Tacky, tasteless and unsophisticated, the Jazz campaign to sell ‘xPhones’ uses not only double entendre, it also features sexist imagery — much to the horror of many readers. Mobilink has resorted to the oldest trick in the book and Bollywood actor Nargis Fakhri is supposed to somehow inspire us to buy a previously unknown device. But will this desperation marketing earn the customer’s trust?
Sex sells clothes, mattresses, music and fashion magazines but it is not an obvious recipe to sell technology devices. Apart from objectifying women, the value proposition is totally missing from the campaign. The focus on Fakhri has no relevance whatsoever to the advertised product. So the ad will stick in the craw of most tech savvy users, as for other users... well the ad makers have not even bothered to educate them audience about the product’s features. They have forgotten that this is not an iPhone pitch and they need to do due diligence to ensure the phone is not perceived as an inferior oriental knock-off.
Positioned as a provocative and low-end phone, the only target audience for the brand appears to be a college going girl in her teens. The brand architects have tried to offer the promise that the product will make the user more sexually attractive. However most consumers can smell the bait and will choose to avoid the product altogether. Nargis Fakhri is too old to attract the teenage segment.
The products itself is actually not that bad. All phones are manufactured by Haier and come with an 18 months warranty. The prepaid SIM comes with 2GB of 3G data and a balance of Rs 800. All smartphones run Android 4.4 KitKat and have decent RAM and CPU. Yet the advertisement fails to draw attention to the product. There is no brand story and no core brand message.
Harvard’s Centrality-Distinctiveness (CD) mapping tool can help visualise brand strategies in the smart phone industry. Distinctiveness measures differentiation from other brands and centrality measures how typical a brand is. Highly differentiated brands are aspirational and don’t compete directly with mainstream brands. QMobile, for example, has established itself as somewhat mainstream and competes mainly with Samsung as well as with other smaller brands.
The CD model predicts that Jazz X is a peripheral brand with features similar to other mainstream brands and therefore customers will buy it only as a substitute because of the lower price. Peripheral brands normally survive on a low cost business model and a minimal advertising budget is a key to this. Even if they pour millions into their marketing budget, it is not easy to get customers hooked when they are already locked-in with their respective brand.
Mobilink has to stop using blatant objectification of women in its advertising. The campaign seems to be a lame attempt to fuel controversy and get everyone to talk about the product. The brand team should go back to the drawing and work on the brand persona.
As a peripheral brand, consistency, a targeted campaign and offering value-added features (such as free extended warranties) is what will help in the long run.
The writer is a Cambridge graduate and is working as a management consultant. He tweets at @faranmah