Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Airtel could do better on its radio advert

This evening (afternoon, Malawi time) I found myself glued to Zodiak Radio online for some three hours as I worked on some little stuff on my PC. An Air-tel advert that the continuity announcer played several times in between some programmes during this period compelled me to suspend my focus on what I was doing.

To be frank, the production quality of the advert leaves a lot to be desired and casts some doubts on the seriousness of the mobile phone service provider in getting its message across using this particular advert.
Here is the context of my assessment. I did not manage to transcribe every single word of the advert but I managed to capture a good part of the it. The script goes like this:

We all know that after the devaluation of the kwacha a lot of companies have raised their prices…….

I am here to inform you that we aren’t going to raise our prices because we think about u……

Without u we are nothing. With u we are something, hence the need for us not to raise our prices……..

Two things I have problems with.

Listening to the advert, one can tell the narrator was reading his script.Of course a radio or television script is always read but the reading itself is not supposed to come out as ‘reading’. Rather, the narrator is supposed to ‘talk’ the script. He/she is supposed to read it as in telling a story to a person. The reading has to flow smoothly.

In the advert I am referring to, the narrator can be heard reading from one line to another, punctuating the script. It sounds like a learner in an English reading class. It really doesn’t appeal to the ear.

Unless it says it was deliberate that the script be read that way to achieve some effect, which I have to admit I can’t figure out, Airtel could have done much better than what went on air.

Well, enough of that.

Then there comes the language part of the advert. The narrator says, ‘We all know that after the devaluation of the kwacha a lot of companies have raised their prices……’

I wonder: Do companies really raise their prices? I thought what companies raise are the prices of their products or services? Someone at Airtel did not do their homework properly regarding the language part of this message.

With the poorly narrated radio advert, I doubt if the communications team at the mobile service provider really meant it when they passed the script as fit for customers’ ears. There could be other good adverts from Airtel. However, this one is surely a goof.


  1. That clip, I guess, was cut from a speech which some official delivered the previous night at the end of a promotion called Yabooka.

    1. Thanks so much for that. That helps in my understanding of the quality of the production.If I had this background information I would definitely not have a big problem with the advert. Now, that points to something important.I think those that come up with concepts for adverts should always consider the question: Is this advert 'complete'? An advert that I consider 'complete' is one that contains all relevant information that can help the audience - even when they don't have any background information - to understand the message. The creators of the Airtel advert seem to have assumed that the audience knew what was going on in the clip, which, in my view, is a mistake. The advert creator could have used the clip but a little more creativity was needed to attach some completeness to the advert.