I have noticed, though, that while there isn't blatant comparative/competitive advertising, a very subtle form does exist. I remember one of the insurance giants did it - depicting the competition in its corporate colour - and hot of the footsteps of such a trend is Telkom.Very gutsy
I really have to give it to the advertising agency that does the ads - it is very gutsy! First, when Neotel leased the premises in Woodmead, Johannesburg, Telkom tactically rented the billboard which was inside its premises for as long as it was there! And all the Telkom ads that lambasted its competitor, they were right under its competitor's nose.
And now Neotel has moved to Midrand, Telkom has rented a billboard right opposite the new premises of its competitor, with a billboard that goes Always exercise caution when you see 'orange'
, and seconds after you've passed the billboard, you see an orange building to your right, the new Neotel premises.
Now, that's classic. You can't take them to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and say that they mocking your brand, now can you? Traffic lights are red, green and orange - red says stop, green says go and orange says caution, they can argue! Clever, no?Very brave client
It's been a while since I have seen such refreshing and thought-provoking advertising in our industry. The client is very brave to approve and allow them to flight.
Now that Neotel has appointed Net#work BBDO as its advertising agency, I must say it has a HUGE task ahead. Not only of turning the brand around, but also of coming up with a clear long-term vision of its new client's brand that would be understood by all consumers across its target market.
It would be interesting to know what its strategy is, because where I'm sitting, Telkom covers both consumer and business (corporate) in its advertising and messaging very distinctly (and now, aggressively); there are no grey areas. Its only flaw (and opportunity for competitors) is that they do not target the children and youth much in their advertising- 'pester power', yes, it does work - kids and youth are the new household decision makers, in case we've forgotten.Needs to spend a lot of budget
Neotel needs to spend a lot of budget to turn this brand and its business around. And, unfortunately for Neotel now, there is a lot of brand communication in the consumer space at the moment, eg the Cell C new brand campaign.
Net#work needs to come up with an 'outstanding' campaign to grab consumer attention while educating it, get the message to its target market, change people's perception about Neotel as a brand, and stand out from the communication clutter - and this is a mammoth task. Is it going to do all of this at the same time and confuse us? Or is it going to take it one day at a time and do a compelling and significant brand campaign? We'll see.
I can't help but wonder what the previous agency was doing. How long was it on the Neotel payroll? And what was it paid for? Gone are the days when agencies used to do only creative, take the money and run, and not add value to client's business. These days, clients are looking for partnerships with their suppliers in business. A partnership means looking after the client's business in all respects, even if its areas not covered in the contract - being proactive and taking the initiative, not waiting for briefs, but writing your own. Advice to the new agency
Advice to the new agency... it looks like Telkom means business, and because of its first-in advantage (we could call it that), it has decided to increase its budget and move in and close up the competition before it starts making noise (kill them before they kill you approach!).
What I know is, consumers are very gullible people and we'd rather stick with the devil we know than the one we don't. It does not matter whether the devil I don't know is cheap and seems to be offering better business or consumer products, the fact remains advertising works
. Period. It can make or break your brand.
I'm a consumer, well, a critical one nogal! 'Til today, I don't know what products Neotel is offering (maybe I'm not the target market). I know it's Telkom's competitor, and maybe the biggest competitor which would give Telkom a run for its money. So, Neotel must get its house in order; if not, Telkom is gonna do it for them. I'd hate to see a merger between the two in future, NeoTelkom! NO! Scary.Good luck
Neotel must loosen its advertising budget and start educating consumers about its offerings and products. I hope the new strategy covers changing attitudes towards Neotel, which requires extensive research, educational programmes, and a different approach which should be relevant, unexpected and memorable. Good luck to the new partnership between Neotel and Net#work BBDO.
It would be interesting, though, to see more of such concepts/ads coming from advertising agencies on FMCG products such as coffees, chocolates, maize meal etc. I'm telling you, I'd have a field day scrutinising them - actually, I'd make it my specialty writing about these ads. I thrive on such clever and gutsy advertising concepts.