and to become a revenue driver in next two to three years. However, Vodafone has a 4G data speed which is much lower than market leader Bharti Airtel’s due to its paucity of 4G airwaves, which could pose challenges for the company in differentiating in terms of overall user experience, US brokerage Citi Research said.

Meanwhile Vodafone is investing heavily in high-speed 4G networks, as part of its data-centric business strategy to counter competitors. On the marketing front it revived its original theme with the pug dog as the mascot. Launched ahead of the IPL T20 cricketing tournament, the objective of the new campaign is to highlight the improvements the Britain headquartered company has put in place, especially for its 3G and 4G data services.

Branded as SuperNet, the campaign seeks to take on the competition as the company underlines lower mobile frequencies it is using and optic fibre infrastructure it is deploying to ensure a better data experience. “We are bringing back our favourite icon Pug which symbolizes Vodafone’s network expanse and quality to reinforce the brand promise of staying always connected,” said a Vodafone India spokesperson.

In a throwback to the early films featuring the pug, the campaign featured a little boy with the pug in three 15-seconders conceptualized by Oglvy & Mather. All the films end with the company pitching Vodafone SuperNet 4G as the ‘World’s largest 4G Network’ and inviting customers to upgrade.

This year marks the 9 year long association of Vodafone, the official partner and sponsor (on-air) with Vivo IPL 2016, the only national brand to be associated with it since inception. Through SuperNet the company is trying to project the improved network strength. “We have made several advancements and are now confident of our networks, hence are promising benefits to consumer, which truly reflects the power of SuperNet such as making video calls on a metro station, view and stream HD content. We aim to bring the benefits of SuperNet with this campaign rather than focusing on the attributes,” Siddharth Banerjee - National Head, Brand Communication & Insights, Vodafone India said.

With 35% of its annual marketing budget embarked for IPL 2016, Vodafone has focused primarily on TV, followed by on ground and digital activations. The TVCs launched primarily focus on the SuperNet attributes. For instance watching HD movies on demand, or the video call ad so to stay connected with your besties from anywhere.

Interestingly, the company has kept Chika, its pug, away from the SuperNet TVCs, after using it for the teaser campaign of the 4G services.

Along with TV, digital remains one of the major focus areas for the company. “This year while the campaign will run across all the mediums and several national television channels, it will be supported very strongly by the digital medium, which will include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other mediums. Also, we have a very strong presence on social through Vodafone India & Zoozoo pages,” Siddharth added.

Replying over an email to Lighthouse Insights, he shared a snapshot of the digital activities that are being carried out during the ongoing Vivo IPL 2016. “One of the marquee initiatives this IPL is the Vodafone SuperAlbum. Click a picture with Zoozoo and be part of the Guinness World Record. Spot the adorable Zoozoo at stadiums where the matches are being held and at Vodafone stores near you. Click a picture and become a part of the World’s Largest Online Photo Album with the Mascot.”

This year Vodafone has also created a Cheer Slogan – Hakke Bakke, to help spread the joy and spirit of cricket amongst fans. The anthem is being promoted across all mediums including an online video featuring popular dance artist of film ABCD fame – Lauren Gottlieb.

To promote the cheer slogan, Vodafone has partnered with YouTube video channels like Fame and other influential content properties.

The cheer anthem recently got the much needed boost on social media with celebrities and cricketers joining in and enacting the moves.

As the tournament has progressed, Vodafone has given an opportunity to the fans to become a part of the anthem by introducing the Vodafone SuperCheer activity. “Cheer for your favourite IPL team with specially created Vodafone SuperCheer slogan and spread the joy. Vodafone SuperCheer also invites fans to create a crowd-sourced mash up video of the Vodafone Cheer Slogan. Record the Cheer with Dubsmash or any other relevant medium in your own renditions and become part of a music video with stars.”

Not a new one but a popular activity, the Vodafone SuperFan is back this year too. Vodafone customers can have the experience of watching the IPL match with full hospitality, meet the winning captain and get an autographed match ball too. Customers need to simply SMS SUPERFAN to 199 and the winners are selected basis a lucky draw.

Vodafone is also giving an opportunity to customers participating in the Vodafone SuperFan, to be a part of the Vodafone FanArmy – an activity that allows a group of friends and fans, who want to enjoy the match together and cheer for their team.

As the world over brands are falling for the emoji madness, this IPL, Vodafone launched its Zoozoo emoji on Twitter. Vodafone and Twitter partnered to launch the ZooZoo and the emoji of the Super ZooZoo appeared next to the #BeSuper and #HakkeBakke hashtag in any tweet sent worldwide. Vodafone claims to have generated an estimated 90 million impressions in just 2 days of its launch on Twitter.

“Our partnership with Twitter and the customised brand emojis was yet another step in our ongoing endeavor to make mobile Internet more fun, smart, engaging and easy. This innovative initiative to engage with social media savvy customers saw much success and we will be further integrating these ZooZoo emojis into our marketing and ad campaigns on social media,” he shared.

Over the years Vodafone’s digital activities have evolved much like its business offering. While there is no doubt that TV still holds the larger share of the marketing pie for the company, but Vodafone has tried creating a bridge between on-ground and digital activities. They have become seamless with every year.

A latest Maxus’ IPL 2016 report states that during the first three weeks of IPL, Gionee was the most mentioned sponsor, followed by Ola, Vivo, Yes Bank, Lloyd, and Freecharge. Vodafone’s ‘Super Son’ was the most discussed ad. Vivo’s theme song ‘Ek India Happy Walla’ was the next most talked about spot.

With the IPL getting over its league format, the buzz around Vodafone and its activities should make the brand smile. For now Vodafone is focusing on promoting Vodafone U - ‘a first-of-its-kind lifestyle proposition’, targeted at the socially active young generation.