Brand Saga: Vodafone India Part 2 – Enter, ZooZoos

Vodafone marketing strategy

The second chapter of Vodafone Marketing Strategy & advertising journey voyages across the making of exemplary Vodafone Zoozoos while exploring the brand’s marketing strategy in the coming years.

Moving over the Chika Pug mania, we sit down to now plunge into the iconic and our very own Zoozoos of Vodafone who made Vodafone Marketing Strategy a force to reckon with.

For the unacquainted, the first part of the Vodafone Brand Saga was released the last week. To give a small pretext, Hutch rebranded itself to Vodafone Essar in 2007 with a new proposition ‘Change is Good’ and later ‘Happy To Help’ wherein it revived Chika for the commercials.

Enter Zoozoos – IPL 2008

It was in 2008 when Zoozoos were born to take ahead the Vodafone marketing strategy during IPL season 2.  As an extension of ‘Happy to Help’, Vodafone rolled out around 30 commercials featuring white, giant egg-headed and ballooned body creatures specially created to convey a Value Added Service (VAS) offering. The objective was to release one ad per day, to sustain interest till the end of the tournament.

Making of Zoozoos

Around six months before the campaign was released, Vodafone Essar briefed Ogilvy India to create uncommon characters that would be distinct enough to be noticed and act as a common thread for further advertisements.

Nirvana Films’ Prakash Varma who has been at the helm of Vodafone campaigns was quoted saying that zoozoos are human beings who were made to wear bodysuits. “The design of the characters is such that one gets fooled into thinking it is animation, which was indeed the very illusion that had to be created. In a sense, it is live animation!” 

He also revealed that the characters were a big challenge to create as the practical aspects of how they will move,  talk, gesticulate and emote were very important. It took the production team around three weeks of pre-production to understand how the costume design and artwork would work.

The human characters were made and modified to look like animated – right form their outfits to the technical editing.

After dividing the suit into two parts, the body part of the outfit was stuffed with foam in some places, while the head was attached separately. The team kept the head size larger than a normal and head and legs thinner – for which they cast women and at times kids to adorn the outfits and act like the zoozoos with big bellies and thin limbs.

“Cinematically, this size was a  trick. The creatures look smaller than they actually are on screen, to portray a different world of sorts. For this, the speed of shooting was altered. Nirvana shot it in a high-speed format to make them look the size that they do. Furthermore, simple sets/backdrops were created and spray painted with neutral Grays – a color shot, even the shadow of a zoo-zoo was kept painted in a darker shade of grey on the ground,” shared Varma.

The commercials were shot on foreign lands that of Cape Town within a record time of 10 days in association with Platypus, a local production house that also worked on the first edition of ‘Happy To Help’ the previous year. According to reports, while there was 0 post-production, the pre-production work cost around INR 3 crore spanning a month.

Also, if you wonder why the name Zoozoo. The brain behind the loveable pug and now these alienated characters, ex-Ogilvy Rajiv Rao, shared with Business Standard that he came up with the name ZooZoo because the team wanted something that sounded cute, lovable and a bit mad like the characters.

Early Response to Zoozoo

While Chika helped Hutchison build a unique identity, post the rebranding, Vodafone had to create an identity of its own. Thus Zoozoos were given birth. ZooZoos gave the Vodafone marketing strategy the strength it needed.

According to a Zenith research published in 2012, Neo@Ogilvy (the digital arm of O&M) responsible for managing ZooZoo’s Facebook brand ZooZoo fan page had claimed that the page had received around 2.6 million page views in comparison to only 0.5 million of IPLT20.com. 

Their popularity boomed to an extent that there were more than 200 pages on ZooZoos with over 250000 fans, while the commercials were viewed by millions on Youtube. The number of Facebook fans of Zoozoo swelled to 3,07,072 (as on June 17, 2009) far surpassing the number of fans for cricketing and Bollywood icons like Sachin Tendulkar and Amitabh Bachchan, legendary superheroes like Superman and even comic characters like Asterix.

ZooZoo Birthday

That one day when the world sends you best wishes.

Posted by Vodafone Zoozoos on Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Later in 2009, Vodafone Zoozoos bagged PETA India’s first Glitter Box awards for taking advantage of humane alternatives to the use of real animals in their advertisements.  

ZooZoo advertisements helped Vodafone increase its customer base by 3.8 % in the 1st quarter of 2010 although experts claimed that the ads did not achieve the target of increasing VAS usage.

Zoozoo Diwali Celebration

Wishing you a Happy and Delightful Diwali!

Posted by Vodafone Zoozoos on Saturday, 29 October 2016

It can’t be denied that Zoozoos had and are a phenomenon and became a brand in themselves with ZooZoo merchandise being sold at retail chains.

Currently, Vodafone Zoozoos’s Facebook page enjoys 19 million likes and 18 million followers and around 3k on Twitter which is inactive since 2011.

Zoozoo saga continues…

Vodafone Star of the Month contest was launched during IPL 2009 featuring ZooZoos and keeping the quirky humor constant.

Winners were to win a trip to South Africa and Vodafone was the official partner of the tournament.

Thereon, from Phone backup, chota recharge, bhakti songs, stock alert, Vodafone call filter, recharge anywhere- all these services were showcased through an array of commercials with Zoozoos.

The films were shot against a Grey backdrop with zero verbal communication but some funny & catchy interactions between different zoozoo characters. Some advertisements also featured the big Zoozoo familia and kept them at the center of the storyline.

Enter Vodafone Delights – The Next  Big Idea

After the infamous Pug and the much loved Zoozoos which were still utilized in Vodafone advertisements, the next challenge was to keep the buzz up and going albeit with a different proposition and a newer insight.

Identifying the evolving consumer mindset and demands, in 2010, Vodafone decided to delight its customers with a new offering during Diwali. In a bid to provide the benefit of Diwali shopping, Vodafone rolled out the best of deals, not for recharge but shopping as a part of the company’s festive marketing plan.

To promote the same, the company partnered with Ogilvy India to weave commercials depicting a budding friendship between two schoolgirls who would go out of their way to treat the other.

The campaign was extended in 2012 with a set of TVCs titled ‘Classroom”, ‘Cycles’ and “Annual Day” showing the emotional response associated with receiving special gifts.

The second phase of ‘Delights’ also dwelled on the friendship theme. However this time in 2011, it showcased the budding friendship between an old man and a teenage boy.

The main objective of ‘Delights’ was to make the customers aware that Vodafone cares for them and are is trying to delight them. The campaign was supported with a high decibel 360-degree media plan. 

Vodafone – The #MadeFor series

Vodafone in 2013 created magic with the launch of #MadeFor directed by Prakash Varma and executed by Ogilvy India. This time the story revolved around young love wherein the film featured a college Romeo talking to his love interest day long uninterruptedly.

The same year, in the second leg of the campaign, Vodafone took it upon itself to provide the widest reach to its consumers with the ‘Made for moms’. After ‘First love’ to communicate ‘uninterrupted conversations’, the film aimed to establish Vodafone’s ‘widest reach’.

Thereafter a Vodafone Prediction series was rolled out featuring the Zoozoos yet again wherein they can be seen giving you the final prediction and tell you everything you need to know about 2014. A total of six films were launched as a part of the series in December 2013.

Also Read: Brand Saga: Vodafone India Part 1 – The pug that taught us to dial

Such became the rage that a ZooZoos anthem was released – where the adorable characters were seen singing and dancing in rather abundance.

Zoozoos rule IPL and Social Media

While the IPL fever was going viral with each year, Vodafone rolled its sleeves to recreate something new and exciting with Zoozoos.

As a pre buzz activity, Vodafone launched new TVCs where the Zoozoos explain the benefits of ‘Chota credit’ and ‘Choose your number’ for the seventh season of IPL in 2014.

Vodafone kept on innovating and introducing new concepts to engage fans and indulge Zoozoos in a fun manner with each year’s IPL. From the Superfan contest to the Vodafone Funcam fan activity where one could find and tag themselves at the key IPL matches through a virtual representation of the stadium if they had attended the match.

Source: Unmetric

In 2014, Vodafone asked the fans to watch the matches live along with their 2 friends showing their crazy side. The online campaign urged consumers to click a selfie or shoot a video with their friends and share. Users were asked to tweet their pictures or video along with the hashtag #VodafoneFanArmy.

This also led users to be a part of the Vodafone Fan Army while winning tickets to T20 match, Vodafone jerseys and other merchandise.

Online reports and statistics by Unmetric suggest that #VodafoneSuperFan was nothing less than a rage garnering a great response from all corners. 

The company had during the period posted 11 posts tagging #VodafoneSuperFan which received around 106K likes, 1500 comments, and around 4k  shares.

Because ‘Speed is Good’

In 2015, at a time, when every telecom brand was busy devising strategies to combat competition during IPL and ongoing cricket World Cup, Vodafone drove a different route and launched its big bet for superfast 3G speed.

The brand-agency duo launched two TVCs titled ‘Farewell’ and ‘Haircut’ to communicate its newest offering and how Vodafone 3G connections can bring a smile on someone’s face. On the basis of the Ookla Speed test, Vodafone claimed to offer 22% faster download, 44% faster upload and 22% faster-browsing experience with its 3G data network.

The then National Creative Director of Ogilvy & Mather, Rajiv Rao was quoted saying that it took the agency around two months to complete the campaign as it was a full 360 campaign.

The films ended with taglines – ‘Share photos 43% faster, Speed is Good’. Vodafone-the fastest 3G network’. Five more films were rolled out as an extension of the ‘Speed is Good’ campaign.

IPL 2016- Vodafone’s #BeSuper bait

Identifying the power of social media, as a part of the Vodafone marketing strategy, Vodafone joined hands with Twitter in 2016 to launch India’s first corporate brand emoji Zoozoo as a part of its Hakke Bakke campaign for IPL.

The company stated it had generated an estimated 90 million impressions in just 2 days of its launch on Twitter. Zoozoo fans across the world shared their emotions, using specially designed emojis linked to two hashtags – #BeSuper and #HakkeBakke.

The response to Vodafone’s ‘Be Super’ was highly appreciated and the campaign claimed to have made Vodafone one of the most engaging brands during Vivo IPL 2016. With Vodafone SuperFan, Vodafone FanArmy, Vodafone SuperAlbum and Vodafone SuperCheer, Vodafone customers got a chance to watch the match live at the stadium, meet their favorite cricket stars, get pictures clicked with Zoozoos and much more.

  • #BeSuper and #HakkeBakke hashtags generated over 94,000 conversations on Twitter. Vodafone’s specially created cheer slogan Hakke Bakke saw 2.4 million video views and generated 200 user videos on Dubsmash.
  • Vodafone SuperFan contest received more than 1.3 million entries while the television commercial got 5 million online views.
  • ZooZoos were also back in action with over 70,000 people clicking pictures for the Vodafone SuperAlbum, in an attempt to set a Guinness World Record (record verification ongoing).

From Chika to the unforgettable Zoozoos to weaving stories through insightful campaign series, Vodafone has been hailed as a marketing genius by brand custodians over and over.

Well, we don’t stop here and would urge you to stay tuned for the third and final chapter of the Vodafone Brand Saga Series where we unfold the digital leg of the Vodafone marketing strategy and their iconic Asha-Bala campaigns.


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