Chinese smartphone brand, Vivo, just released its first creative featuring the new brand ambassador Aamir Khan. It was for the flagship smartphone Vivo V9 in India. The interesting thing is that Vivo ditched their brand ambassador Ranveer Singh (who incidentally is among the most visible — and the highest paid celebrities for endorsements) at the peak of his career and all over media.
“We are thrilled about the possibilities that our partnership with one of the world’s biggest superstars, Aamir Khan, will open up for Vivo in India,” said Kenny Zeng, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Vivo India.
“This new association will enable us to explore newer avenues to reach our customers as we script our future growth strategy in India,” Zeng added.
“Vivo as a brand embodies the spirit of innovation and meaningful disruption,” said Aamir.
“Over the years, the brand has been constantly pushing the boundaries of smartphone technology. I am enthused to be a part of Vivo’s transformative journey in India,” the actor added.
So, the big question is “Why this change ?”
and the sub-question is “Why now?”
So lets look at what Vivo is trying to do in the country and how they could plan to leverage a celebrity for the same.
Vivo launched in 2016 and wanted to create an immediate impact. This was done by the title sponsorship of IPL backed by a massive on-the-ground distribution drive.
It targeted the below Rs 15,000 market. The volumes in this smartphone segment is largely driven by the young diaspora below 24-25 years, and ones who are looking for good looking smartphone with great features but mainly within their budget.
As it ticked all the expectations and the price advantage was good, Vivo wanted to immediately engage with the price sensitive middle class youth of India, it added to the fascination by getting Ranveer Singh as a brand ambassador who epitomizes young energy and persona. The sales saw an upsurge and in two years it was in a formidable position of number 3/4 in the fiercely competitive market.
This in itself is a case study which I use where sponsorships and celebrity endorsements have been used successfully.
However - there were two things happenning.
- Sales were getting flatter — and competition getting stiffer.
- The premium phones of Vivo picked up in sales beyond expectation — consumers liked the value proposition but these are not the consumers in colleges looking for cheap phones.
Enter ‘Premium’ Vivo
Suddenly, it seems plain visibility is not what Vivo would be looking for (anyways IPL does more than a fair share for Vivo on that), it no longer wanted the ‘growing’ manifesto . The competition is no longer value for money brands, suddenly it needs to compete head on with brands like Samsung Galaxy, Oppo, One Plus, Sony Xperia, Nokia, HTC and Motorola.
Vivo would now be looking for premium, trust and versatility as traits where Ranveer has absolutely no fitment — and Aamir fits in well.
Its also backed by the on-ground look and feel of Vivo — and the growth of Vivo exclusive lounges which add to the premium look and feel of brand in the mind of discerning customers — and the results on ground seem to look promising.
Also the fact that Ranveer is endorsing dozen plus brands adds to the brand clutter which Vivo escapes by taking Aamir Khan as an endorser — who is only endorsing one brand and is known to be fairly selective (and his brand of being a perfectionist adds perfectly to it).
Its good to see Vivo acknowledging the impact of Ranveer. The company stated that the relationship with the actor aided Vivo India in generating mass brand awareness. "The brand has evolved significantly since its launch in India and has aggressive consolidation plans that will boost future growth."
Vivo seems to be ticking the right boxes but the direction of using entire communication around camera (which incidently is also followed by its sister brand Oppo) maybe an over kill as the new set of audiences may not fit in well.
Also it seems to consider its brand ambassador and its IPL sponsorship as two different buckets from communication point of view. The new campaign with Aamir is definitely nothing to do with Cricket and with a massive bet that Vivo has taken on Cricket, a strategic synergy between the two pillars can take it a long way.
Some of my colleagues even went to an extent of linking this to Aamir’s rising popularity in China — Hmmm thats an interesting food for thought, isnt it ?
Let the game begin!