3 Reasons Why MTN got it right with the Saka, I don port ad

In a move that has been publicly described as an ‘offensive’ attack on one of its major competitors – Etisalat, MTN Nigeria released an ad with the famous Saka last week immediately after NCC launched the much awaited Mobile Number Portability (MNP). The newly launched initiative allows subscribers to switch from one telecom operator to another. At SocialMeep, we saw this coming. Customers now have the freedom to migrate from one network to the other, the result of that will be an intense competition among all telecom operators, especially in a country where the big brands can do anything to retain (or expand) their market share.

It was in this fashion that MTN Nigeria released the ad. The marketing guys at MTN were the first to pull the trigger in a brand war that can only get tougher. There are few things that stand out for us at SocialMeep from this ad. Irrespective of the general public opinion about the major character in the ad, it is clear that this is a marketing and brand lesson for those who choose to look beyond the surface.

Let’s dive into the 3 key things that stood out about the ad:

  • The role of Social Media: Whatever is deeply inspired or spread by social media gets my heart and the entire SocialMeep team. Social media is our cup of tea here and we cannot but notice the social initiative behind this ad. First was that, it was first released on YouTube. How else can a big brand in such an industry adopt social media intelligently? The 46 seconds ad titled  “MTN ‘I don Port’ commercial featuring Saka” don port’ just made the cut. Second is the fact that MTN Nigeria obviously won the social talk-ability war and became the most talked-about brand across social media at least within 48 hours of the release. This is every marketer’s dream. When people begin to talk about your company everywhere without an expectation of a financial reward, you know you’ve just recruited new ‘free’ brand ambassadors, however short the duration. This clearly points out the importance of social media in this age. MTN Nigeria is one of the big brands that take social media seriously. This can be seen in their conversations with their Twitter followers, with all kinds of Twitter initiatives which I believe their followers love. The only thing I can say to CEOs and companies still thinking of adopting social media fully is Get social or get ‘lost’ Period!

When you’re done thinking, the SocialMeep team will be glad to help you plan your social media strategy, err, in exchange for some dough  ;-)

  • Influencers, Influencers, Influencers….I can just go on typing the word “Influencers” just to ensure you get the point here. Really, one of the key things that made the ad a “win” for MTN Nigeria was the main man, Saka. All other things may just be irrelevant. The funny Saka has been a great influencers as least for the people at the bottom of the pyramid. It will interest you to know how many bus conductors, local carpenters, pepper sellers and the likes that Saka influences with his Etisalat ads. Now, Saka ported to MTN. I can only ask whether the guys at Etisalat were sleeping when this happened. In the social scope, we are beginning to see people institutionalize social cum brand influencers. People are beginning to take the opinions of brand influencers, however wrong, as an endorsement. What more needs to be said? Use social influencers to your advantage.
  • The message: Without mentioning names, I have seen the response (or MNP ads of other brands) of other telcos to this ad, and I cannot but shake my head pitifully. I watched one and all I could ask myself was “what the heck are these people trying to say?”. As for MTN, the message was uber clear. Saka ported to MTN, from Etisalat. It’s irrelevant whether he truly migrated. The message couldn’t have been clearer when I heard “you too can now port…”. There are quite a number of ads that suck. When rolling out your ads, ensure it’s well crafted. What message are you trying to pass across? Make it clear as much as you can. You must have heard that people’s attention is becoming shorter by the day, right or wrong… truth is no one pays attention to an ad that sucks completely. If you want to be a brand whose ad people fall in love with instantly, then take our advice today to heart.

I looked deep and I can see more lessons from the ad, but we’ll just limit it to the three that stood out for me. What do you think about the ad and MTN Nigeria’s social strategy? Over to the comment box and let’s know what you think :-)

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