Monday, July 25, 2016

Why are network advertisements so misleading?

Claims of the ads are nowhere close to the reality of what the consumers face

Every one of us wears multiple hats and I am no exception. Let me talk about two large hats that I wear that still struggle to hide the shining halo at the crown of my head! One is of a consumer who buys products and services and has a strong point of view. If I am not happy with something I don’t hold back! I tweet till the cows come home! The second is that of a brand consultant who is passionate about advertising and who watches a lot of TV as sometimes I find the advertising a little more interesting than the programs in which they are featured in. Being a consumer of Airtel since the JTM days (a brand Airtel took over) I have been watching Airtel’s advertising with great interest even as the brand pushes the envelope with newer, more creative ads that have no relevance or relation to the ground reality. Increasing my frustration is their abysmal coverage, horrendous service and complete lack of concern for the consumer and that is me! Why haven’t I shifted then? Simply because I am increasingly sceptical about all mobile services in general and Airtel in particular for who would like to go from the frying pan to the fire?

Oh we are so transparent!
The latest in the series of misleading ads is the one that tells you that you know exactly where your tower is and where the gaps are and they keep patting themselves on the back as to how wonderful they are. Here’s the ad which you must have seen and which left me cold.
And why do I say that? Let me tell you my own experience. Both I and my wife are heavy Airtel users for several years and yet the network is appalling in our house. We are invariably a little fitter as we rush out of the house the moment the phone rings. Probably the mobile service operator in their wisdom have decided that we don’t exercise enough. But I did exercise my rights (?) as a consumer by complaining several times. And what does our “transparent” mobile service operator do?  It says there are unable to do anything as there is no tower near my house which leads me to the important point I wish to make now. How is anything going to change? Are you really telling me that a company which is the market leader needs two decades to figure out where the network is poor? And why should I tell them how bad they are? Don’t they know it themselves? And to add insult to injury they are claiming transparency!

Ads have generally been misleading
Before this campaign, Airtel had launched their 4G campaign with great fanfare and proudly announced how it works in the farthest corners of India - in hilly mountains, distant villages and the back of beyond. Sadly, though it does not work in Malabar Hill or Koramangala and as an actual user I just cannot experience any difference between my earlier 3G and my present 4G. Here’s that Airtel girl who lies with a sweet face who thankfully seems to have taken a break

This is my problem with all mobile services. The advertising is clever, interesting and entertaining. But it has no relation to what consumers face. Otherwise why would call drops be such an issue with all of us and Parliament even?  Vodafone too has had very cute ads talking about their service and network, but I continue to experience both their network and service and have been hardly impressed.

What do I expect as a consumer?
So what’s the bottom line? Today, the mobile is an integral part of our life and no one young or old can even imagine life without the mobile.  But the mobile service providers’ cartel is trying to milk the existing networks which are already stretched and painting a rosy picture about the coverage which has no relation to reality. They are like husbands who are taking their spouses for granted and are being extremely casual about our angst and genuine fears and are merely being glib in their attitude and advertising. If Airtel or Vodafone is serious about its business, consumer and way of doing business it must focus on network, coverage and customer service and spend less money, attention and time on advertising. Like a poor student who only concentrates on easy subjects they are focussing on the easy part which is advertising. And that’s the hard part for me as a dissatisfied, angry and frustrated consumer.

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