Etisalat is a multi-national UAE based telecommunications services provider, currently operating in 18 countries across Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Etisalat Afghanistan was launched in 2007 after the UAE telecom operator won the license to operate as the fourth mobile services provider in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
The operator rapidly became the fastest-growing telecommunications service provider of the country. Etisalat Afghanistan has invested over USD 300 million in the Afghan telecom industry, and it’s wholly owned by the Etisalat Group. In 2012, Etisalat won 3G license in Afghanistan and launched the first 3G services in history of Afghanistan. Etisalat is an innovator brand, committed to align Afghanistan with the world. Almost all advancements in the telecommunications sector has been landed first by Etisalat in Afghanistan.
The key challenge of brand Etisalat is to gain undisputed leadership position in a predominantly pre-paid market. Cultural/geographic as well as ethnic and political strife add to its woes in expanding as per plan. When every customer carries with him 2 to 3 SIM cards, and usage is based on price efficiencies as well as data transfer superiority, it is extremely difficult for players to sustain leadership positions. Also, how do you provide constant value additions across voice and data, to stay ahead of the competition, without affecting profitability?
Can the communication drive usher in brand affinity? Can customers view Etisalat beyond just offers? Can we build a value leadership and reflected glory for the brand? Can Etisalat become the default brand of choice. For this, can Etisalat create an imagery of hope and connection? Can Etisalat become the the brand to ‘Flaunt’ and represent the progressive mindset of the modern Afghan?
For the first time in Afghanistan, a telecommunications provider embarked on a brand building campaign as against the norm of sales-oriented advertising. Etisalat became the brand that had brought in International imagery and expectations in to the country. The brand campaign was built on an unifying motif of the ‘Kite’. The kite has tremendous significance in Afghan culture and history. It is a celebration that brings people together and spreads the message of harmony and communal unity. Etisalat appropriated this motif and built its brand narrative around the kite. The brand film and brand communication ‘localised’ the imagery of an international brand, whereby making the brand closer to the locals.
Post campaign, brand affinity research scores went through the roof. Brand stickiness index rose stratospherically. Overall, the brand had more than 30% growth in new customer accruals and 85% retention of existing customers. Today, Etisalat enjoys a customer base of 6 Million! And growing. It has become the market leader by a margin that clubs competition, literally in some other planet.