There was a time when Chinese products were associated with inferior quality and frequently garnered negative comments such as ‘Yeh toh China ka maal hai.’ However, more recently, Chinese products have shed these negative associations, and Xiaomi is one such brand that has made significant waves with their campaign, ‘Sab Ko Redmi Chahiye’, (‘Everyone wants Redmi’), promoting the Redmi 12C mobile phone.
For context, Xiaomi officially entered the Pakistani market in 2016 and in 2022 they started to produce smartphones in Pakistan; before that, Xiaomi phones were available in the grey market.
The ‘Sab Ko Redmi Chahiye’ campaign kicked off in mid-June and is expected to run until the end of August. The TVC is about a young man called Nabeel who is constantly trying to talk to a girl (his love interest?) on his Redmi 12C but is repeatedly interrupted by his own family members. His older sister wants Redmi 12C because it has a large display, his younger brother wants to play a game on it and even his neighbour wants to use it. All the while, Nabeel’s mother keeps imploring him to submit to each person’s request – which he begrudgingly does. The mother’s repeated requests add a comic touch and reinforce the tagline.
Muhammad Ali, CEO, Visual Prophecy (Xiaomi’s creative agency) says that the brief was to create a witty and engaging ad to reinforce the tagline ‘Sab Ko Redmi Chahiye’. Ali adds that one of the challenges in producing the ad was the casting, particularly finding the right people to enact Nabeel and his mother. In particular, “finding the right mother took a lot of time and deliberation. Gohar Sultana (the mother) exudes a certain aura and, even though she doesn’t say much, she fits into the role perfectly.”
Muhammad Hasnain, Senior Brand Manager, Xiaomi, underlines the fact that the “character of the mother was very important and Hisham Bin Munawar (the director) was particular about finding the right actor to fit into the role. It did not matter how well-known the actor was; what was important was ‘pulling off the expressions.’” Another challenge was finding the right location, one that was reflective of “the living space of a large middle-class family.’”
Hasnain adds that the campaign reinforces the image Xiaomi has been cultivating for the past 18 months. Before that, he says, “We focused on dancing, singing and catering to Gen Z, but now, we have pivoted to storytelling because such ads have better recall. This ad also fits the brand image of Xiaomi as an affordable phone with good features and specifications. The agency came up with the tagline of ‘Sab Ko Redmi Chahiye’ originally and we were immediately sold on the idea.”
Hasnain says that for some models, the company adapts global campaigns, tailoring the messaging according to the country they are released in. However, since this is a mid-tier phone aimed at the Pakistani market, they opted to produce the entire campaign in Pakistan.
Although the campaign primarily targets SEC B, it also aims to cater to a wider demographic. According to the agency, the target audience ultimately consists of people who want a good-quality phone but do not have a lot of spending power. “We are targeting people across the country,” emphasises Ali. “This is an ‘entry-level’ phone and usage is split equally between urban and rural areas, and our male-to-female ratio is approximately 60:40. Our communication strategies to reach urban and rural areas remain predominantly digital with this campaign, although the platforms differ. For example, to reach rural areas and smaller cities, we focus on TikTok and for urban areas, we use Instagram and YouTube.”
Hasnain identifies Oppo, Vivo and Samsung as competitors, although he adds that Redmi 12C is an all-round device with a good battery and camera. At the time of writing, the Redmi 12C (4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage) variant is available for Rs 30,999 while the (4GB RAM and 128GB internal storage) variant is priced at Rs 33,999. “Unlike previous campaigns where the low-price element was emphasised, this time it was crucial not to hammer the price point as much, as Pakistanis tend to equate low price with inferior quality. Instead, we focused on the features and concentrated on the tagline to increase recall.”
According to him, no one in the market is offering phones with Helio G85 processors (which the Redmi 12C has) in the price range offered by Xiaomi. “Phones have recently become pricier, putting them out of reach for the average Pakistani customer. This is why this model was highly anticipated and continues to be in high demand.”
As perceptions about the quality of Chinese phones have pivoted, the market share of Chinese mobile brands in Pakistan has grown and Hasnain puts their penetration at approximately 80%. He points out that the “element of inferior quality is no longer attached to Chinese phones. Once Huawei entered the Pakistani market, it provided a major boost to the image of Chinese phones. In fact, Xiaomi’s interface is no less than that of Korean brands.”
Hasnain is optimistic about the future of the smartphone business. “The cellular industry is a growing segment with great potential for expansion as currently, 55% of people in Pakistan have a smartphone and this figure could reach 85% in the next 10 years due to the rapid pace of digitisation and the fact that the internet and smartphones have infiltrated even remote areas. As a result, now is an excellent time to invest in Pakistan. In fact, because of the market’s potential, companies such as Samsung, Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo have prioritised Pakistan.”