Idea Cellular case study: From Idea to Vi

With this piece, we take a look at the Idea cellular case study. The brand went from being known as Idea cellular to Vodafone-Idea and finally, today, Vi. We take a look at the birth of the brand, the growth, the golden period and finally the future.

Have you heard this jingle? “you are my pumpkin-pumpkin, Hello honey bunny… I am your dumpling-dumpling, Hello honey bunny… Feeling something-something… Hello honey bunny…”

One of the most famous jingles out there. Remember how it used to get stuck in our head? Yeah, it probably is being played in your head right now. Anyway, this was one of the ads launched by Idea Cellular Ltd. Some of us might be reminiscing the ad and would be wondering what Idea cellular is doing now? What’s new with them at present? 

Don’t worry, we will be looking at all these today. Let’s talk about the Birth of the “Idea” first.

The Idea that gave birth to the “Idea”

Idea Cellular Limited is an Aditya Birla Group company. Founded in 1995, the company was incorporated as Birla Communications Limited and had a license of GSM-based services in Gujarat and Maharashtra Circle. In the subsequent years, however, the organization expanded its business in a joint venture with Birla, the Tata Group, and the AT&T group of the US.

By the year 2002, the company went through various structural changes from changing its name from Birla communication limited to IDEA Cellular Ltd. and the partners sold their respective stakes of the company. At last, the company became the subsidiary of Aditya Birla Group with Malaysia-based Axiata holding around a 20% stake in the company in the year 2008 for 2 billion USD.

Looks like Idea behind naming the company “IDEA” was an idea itself? Anyway, let’s not delve into the philosophy and take a look at how IDEA generated awareness in the market. That is the brilliant ad campaings.

IDEA’s brand SAGA:

While IDEA was expanding PAN India, its advertising efforts majorly focused on three core brand values:Innovation, Stimulation & Liberation’. In 2006, IDEA came up with an advertisement campaign with the tagline “An Idea Can Change your Life” and positioned itself as a brand that connects people. It also had a few of the best punchlines “What an Idea Sir Ji” featuring Abhishek Bachchan in its ad. The brand connected their communication efforts with one of India’s most serious issues back then – lack of connectivity; take a look at the ad below.

Related: Take a look at the cause-related marketing with examples

Next came the “Save Paper” campaign, not only was it innovative and attention-grabbing but also focused on social issues as deforestation was turning out to be a huge problem. The ad campaign represented how a mobile phone can be used to read daily newspapers, making payments, issuing e-tickets, and generating e-bills and thereby saving tonnes of paper every day. Imagine the contribution it might have made to lay the groundwork for Digital India that is today. For all we know, it was the torch-bearer of the Digital India movement.

Related: Take a look at the Paytm case study

Then came one of their most viral campaigns: the “Honey Bunny” ad campaign. It created an uproar in the market. You’d hear people going nuts over this jingle. Some even ahead to use it as their cell phone’s ringtone.

IDEA even collated a set of videos from people around the country singing their jingles in their own unique way. This way, the brand portrayed how people were adopting IDEA as their network around the country. It also tried to portray that if your phone had an Idea Simcard then there will be no network problem by using the punchline “Idea Hai toh… Phone will ring”, What a network.

The Good days of IDEA-Cellular

In August 2015, Idea announced the rollout of its 4G services. It was now competing with Airtel and Vodafone – in a non-monopolistic market. The company relaunched its “What an Idea” campaign taking 4G to the rural areas and empowering people through the usage of 4G services.

All is going well for IDEA but all of a sudden in October 2016, Mukesh Ambani announced the launch of the Reliance Jio and disrupted the entire dynamics of the Indian Telecom sector. Below pie chart shows the market share of different telecom players before the entry of Jio.

Telecom-market-share-before-Jio; source: TRAI

After all, the Indian market is very price sensitive and Jio used it most profitably. Through offering free services for the first few months and then extremely-cheap data and voice calls, Jio was able to capture the significant share of the telecom industry. This is evident from the below pie chart of the post-Jio market share of various telecom players.

In just four years, Jio gained a significant amount of market share. The small players of the industry went extinct/left the market while the rest were acquired by other telecom players, leaving behind the four major market leaders – Airtel, Jio, Idea, and Vodafone.

Related: Take a look at case study of Reliance
The Vodafone-Idea merger: A case study

As a consequence of Jio’s dominance and competition created by it in the telecom sector, Idea Cellular and Vodafone India joined hands to retail their market share. It was decided that both the brands will continue to operate under their ongoing brand names as they have strong consumer affinity across the metro, urban, rural, and deep interior markets. The merger was also committed to creating a truly ‘Digital India’ by enabling millions of citizens to connect, join the digital revolution, and build a better tomorrow.  

On the occasion of the merger of Vodafone-Idea, Mr. Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman Aditya Birla Group and Vodafone Idea Limited, said,

Today, we have created India’s leading telecom operator. It is truly a historic moment. And this is much more than just about creating a large business. It is about our Vision of empowering and enabling a New India and meeting the aspirations of the youth of our country. The “Digital India”, as our Honourable Prime Minister describes it, is a monumental nation-building opportunity. As Vodafone Idea, we are partnering in this initiative by building a formidable company of international repute, scale, and standards.”

As per the decision, to operate with their existing names both the companies launched several ad campaigns to increase their market share focusing on providing better network availability and 4G services.

But looks like this is yet another long haul, the incessant investments that Jio is raising from around the World, specifically, from the brands like Google and Facebook, almost makes the comeback for other players improbable. It literally went from no market share to almost 35% today.

The second wind: Vi rebranding

Recently, Vodafone-Idea unveiled a new brand identity with a new name and logo Vi. As per Vodafone Idea, their new brand name using just the initials of the two companies’ which makes the new logo short & simple and represents the spirit of integration. Also, with their new tagline – Together for Tomorrow, the organization is trying to give a strong message about its future.

However, as soon as the company made the news public about their rebranding, there was a lot of social media buzz. Not to mention the hilarious memes. Even the rival Reliance Jio took to Twitter to welcome the new identity.

Along with the new logo, the company also launched a new advertisement to create awareness. Vi has tried to reposition itself back in the spotlight.

 On the Vi rebranding Ravinder Takkar, the Group’s MD and CEO, said

The brand integration not only marks the completion of the largest telecom merger in the world but also sets us on our future journey to offer world-class digital experiences to 1 Billion Indians on our strong 4G network… With Vi, we are confident of building a brand that continues to command respect and trust, and will be admired and loved by all,”

If we try and spot the nuances of this message, looks like their aim is to capture the unexplored rural segments leveraging the “Digital India” movement. It would be interesting to see what’s next; there are theories that things are not going to end well. With AGR-Dues looming threat to Vodafone’s existence, only future will say what’s next.

In any case, Idea Cellular limited has transcended a long path from being Birla Communications Ltd to at present Vi. Their future is bound to that of Vodafone’s – only time will tell what’s next in store for them.

The Author

The author of this piece is Yuvika Teotia, a student at FMS-BHU. If this piece added value to you, share it with your best friend on WhatsApp.

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