How to Make Great Ads like Airtel

How to Make Great Ads Like Airtel

Airtel has mastered the art of great advertisements. Their ads are always so uniquely positioned to make you stop and pay attention, whether it is through humor, fantastic storytelling or comedic jingles. 

If it’s not an advert with the inlaws competing with each other, it’s one of Taooma speaking to a tailor who just sewed a dress for her daughter after watching a video online or an emotional piece about how data connection pulls us closer to our family. Their ads are one of their finest offerings. 

Advertising is the lifeblood of a brand and serves as a vital link between the company and its target audience. A business can have great products, but until they can successfully talk about what they have to offer, they might remain on the shelf forever. 

Communication is so important, and Airtel is aware of this, which is why they have invested a lot of resources into their advertisements. When a brand like Airtel consistently creates ads that deeply resonate with their target audience, it’s worth taking a closer look as to what makes them so effective.

In this Learn with Selar article, we will delve into the key elements that set Airtel’s ads apart from the rest and gain valuable insights into the secrets behind creating really good adverts. 

A Little History Lesson

Airtel Nigeria is a telecommunications company that operates in Nigeria. It is said to be the second largest telecommunications company in the country, second to MTN. The company’s history is pockmarked by many changes, making its resilience a marvel. 

In the early 2000s, the Nigerian government decided to liberalize the telecommunications sector and allow private companies to enter the market. Econet Wireless Nigeria was one of the first private telecommunications companies to enter. It received a GSM license in 2001 and launched its services a year later. 

In 2004, the company rebranded to Vmobile, then Celtel International in 2006 after being acquired by a multinational. In 2008, Celtel International rebranded itself as Zain Group to create a unified brand identity across all the countries where Zain operated, but this was shortlived, because in 2010, Bharti Airtel, an Indian telecommunications company, acquired Zain Group’s operations in fifteen African countries, including Zain Nigeria. Following the acquisition, Zain Nigeria underwent another rebranding and became Airtel Nigeria. 

Since becoming Airtel Nigeria, the company has continued to operate as a major player in the Nigerian telecommunications sector, offering a range of services, including voice, data, and mobile banking. It has also been involved in various initiatives to expand its network coverage and improve the quality of its services. 

So why is Airtel a Worthy Case Study?

1. Use of Catchy Tunes and Jingles

The use of catchy tunes and jingles in advertisements is a simple yet effective technique that makes ads memorable. When an ad lingers longer in the customer’s mind, it tends to have a more significant impact and is more likely to achieve its goals.

Airtel has a history of collaborating with really good artists to create memorable jingles for their advertisements. Over the years, these jingles have become quite popular among Nigerians and are sung along by people of all ages. A great example is Airtel’s “444 is a metaphor” which became an instant hit in 2020. *444# is the USSD code that allows Airtel users to recharge from their bank accounts with a single dial. This jingle was great for raising product awareness.

Another great device Airtel employs is the old Nollywood gimmick of telling stories through jingles. Take for instance this Free Your Mind ad featuring Gabriel Afolayan as Igboro. The advert is accompanied by a jingle describing Igboro as someone who does not trust anyone and ends with a voiceover encouraging subscribers not to be like him and to free their minds by using Airtel. This narrative jingle is sure to stick to the minds of those who listen to it, and may subconsciously influence their decision in using the product. 

2. Serial Advertisements 

Serial advertisements are fantastic tools for engagement. They tell a continuous story across multiple ads that keep people emotionally in tune with the overarching story, and curious as to what happens next. Airtel has a few ad series that have stayed in the hearts of their audience, most notably “The In-Laws” and “Igboro.”

The In-Laws is a series following the lives of a stereotypical intertribal family. Lateef marries Amaka, and their parents have to live with them in the same house. This setting is a melting pot for a series of hilarious relatable events across multiple ads. In one advert, Amaka’s mother yells “Selfie time!” at a party and all the women gather to take pictures with her, evoking the image of the ‘happening’ grandmother. In another, Lateef’s mother is seen trying to manage red oil, when her daughter-in-law, Amaka, pulls out another bottle of red oil from the cupboard, with the message: why manage your data when you can choose Airtel?

Igboro is another serial character whose ads usually have the tagline: Free Your Mind, Use Airtel. It works because we can see his character progress across multiple ads. Initially, he is overly suspicious and doesn’t trust people, but then with time he becomes more trusting and enjoys more peace of mind. 

From Airtel, we learn that serial Advertisements are great because:

  1. They are memorable and consistent: It’s a lot easier to tune in when you already know the characters. An emotional connection has already been built and fuels a curiosity for what happens next. Like a book, serial advertisements keep the audience focused on the storyline, and keep them coming back for more.
  2. They are adaptable: The characters already exist so all that is left is to create a situation where they can shine through. With serial characters, Airtel has the flexibility to try many things, which is fantastic for saving resources and gaining engagement. If it works, why change it?
  3. Character development: As with Igboro, and the In-Laws, serial ads allow the product to change the characters in the ads, which reflects the journey the customers might also be undergoing through the product. 

3. Fantastic Storytelling, Great CTAs. 

Storytelling moves the world. Being able to properly convey an idea through a cohesive story, is a wonderful tool that can be used to pull audiences in. Airtel employs amazing storytelling to reel in its audience and cements these with fantastic Call to Actions (CTAs).

Take, for instance, the Ovajara ad where a woman gets pregnant and she and her husband prepare for a baby. The husband believes they will have a girl while the wife believes it will be a boy. In the end, she gives birth to eight children, causing him to faint. The ad is accompanied by a CTA that reads: when life gives you 8x what you asked for, and a voiceover telling customers to get eight times the value on every recharge.

Another great example is the Ghost ad featuring Tomi Ojo.  A woman wakes up one morning and is treated like a ghost by everyone, from the gateman to her colleagues at the office. “Can anybody hear me?” She screams from a rooftop. The next day she connects to Airtel and is “seen” by everyone. The CTA reads “You are invisible without data that works.”

This ability to conjure interesting stories that push a message forward, on the importance of connection and the value that using their product brings to the life of its users is a testament to Airtel’s expert storytelling practice and great value proposition. 

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4. Use of Popular Celebrities and Influencers

One of the key strategies that have helped Airtel achieve enviable acclaim is collaborations with prominent personalities in the country. Airtel understands the importance of leveraging visibility and has partnered with a host of renowned individuals, including Taaoma, Gabriel Afolayan, and more. These collaborations have been immensely successful in generating significant buzz and attention around Airtel’s products and services, thereby helping the company stand out in a highly competitive market. They even partner with the Jingles. Adekunle Gold, Simi, Teni the Entertainer, have all written songs for the company. 

Airtel’s collaborations with these personalities have helped them appeal to the younger generation. With the youth constituting a significant market segment for Airtel, the company has created a strong emotional connection with customers by partnering with personalities that resonate with them. This has not only helped Airtel to build a loyal customer base but also positioned it as a brand that understands and caters to the younger generation.

Overall, Airtel’s strategic collaborations have been a resounding success. These partnerships have helped Airtel to establish a deep and lasting connection with its customers, build a strong brand image, and stand out in a fiercely competitive market.

5. Deep Understanding of Local Environment

Another factor that makes Airtel’s adverts very successful is a deep understanding of the local environment they are targeting. Some of their ads include local slang, and even language, for example, the ad of a yoruba mother praying for her son day and night, thanks to the smartRechage plan that gives her 10x its value, or the ad of an igbo man coming to pay the bride price of his fiancee. 

This use of Nigerian culture and the elements that matter to us in our daily lives makes Airtel ads all the more effective, and gives the company a really good look. 

6. Emphasis on Utility

Airtel has been able to achieve great success by focusing on the utility of its services. Airtel’s emphasis on what it offers has helped the company communicate its value proposition to potential customers more effectively. This approach has helped not only attract new customers but also retain existing ones.

Airtel offers a wide range of services, such as 4G internet, reliable network coverage, and diverse plan options that cater to a diverse customer base. By highlighting how its services meet various customer needs through their ads, Airtel has been successful in connecting with the pain points of their audience.

This emphasis not only shows potential customers the tangible benefits they can gain from choosing Airtel but also makes their ads more engaging and memorable. Airtel’s success can be attributed to its focus on customer-centric services and its ability to communicate the value of these services effectively to its customers.

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7. Experimentation with Different Ad Forms

Airtel has experimented with various ad formats to improve its advertising strategy and reach a wider audience across different platforms. The company has delved into several types of ad formats, including display ads, video ads, audio ads, SMS ads, call ads, and in-app ads, to identify which types are more effective for its advertising goals.

One of the primary benefits of experimenting with different ad formats is that it helps to explore the versatility of each format and its respective advantages. For instance, some ad formats may be more affordable than others, making them a preferable choice for companies with tight advertising budgets. Alternatively, some formats may be more creative or interactive, which can increase user engagement with the ad content and generate better results.

Furthermore, trying out different ad formats allows Airtel to determine which ones resonate the most with its target audience and drive the best outcomes. By analyzing the performance of different ad formats in terms of click-through rates, conversion rates, and other metrics, Airtel can optimize its advertising strategy and allocate its resources more efficiently to achieve its marketing objectives.

Key Takeaways

As Creators, there’s a lot to take away from Airtel’s approach to advertising. Here’s a list we have compiled from everything we shared above:

  1. Personalize your advertisements to the local audience. 
  2. Focus on effective storytelling. The trick is to make your audience forget they are watching an Ad. Comedian Layi Wasabi is really good at this!
  3. Leverage on popularity. It may sound cliche, but familiar faces and voices can be very effective in delivering a message. 
  4. Consider making your advertisements serial in nature. 
  5. Focus on the utility of the product, not just the features. What can your customers use it for? How can it benefit their lives? 
  6. Let your Call-To-Actions shine through!

The success of Airtel’s advertising campaigns is a product of creativity, strategy and customer focus. As creators and marketers, we can learn from Airtel’s strategies in creating advertisements that not only capture attention but also resonate with our target audience. By doing so, we will be able to drive brand engagement and growth.