How Telcos Leverage Campaigns to Maintain Market Shares


Business/Brand & Marketing 

With the way promoters of telco brands are rolling out campaigns in the last few months, the brands appear set for another round of competition. Raheem Akingbolu reviews a few of the campaigns

Since the arrival of the Global System of Mobile (GSM) communications, the fortune of the marketing communication industry has continuously been on the increase. By implication, the impact of creativity on the growth of telecommunications brands and their products, have sent wake-up call to other brand owners to look outside the box and solve their marketing challenges through topnotch marketing solutions.

As competition thickens in the telco market, the players seem to have gone back to the drawing board and identify impactful advertising as a launch pad to win consumers’ loyalty.


Through a New Year thematic campaign tagged “Turn-It-Up,” MTN has simply gone back to the basis and reconnected with Nigerians. The campaign tries to change and improve the quality of lives by encouraging Nigerians to rethink and embrace a new approach that reflects the changing dynamics of the world around them.

Speaking at the unveiling in Lagos, Chief Marketing Officer, MTN Nigeria, Rahul De, admitted that the brand wanted Nigerians to excel and attain their dreams and aspirations. This, according to him is what drives MTN to continue investing and exploring opportunities for Nigerians.

With the new campaign, MTN is telling Nigerians; ‘Don’t look too far; the opportunities you seek are closer than you think’.

The MTN success story is due largely to the vision, mission and commitment of its operators in establishing a market leadership position for itself.

The history of the brand can be said to revolve around effective use of communication. When MTN launched into the market, its PR account was handled by Corporate and Financial, while the advertising brief was handled by TBWA/Concept Unit. The two agencies launched the brand aggressively into the market with the pay-off line ‘Best Connection’.

In April 2005, it launched ‘Everywhere You Go’ to harmonise and create a universal brand promise in all MTN operations across the continent.

Still yearning for top of the mind presence, the brand went into its creative kitty to launch the ‘Go’ campaign with a view to positioning the Telco as a company that encourages men and women to go and conquer the world, knowing that man desires to live a better life, desire a secured future, progress and change.

‘Everywhere You Go’ was said to have been anchored on MTN’s core values of leadership, integrity and can-do spirit. However, due to the company’s leadership on coverage and market share, in the Nigerian market, consumers’ interpretation of the pay-off was seen to have emanated more from a geographical rather than a brand philosophy perspective.


Glo has since its launch in 2003 remained a respected brand driven by passion for excellence in service delivery. In campaigns and brand promise, it has maintained a larger-than-life imagery.

Perhaps to consolidate its existing status, the brand, has again gone extra mile by drafting in the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, Anthony Joshua, for the second time, as the face of the brand. In its latest campaign, Glo seems to be telling Nigerians to draw inspiration from the World Champion.

The campaign that is currently running is a follow up to the last year’s Anthony Joshua television commercial (TVC), where the world heavyweight boxing champion boisterously demonstrated the intrinsic values of having a reliable ally in one’s corner. It was a slice of life that jogs memories about the significance of effective partnerships.

Globacom had, in February 2019, released the original copy of an endorsement television commercial by Anthony Joshua, which ignited a fire of patriotism in Nigerians all over the world.

The second version of the TVC encapsulates how Nigerians in different geo-political zones across the country were not only enamoured by the remarkable odyssey of Anthony Joshua but also drew inspiration from his bricklayer to world champion story. The people, who followed the AJ narrative with rapt attention, leveraged the superiority and nationwide 4G spread of Globacom to follow the story.

In the sequel TVC, a University of Lagos female student was spotted watching the Anthony Joshua commercial. And she is followed by a teenage boy, who is also seen savouring the TVC from the comfort of his father’s sitting room. The TVC then dovetails to fishermen throwing their net for a harvest in Lagos. The commercial cruises to a not-too prosperous tailor in Aba tapping inspiration from Anthony Joshua’s message. This is swiftly followed by a group of female basketballers drawing wisdom from Joshua’s message in Port Harcourt, where some lady basketballers were jointly watching Joshua’s message on an iPad on the court. This is closely followed by a classroom setting in Sokoto where students gathered to watch Joshua’s message on a laptop. A young boxer also took tutorials from the world champion and he later won his bout while a lady executive in Abuja was also shown watching the message on her phone.

The voyage of the TVC to the aforementioned cities is a clear testimony to the nationwide coverage of the Glo 4G, rated as Number 1 in the country in view of its spread and coverage. The intention of Glo to draw allegory as the number one in superior data coverage with the ascendancy of Anthony Joshua as the world’s number one boxer is unmistakable.

The synopsis of the Anthony Joshua TVC is pegged on the enthusiastic announcement of his status as a Nigerian backed by a mega Nigerian telecommunication brand, Globacom.

Anthony Joshua reveals the similarities between him and Glo. Some of these include the never-say-die, unlimited, can-do spirit of Globacom. Celebrating the striking semblance, AJ said, “You need strength? Yeah, that comes from the hard knocks that life throws at us. And we are Nigerians, we know all about that.”

He goes on to compare life challenges with boxing, saying “You don’t stay down, you’ve got to fight. You have to dig deep to be a world champion”.

In another campaign, the trio of Juju maestro, King Sunny Ade, Bolaji Amusan popularly called “Mr. Latin” and Wale Akorede aka “Okunnu” are the prominent characters featured in the new sequel television commercial recently released by Globacom to promote its Glo Amebo offer that gives subscribers five times the value of recharge to call all networks.

The commercial begins with Madam Amebo, acted by the legendary Ibidun Allison, of the classic Village Headmaster fame, chatting with her daughter, acted by Yvonne Jegede, who is preparing for a party, saying, “Aso ebi ati awon golden accessories. Eso to bad!” (meaning: family party uniform complete with golden accessories) prompting her daughter to ask “Mummy is it not too early to be dressed up?”


Until few years ago, today’s Airtel brand was a controversial corporate entity. Or how best can one describe a brand that have changed name five times in the same market? From Econet to Vodacom, Vodacom to Vmobile, Vmobile to Celtel, Celtel to Zain and in 2010 came out with Airtel.

At the climax of the game, it got Nigerian thinking about how many times they have seen the telco change its identity (and management). There was a very fun guessing game analysts used to play back in the day – How long before Celtel/Zain/Airtel changes its name again? Most times, the guesses were spot on; anything between two and three years was mostly accurate.

Fast forward to around November 2010, Zain clipped its wings and morphed into Airtel Nigeria. The change was brought about by an acquisition where Bharti Airtel paid a hefty sum of $10.7 billion. The rest as they say is history.

Though first to launch out with a hypothetical campaign theme ‘Your cellular network’ which ran for a short time, the brand’s creative advertising had encountered brand positioning challenges over the years. Not long after its launch, it changed its pay-offline to ‘inspired to change your world’. Indeed, the vicissitudes of brand ownership and management has greatly impacted on the brand’s positioning.

Much as analysts would want to give the credit to effective management of the new owners, findings in the market in the last few years have confirmed that the brand began to appeal to more Nigerians the moment a new creative agency -Noah’s Ark clinched the creative account of the company.

On winning the creative brief of the Telco brand, the team was said to have gone to the drawing board to gauge the market and know what faces and concept would re-connect Nigerians with the ailing brand. This perhaps informed the recruitment of many known faces in the Nollywood who are already household names to fly their various campaign. Like a magic wand, the approach has not only unsettled the market but drawn more attention to Airtel and its numerous products.

For instance, the brand recently launched series two of its popular and highly rated Igboro TV campaign with a view to promoting its Smart Talk data offering package before its teeming subscribers.

The Smart Talk TVCs were launched in August last year to the network’s target with lots of excitements and talkability.

Airtel Smart Talk TVC featuring Bayo (Gabriel Afolayan) was in two parts. These are “Mr. Suspicious and “The Mechanic”.

Of course, there is a ‘Meet the in-laws’ which showcases many Nollywood stars as casts. The campaign demonstrates the power of mobile Internet as a phenomenon that enriches life and keeps everyone connected irrespective of age, class, tribe or gender.

To approach the youth segment of the market, the brand also unveils ‘Come Alive,’ which aims to attract Nigeria’s 70 per cent teeming youth population to its network.

As a result of all these, recognition and awards have been coming in the ways of the brand and its campaign. Since 2016, Airtel has revolutionised the marketing communications domain with creative, innovative and award-winning advertising campaigns, thereby deepening emotional bond with its numerous stakeholders.

At the 2019 ADVAN Award of Excellence, the Airtel team and its Agency, Noah’s Ark led by Lanre Adisa, CEO/Chief Creative Officer, were delighted as the Airtel brand, again, coasted home with the Gold plaque in the “Campaign of the Year” category for its outstanding campaigns. Last year, Airtel’s SmartRecharge advertising campaign was also adjudged the Campaign of the Year by the same ADVAN.


The launch of Etisalat in 2007 with its unified access licence was both daring and adventurous. Notwithstanding the fierce competition already defining the GSM market, Etisalat launched out with its own controversial theme campaign: ‘0809uchoose campaign’.

The campaign was received with lots of excitement as it further heightened expectations amongst mobile phone subscribers. It (campaign) was said to have been aimed at reflecting unique lifestyles of subscribers with their phone numbers.

The strategy also worked for Etisalat as it got subscribers switching to its network within a record time. The brand later came up with another theme campaign: ‘Now you are talking’. This new campaign was seen as a direct affront on one of the earliest operators with the theme ‘We’ve got you talking’.

The introduction of this new theme campaign brought some controversies and attention to the brand, thereby allowing the populace to pay attention to the new GSM telephone brand in the market. Since then, the brand has been operating largely within its limits and capabilities.

Etisalat’s launch into the market was handled by 141, a fourth-generation creative shop, while its PR brief was first handled by C&F before it was won by the Quadrant Company.

However, its fortune nosedived two years ago when the company ran into financial troubled waters, which necessitated a change of identity and management. Though things have been lulled for some months, indications have emerged that from March, this year, 9mobile may again give rival brands a run for their money.

As a build up to a fresh developmental plan, 9mobile sees the New Year as the ideal time to give its patrons the promise of a new beginning. In setting a new goals and work towards achieving them, 9Mobile is extending the good feelings of the New Year by kicking off with series of promotions to strengthen bond with consumers.

The brand is telling Nigerians through the campaign that exciting times are here again for subscribers of 9mobile.