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Saka’s MTN Portability Advert: My 5 Key Lessons

The social media space has been awash with reactions to the new MTN number portability advert since its unveiling at the beginning of the week. While many see the advert as a great creative piece, others have criticized MTN for “unfriendly”, “guerilla” tactics (Whatever that means).

For those who haven’t seen it. A popular TV character, “Saka” (Hafiz Oyetoro), who has appeared in a number Etisalat creative materials (adverts), has “abandoned” the brand and featured as the lead character in a new advert of one of Etisalat’s competitors, MTN.

“Decamping”, to me, is not the major issue, but the creativity deployed by the MTN brand to align the act and the message. The advert is about number portability – moving across operators without changing one’s number.  And Saka also “ported” from Etisalat to MTN. Powerful message delivered with unmistakable characterisation.

In this piece, I would like to join the fray. I will, however, limit myself to useful marketing and social lessons that brand managers, employers and everybody can find useful from the MTN creative marketing communication approach to the new portability regime.

  • DON’T DO YOUR COMPETITOR ANY FAVOUR — Brand competition is more or less about ‘fighting’ for market share. As my boss would say, “Marketing is War”. When the fortune of your competitor improves, there is the likelihood that your own market share has been eroded one way or the other. This will ultimately affect the bottom line, which is the major objective of being in business. Continuous depletion of a brand’s market share can only spell doom. That’s why brand strategies and tactics must not do the competitor (either direct or remote) any favour, whatsoever. Helping Etisalat brand to grow, certainly, isn’t one of MTN’s business objectives.
  • HIT YOUR COMPETITOR WHERE IT HURTS MOSTSince marketing is war, deploying your resources must be strategic. Every “bullet” fired must be able to wreck the most havoc. I am sure MTN understands this very well. “Saka”, in a way, had almost become the “face’ of the Etisalat brand communication activities. When it was time to “strike”, MTN went for the jugular of the brand – Saka.  MTN made him to “port”.  It was indeed a below-the-belt kick for Etisalat and a major “coup” for MTN. This strategy is necessary in order to destabilise competitor and gain more market share when he’s trying to recover and put the house in order.
  • CREATE TALKABILITY ABOUT YOUR BRAND –— Creating constant buzz around your brand keeps it fresh and relevant in the consciousness of the target market. The Saka advert has created so much talkability about MTN in offices, homes and on the social media platforms since the beginning of this week and this might continue for a time to come. In creating buzz, elements of surprise, shock, conversation and creativity must be taken into consideration.
  • ‘BUY’ LOYALTY OF KEY ASSETS –— In football, clubs do all they can to keep their most valuable assets. From ‘insane’ remuneration to various concessions and privileges, key assets that deliver greatest value are pampered all the way. Why Etisalat didn’t lock Saka to a long-term contract, with an industry-exclusivity clause, still beats my imagination.
  • BE ADVENTUROUS—Particularly if the financial offer is good and you possess the skills and talents to make impact, don’t be afraid of change. Change is constant. I learnt the switch over for Saka set MTN back by N20 million. You can imagine what that amount will do to a modest man like Saka. Go for that CHANGE.

NB: I welcome readers’ opinions on my views expressed above. For or against will be appreciated.

By Muyiwa Akande.

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