By Tomi Adedeji
A few weeks ago, telecoms giant MTN wowed us with their ‘I don port’ ad featuring popular comedian Saka. If you’re new in this clime, Saka is a popular comedian who had featured on several Etisalat ads making him a popular face of that brand (Etisalat is a competing telecoms provider).
In what popular writer Tolu Ogunlesi described as the “biggest coup since Sani Abacha in 1994”, we suddenly woke up to Saka announcing his cross over to MTN. The ad went viral, it got us talking, Facebook was awash with several caricature adaptations of Saka, twitter was agog, MTN and Saka trended for some days, with record views on YouTube. ‘Great ad,’ many of us said. I for one applauded the strategic thinking behind the ad. MTN and DDB (their advertising agency) I imagined must have pumped hands and popped champagne. Come LAIF (Lagos Advertising International Festival) in October, I’m sure they’ll pick not a few awards (in fact, a grandprix may not be farfetched).
But now that the dust appears to be settling, the question I’m asking is how many of us really ported or will be willing to port? Statistics released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) revealed that over 4,000 subscribers from the four GSM operators migrated with their lines to other operators, within 48 hours after the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) was launched on April 22. For a country with over 100 million mobile phone subscribers, this is number is minuscule. In addition, I have no encompassing data at the moment, but from asking people around me, no one has told me they knew someone who knew someone who has ported to MTN except Saka of course! Rather, there appears to be movement away from the yellow corner i.e based on findings from my circle of friends.
It’s still too early to judge, but from indications, it appears not many Nigerians may be interested in porting to the yellow corner after all. A number of reasons may abound, one being the availability of multiple SIM phones which ensured that many of us had more than one SIM to start with and the other reason being the generally poor level of service delivery across the industry (they are all same of same).
The whole point therefore is this; beyond great advertising, MTN needs to be able to show Nigerians what makes their network better (which by the way appears to be the path Etisalat is towing in their communication strategy). There has to be more investment in capacity to deliver. Glo recently announced the signing of a multibillion naira deal with ZTE for facility upgrade and I’m wondering, beyond the comic act, what’s MTN’s superior offering?
It is classic capitalism, innovate or die…the consumer has to be king. Will I be better off on their network? DDB has pocketed their fee, Saka must be smiling to the bank, but this writer ain’t porting nowhere! Although one may reconsider if a similar ‘porting contract’ comes one’s way…