Smart move! Huawei ropes in Chetan Bhagat

22 Sep,2011

By Gulveen Aulakh

India’s bestselling writer is entering unchartered territory, perhaps a first for any writer-the world of celebrity brand ambassadors. Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei Technologies has roped in Mr Chetan Bhagat as brand associate for its devices such as smart phones and tablets, a senior executive told ET.

 

“Mr Chetan Bhagat is a youth icon and he has changed the dynamics of the publishing industry. Our endeavour is to bring high-end technology at affordable prices. Our target audience and values are the same,” Huawei Devices India President Mr Victor Shan said. He refused to disclose the size of the deal. Industry insiders estimate it at nearly Rs 1 crore.

 

Mr Bhagat-whose fifth book, Revolution 2020, is scheduled for launch on October 8-said he liked the concept of brand association. “They offered a brand-association in which I had no pressure to say nice things as such, unless I actually liked the product. I liked that concept,” he told ET in an email from Bangkok.

 

<r Bhagat has been using Huawei phones for more than a month. The move has come as a surprise for brand experts. “I do not believe it (the partnership) gels, but it just might work. Companies make very odd choices, sometimes they click and do well,” brand consultant Mr Harish Bijoor said. He added that the deal gives hope for a different class of brand ambassadors and pave way for more cerebral kind.

 

As part of his first endorsement deal, Mr Bhagat will launch Huawei’s new products including the world’s first Android 3.2-powered tablet, Mediapad, and Vision cloudphone, the world’s first smart phone based on cloud services.

 

The tablet, scheduled for launch next month, will have electronic versions of Mr Bhagat’s books pre-embedded in it. Mr Bhagat will also be associated with all promotional and marketing activities of the firm across all media-be it digital, above-the-line or below-the-line campaign.

 

Huawei, which plans to spend $3 million on promotions and advertising till December, has been struggling to build a positive image in India. Its image took a hit when the Indian government raised concerns that Chinese vendors could use telecom equipment they supply to snoop on the country and even launch cyber attacks.

 

Huawei -the world’s second-largest telecom gear maker after Ericsson with 2010 revenues of $28 billion, or Rs 1.27 lakh crore – is now banking on Mr Bhagat’s power as an influential writer and motivational speaker to revive its image.

 

Mr Bhagat will be Huawei’s brand associate for six months. “We will monitor the change in perception of the brand after the association, and then decide to extend it further,” Huawei Devices Director, Marketing & Solutions, Mr Anand Narang said.

 

Huawei, which has been selling its gadgets in India for two years now, plans to become a more consumer-oriented company. In 2010-11, it recorded $490-million sales in the country and sold 12 million units including data cards, set-top boxes, CDMA and GSM feature phones and smart phones. The company targets $600-million sales this fiscal.

 

It will seek to reach out to young consumers through new products and services over the next few months. Mr Bhagat will use these products and engage with consumers.

 

“Chetan has a huge presence on Facebook and Twitter, with a combined following of nearly 2 million. He will engage with consumers on social media on his new book Revolution 2020, beginning from a contest on Facebook site this week,” Mr Narang said.

 

Huawei is the launch partner for Revolution 2020. Huawei Devices Sales Director Mr P Sanjeev said that the company will consider the possibility of Chetan creating content for the brand, for instance, writing short stories that will be available for Huawei device users. The gear maker also plans to work with colleges where Huawei may offer some products at special prices .

 

 

Source:The Economic Times

Copyright © 2011, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved

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