India’s top two telecom operators – Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel – are preparing aggressive marketing plans ahead of the festive season for their respective 5G services, which are scheduled to launch by the Diwali festival in late October.
Both telcos will together spend a bulk of Rs 350-400 crore ($50 million) in festive-season advertising, the Economic Times reported, citing Indian media planners.
Vodafone Idea, which is currently going through a tough financial phase, will also be active around the festive season but will not be as aggressive as its bigger rivals.
Airtel to lead on 5G ad spend
Vodafone Idea is already running television campaigns and other marketing activities to halt subscriber churn on its network. However, the campaign largely revolves around its 4G services at a time when Airtel and Jio will be talking about their high-speed 5G networks.
Cash-strapped Vodafone Idea recently said it can launch 5G services only after it secures fresh bank loans and finalises 5G network gear procurement deals with multiple suppliers.
Airtel is expected to lead media spending in the category, the report added.
Notably, telcos were previously expected to spend as much as Rs 700 crore ($89 million) on media spending to support their 5G services in FY23. However, with no clarity on Vodafone Idea’s 5G strategy, the total media spending number is now expected to be lower.
“I don’t see a point in having a big-bang campaign focusing on 5G right now … It’s likely that TSPs like Airtel will have a big festive season campaign, signalling the arrival of 5G, but for dedicated 5G campaigns, all three will wait to iron out chinks that come with the rollout of any new tech,” a media planner was quoted as saying by the publication.
Omnichannel ad strategies
Other than TV ads, Indian telcos will largely focus on media platforms such as digital and out of home channels, the latter of which comprises hoardings, bus shelters and store fronts. These targeted and localised mediums will allow telcos to communicate to target audiences in geographies where they launch 5G first.
This festive season, telecom companies may spend on three major properties – the FIFA World Cup, the ICC-T20 World Cup and the game show “Kaun Banega Crorepati”,
Airtel could become the first Indian telco to roll out high-speed mobile broadband service. Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal said in a letter to Airtel customers last week that the telco expects to launch 5G services “within a month”, with coverage in key metros by December, and coverage for all of urban India by the end of 2023.
Reliance Jio has announced plans to commercial 5G launch in four cities by Diwali: Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. It plans to launch 5G across the country covering all towns and villages by December 2023.