So when Zong launched a lot of people made a mockery out of the fact that they only had an in-house advertising department and were not, infact, working with agencies. It was almost like people in denial as employees of ad agencies repeatedly judged, analyzed and mocked every small mistake in their early times.
But the telco seems to be laughing the last laugh along with the rest of the nation now as their delightfully fresh commercials become the talk of the town, causing them to gain 1 million new customers in the first 4 days. I really dont think the Mobilink and Telenor theatrical ads have ever given them a similar result.
These ads nailed down pretty much everything I’ve been trying to advocate about advertising here for the past two years. Lets break it down and discuss what these were.
Its a people connection
The Zong ads are a human-to-human message. They arent pretentious in giving out a "all powerful company" to "consumers" message. There’s a guy, who thinks, speaks and acts like me.
Being consumer-oriented is a strategy that most MNCs are deathly afraid of (thats another post though), but introducing ads that the large subset of people can relate to has been incredibly successful for Zong – you want to care about Zong because they want to care about you.. simple!
It picks on Cultural Memes
Cultural memes isnt enough to say "CHAPPAR PHAR KAY" as loudly as you possibly can, then giggling about how much of a rebel we are for saying it. Its also not about reminding us of our heritage of values through emotional key messages ("wah beta… kya yadein taza ho gaye apnay bachpan ki").
Connecting with culture comes from being candid about how people are already speaking to each other, not by pointing to the past or to pseudo-hip things. The idea is to use culture as culture – i.e. it should just be a small part of the interaction, not the punchline.
The "naach naach key plans bechnay" was becoming a meme and by just pointing to it they were able to immediate establish the credibility they needed.
When looking at the ad, they’ve designed it in a way so as to feel transparent and honest… its just a person speaking with empathy. Even though they arent not actually fully transparent, (e.g. the "12 aanay" isnt transparent because 12 sounds lower than 75 paisas which competitors are charging, and this is for 30 seconds too). But compared to competing ads, where the entire focus is on how that telecos’ "group" is having so much fun in their "exclusive club" because of something "mysterious" about that teleco, this approach seems to work much better.
Its a conversation
Anyone working in social media will tell you that if you aren’t able to shed the "look at me, I’m a big company" persona and get down to the people’s level and TALK to them, you will get killed, and that is precisely what these ads will do to other telecos.
Its actually about U
There’s an unwritten rule of the world. If you run around saying "I’m an expert on this subject" no one will believe you to be. Your credibility depends on talking instead about the subject matter and letting people decide.
If you run around shouting and jumping "I’m all for U!" no one will believe you. Its better to make sure to talk in way that makes it seem like it truly is for people’s benefit.
The image below summarizes this.
Others following suit
Hot on the heels of Zong, Ufone seems to be the next company attempting this type of an honest ad, and I hope others follow. Enough theatrics, enough maulla-juttingness (if thats a term), we need stories that we can emote with.