– 19 December 2012

The Power Is In Your Hands Ad

Given that this is the last ‘Ad of the Week’ for 2012 it feels good to celebrate the power of the individual with an advert that comes to us from Cell C, and which is very reminiscent of those legendary Apple ads, that famous campaign that put the company back on track when it had lost its way.

You know the ads, probably off by heart. But for the sake of nostalgia, let’s read those words again:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits.The rebels. The troublemakers.The round pegs in the square holes.The ones who see things differently.

They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo.You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them,disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.Because they change things.

They invent.They imagine.They heal.They explore.They create.They inspire.They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy. How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art?Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written?Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

We make tools for these kinds of people. While some see them as the crazy ones,we see genius.Because the people who are crazy enough to thinkthey can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Now that campaign for Apple – which was called‘Think Different’ because that was the slogan for the ads – was created by TBWA\Chiat\Day in Los Angeles in 1997, a year that Apple Computers (now known simply as Apple) was in trouble. Steve Jobs exited the company following a palace coup in 1985, and what followed for the Apple brand was about eleven years in the wilderness.

The ‘Think Different’ campaign followed Job’s return to Apple – he had spent the previous decade creating Pixar and delivering the animation studio’s first feature Toy Story. Jobs, of course, led Apple’s return from the wilderness and took it into its ‘golden years’, which saw the company make computing cool, introduce the iPod, open iTunes and really nail the mobile device market.

In South Africa, it will be interesting to see if Cell C’s campaign in celebration of the self does the same thing for the mobile network, which has been under the helm of Alan Knott-Craig Snr since 1 April 2012. Up till then Cell C had pretty much been in the wilderness too with only an acting CEO to guide it, following the sudden departure of Lars Reichelt for personal reasons in July 2011.

After Vodacom and MTN, Cell C had always been seen as the third cellular brand or a bit of an also-ran. But Knott-Craig (who of course pioneered the mobile market in SA with Vodacom) looked set to change that, and the market bristled with the announcement of his move to Cell C.

cell c

And Knott-Craig didn’t waste a second, wading into the market like an ‘Alexander the Great’, determined to cleave off the competition’s customer base. AsTechCentral, who made Knott-Craig Snr its Newsmaker of 2012 wrote: “Cell C CEO Alan Knott-Craig has been making headlines all year –and winning consumer kudos in the process – as he wages a war for market share against the company’s bigger rivals.”

The effect of Knott-Craig Snr’s return to the market has been a massive boon for consumers, who have benefitted dramatically from the price war between the operators, in what was to date a fairly stagnant, if not complacent, market.

Which is why this campaign is so pleasing. It is all about the people that the mobile networks seemed to have forgotten about with their huge charges, complex bundles and mystifying product offerings. It is about you, and me. It is about the customer and about putting the power back into the hands of the customer.

It’s too early to tell what the impact of this campaign will be, but on the back of a brilliant business strategy that champions the consumer it can only be good. Cell C wasn’t top of mind for the right reasons for the longest time. Now it is. Let’s see if it will stay there, grow and make the mobile sector as competitive as it should be.

Well done to Alan Knott-Craig Snr for making 2012 the year of the mobile customer, and to Ogilvy Johannesburg for ‘The Power is in Your Hands”, an ad that truly celebrates and uplifts consumers.