Sukanta stars in a TVC script turned into a print ad

UPDATE: September 24, 2020:

Airtel has released another ad in this series, once again, in The Telegraph. Like the previous ad, the tone is interesting for the way the story accepts that Airtel’s network is poor inside the home (homes!), but that it can be set right.

ORIGINAL POST:

This half-page ad on the front page of The Telegraph is from September 15, 2020. I found it very interesting for multiple reasons!

1. No Airtel logo! No prominent Airtel mention either – the brand is only mentioned inside the text! In fact, the only way you may (possibly) guess, at first glance, that it is an Airtel ad is by that colored blob which is almost a standard fixture in all Airtel communication.

2. Really, really long-form story-telling, literally! They are describing a fictional story to prop something about Airtel. It almost reads like the script of a TV advertisement they had intended to shoot, but didn’t and simply published it in print!

3. The ad actually talks about Airtel’s network being bad and not working, not just for Sukanta, but also for a lot of people in his area! All for a reason, of course!

4. The sub-head, “The prompt and courteous response was not something he had expected…” seems like an odd way to frame it. Why did he not expect a prompt and courteous response? Was it middling and rude earlier when he contacted them? He says in the ad that he has been with Airtel for 7 years and I’m reasonably sure he’d have called the customer care at least once in all that time! What kind of response did he really get because of which the current prompt and courteous response seemed unexpected? This seems like a self-goal by Airtel.

5. The customer care person from Airtel (‘Priya’) doesn’t give Sukanta a time for solving the issue and Sukanta keeps calling them up over ‘days’ looking for some resolution! And the solution arrives ‘suddenly one day’! I’m not entirely sure if that lack of clarity does something good for Airtel’s brand, that too in its own ad!

6. The text inside the colored blob does not appear in the story! The sentiment expressed in that dialog cannot even be fit inside the story – there is no context or place for that quote!

7. That hashtag (#JuktiTorkoHok) at the end of the ad is actually in Bangla! Not bad at all, to avoid an English hashtag. But, only one other living soul has used that hashtag, on Twitter (no one on Instagram or Facebook) besides Airtel itself 🙂 It could have just be a caption instead of a hashtag!

Yet, despite some quibbles, I quite liked the ad. It made me take note because of the lack of branding, read like a casual story to draw me in and told me in broad strokes that Airtel’s customer care does help (which has always been by personal experience too, as an Airtel customer for 20+ years).

I wonder if this was an in-house effort or suggested/created by an agency.

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