Business News of Friday, 20 July 2012

Source: myjoyonline

Vodafone Ghana CMO: I don’t like sharing branding space

Vodafone Ghana Chief Marketing Officer, Uche Ofodile says she acknowledges Ghanaians are passionate about soccer but she does not put her scarce resources into soccer like four of the other telcos in Ghana do because she hates to be in the same branding space with others.

“I am not into soccer because I hate sharing - I hate sharing with a passion – I am not interested in being in the same space with competitors trying to brand and rebrand things – I like to create my own space and give every segment of my customers the best of experiences within that space based on my limited budget,” she said.

Uche Ofodile was speaking to Adom News Editor Nii Narku Dowuona in an exclusive interview on a wide range of industry issues, with particular focus on Vodafone’s brand positioning in Ghana.

Vodafone has often been touted as an elitist brand and critics say that notion is supported by its relatively high standard tariffs across the globe, the kind of events it sponsors, such as Polo and The Formula One Grandpre, and the kind of customer segments it focuses more attention on.

But Uche Ofodile thinks people are erroneously confusing the fact that Vodafone is a truly international brand worth over US$30 billion with it being elitist.

She said that notion could not be true because Vodafone’s brand positioning in Ghana, and in every market, is to empower customers and all levels of peoples in every community it operates.

“We are doing Healthline targeted at breaking the common myths about our health, giving people quality health information and helping people to get healthcare procedures they could not ordinarily afford – we are doing Vodafone ICONS, which is targeted at the youth – would you call that elitist, definitely not,” she asked.

The Vodafone Ghana CMO also noted that the recent Vodafone Business products and services targeted at small-scale and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs), plus the recent ‘Vodafone Happy Feet’ event, which took Vodafone Ghana’s top executive to some markets and commercial centers to go find out what people wanted from Vodafone, are all indicators that Vodafone is not an elitist brand.

Uche acknowledged that one of the ways to deliver on Vodafone’s brand commitment is to engage the people through activities the people are passionate about, and for Ghanaians, soccer is arguably top on the list.

But the Vodafone Ghana CMO said “I know Ghanaians are passionate about soccer but four other telcos are in there already and I hate to share that space. That is why we have chosen to invest into music and we are doing it right from grooming, through the experience to reward.”

She explained that Vodafone ICONS is the grooming part, where Vodafone discovers and grooms musical talents and gives them the opportunity and push to stardom; 020 Live is the experience part, where Vodafone excites Ghanaians with some of the best world class local and international artistes; and the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards is the part where the company rewards excellence in music.

Uche Ofodile noted that Vodafone is into music and entertainment for the long haul but Vodafone as a global brand, has never been interested in taking on several things at the same time, but rather dedicating its limited budget to a few things and doing them in a way that would give its target audience extra ordinary experiences. Budget cuts at Vodafone too “There are austerity measures going on in the entire telecom industry and there have been huge budget cuts at Vodafone since last year but it is hard to tell because we take a few things and do them excellently so no one gets the vibe that we are cutting budgets,” she said.

She said when Vodafone inherited Ghana Telecom, it had several products and services on the market, but as of now Vodafone has reduced them to four or five key products with a few little ones on the side, adding that in line with the Group’s focus, its customers have also been categorized into four main segments to give it focus to deliver value to each segment in terms of products, services and events.

According to Uche Ofodile, for each of the segments, Vodafone has tailored events, products and service packages as well as tariff plans, such as Double Value, Supreme Value, Supreme Light, Extra Value and others to suit their lifestyles.

She noted that so far all the packages, tariff plans, events and even Corporate Social Responsibility programmes such as Vodafone Healthline are doing better than the company imagined, and that was a sign that its value offerings, propositions, events and programmes are relevant to Ghanaians.

Vodafone has been in Ghana since 2008 upon acquiring 70% shares in national career, Ghana Telecom. The company has since risen from third largest operator with about 1.7 million subscribers in 2008, to now become the second largest operator with almost 4.7 million as at May 2012.