Vodafone: Suicidal advertising!


The mobile giant tried its hand at a campaign that made a tongue-in-cheek claim that it was responsible for the Mubarak ouster. The Egyptians, however, are not amused

Naughty, naughty Vodafone! The cell giant has done something very wicked and very unethical. It ran a commercial in Egypt that tries to claim it was Vodafone that inspired the revolution in that country. But instead of gaining goodwill from the local junta, it is facing a lot of ire as the Egyptians carry out a second revolution of sorts: this time against Vodafone.

The three-minute marathon commercial, titled 'Our Power', carries a collage of shots depicting the uprising in the nation during the people's revolution to oust Hosni Mubarak. To highlight the brand's role, grabs of Facebook and Twitter messages posted by Egyptians to one another, using Vodafone's service, have been carried in the ad. And to keep the logic going, Hosni Mubarak announces his resignation towards the end of the ad. Thus clearly suggesting it was the telecom giant which triggered the historic revolution. And by inference, taking the credit away from the Egyptian citizens, who were the ones who did all the hard work. But as all smart advertisers do, Vodafone has carried a disclaimer that goes: "We didn't send people to the streets, we didn't start the revolution… we only reminded Egyptians how powerful they are."
 
Well, the disclaimer has cut no ice with the people. They are up in arms against the advertiser for this trickery. In fact, media reports indicate some telecom companies acted as the then ruling government's agents, and cut off communication lines during the struggle. One particularly irate Egyptian has this to say (source: The Guardian): "Apparently this tagline inspired people to take to the streets. I mean, never mind the years of activism, the protests, the decades of cumulated grievances, the terrible economic situation, the trampled political freedoms, the police brutality, the torture, etc. Nah-we just watched a Vodafone ad, and thought: 'Hey! We're powerful! Let's topple the president!'"

In the face of massive public anger, Vodafone has decided to distance itself from the ad but the damage is done. In Egypt today, the brand is akin to a bad word. What a fine way to build a brand!

So then what's the lesson for marketers? It's quite simple, actually. While it's all very well to ride the massive social and political upheavals a nation goes through, while it's okay to attach your brand to memorable moments in history (marketers do employ this strategy across the world), one has to be careful not to project oneself as being the catalyst behind those events. The brand involvement must remain at the level of celebration, and no more. Vodafone has learnt this bitter lesson at a huge cost.

One question haunts me, however: Why didn't the Vodafone buggers use the desi Zoozoos to celebrate the Egyptian revolution? These lovely creatures would have made the locals smile and relax a bit. And helped retain Vodafone's goodwill in the nation.
 

 

 

User

COMMENTS

Mukesh Parikh

6 years ago

Some facts about Vodafone India webite:
1) Website is very consfusing, it is very difficult to find a plan.....
2) vodafone have not put up all plans on website or you can say what plan they are selling are not put up on website...
Website shows Blackberry plan Rs.299 and Rs1099
whereas actually they also offer BBM plan of Rs.599 and annual plan of Rs.4999, which you can know only you talk to Cust.Care 111 (paid call)
3) Now funny thing....If you are prepaid BBM subscriber you get unlimited internet for Rs.400 but if you are postpaid subscriber you will have to shell out Rs.599 per month.....

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