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At the end of 2009 the Indian mobile telecommunications industry was estimated to be the second largest telecommunications industry globally, with 562 million subscribers (Chaudhuri and Khurana 2011). The major players were market leaders Airtel with 23% market share, Vodafone 17%, Reliance 18%, with Tata Indicom and Idea both with 11% shares. Aircel was considered to be a small regional player with a market share of 6%. Aircel was launched in 1999 as a regional brand operating in Chennai (one of India’s top four metro cities). It was almost 10 years before Aircel spread its presence across 23 telecom circles in India (circles are the areas for which licences are awarded). As with many similar telecommunications markets, competitive differentiation was based on new product development, tariffs, network strength and customer service. Aircel’s development has led to them achieving national awards for customer satisfaction and network quality. They were listed as the top mid-size utility company in 2007 by Businessworld magazine and recognised as the best regional operator by the Tele.net magazine. The telecommunications organisation CMAI INFOCOM recognised Aircel for excellence in the marketing of a new telecom service in 2009. Aircel had attempted to position the brand as an ‘enabler’ closely associated with India’s economic growth. Despite being the fastest-growing operator in the market as they extended national market coverage, the Aircel brand was still considered by consumers to be a regional brand, with low levels of awareness and attention in the mass Indian market. In comparison to the market leaders, Aircel’s marketing communications budget was modest, restricting possibilities to achieve business growth by outspending competition in terms of media advertising. They had achieved some success in raising the brand’s profile by developing their involvement in community projects related to a corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy. These had centred largely on educational initiatives working with NGO partners and the Indian government. Projects included the opening of schools in specific areas aimed at educating street children, mobile toy libraries and a computer lab in a government high school. Further CSR activities were thought to be a positive way of enhancing the brand’s reputation and developing market presence. This was also considered to be an effective way of creating competitive differentiation in a ‘me too’ market category. Finding the right initiative to pursue was important if this strategy was to be effective in achieving tough objectives including: z Extend the appeal to every Indian, inviting them to join the mass movement spearheaded by Aircel. Progress would be measured through people’s involvement and government participation. z Achieve high affinity towards brand Aircel by loyalist and competition users alike, as measured through independent and internal market research. z Increase purchase intention for Aircel per se and against players who are similar in vintage (like Idea) or new yet aggressive (like Tata Docomo), measured through the purchase intention scores in the MillwardBrown Brand Track. Project Tiger, a programme to save tigers from extinction, was started in the 1970s by the government of India with the support of WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature). The cause was still dormant, and interest and awareness levels very low. The problem identified was that despite the tiger being the national animal of India, people were unable to form a connection between the survival of the tiger and their daily lives. In 2010, the numbers of surviving tigers in India was identified at 1,411 and reducing rapidly. How would Aircel be able to develop a CSR programme, including advertising, that would reconnect the importance of the tiger to the Indian public, halt the decline in tiger population and achieve their business objectives? Agency Dentsu Communications were involved in working with Aircel and a budget of over $20 million set to cover media expenditure.

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