Yesterday, Monday 5th June, 2023 Airtel made its official entry into the5G league of network providers. The entry strategy indicates coopetition, that is collaboration between business competitors, in the hope of mutually beneficial results, will play major roles in the industry going forward.
In this regard, customers and prospects were not left in the doubt as the concerned companies came out full chest to support each other. Will return to this, much later.
Historically, GSM made an inroad into Nigeria in 2001 with the arrival of Zimbabwean telecommunications company, Econet (now Airtel), and MTN from South Africa, the competition has been fierce between the two forerunners. Incidentally, both claims first to launch.
The competition became more vicious when two others players, Glo and Etisalat joined the highly competitive industry 5 and 10 years later respectively. At some points, there were insinuations that some companies were out destroying telecom mast belonging to competition.
However, a time came that competition began to give way to coopetition. First it was only a theoretical concept when industry juggernauts like Olu Akanmu then of MTN went about “preaching the gospel” at lectures and seminars. The concept thereafter finds explanation companies MoU on mast co-location. Today, more facilities are shared by these seeming sworn “enemies”. Incidentally, most of these relationships are kept under wraps.
In view of the above, Nigerians were pleasantly surprised to see the two adverts materials by Nigeria’s top two telecom operator openly complimenting each other.
The subject, being the much anticipated perhaps over hyped 5G services. Here, playing the “big brother” MTN welcomes Airtel to the league of 5G players as the latter officially launch its 5G services yesterday.
Unlike the contestable first GSM launch! MTN launched its 5G in September 2022, some 9 month earlier that closest rival. It services are already available in key cities across Nigeria’s 6 geo-political zones. It has over 600 sites and makes the 5G network available to 5G-enabled smartphones and iPhone users.
The adverts like banters between two jolly good fellows speaks volume of the spirit of coopetition. But I guess the joke is on the big brother, MTN as both invoke the coopetition strategy.
Without mincing words, MTN’s copy says it “The way it is” a’la ‘Etu Odi’. See copy below:
We know it’s no small feat to join the 5G league.
We’ve made everything easy for you,
So welcome to the amazing world of 5G
To outdoing ourselves.
MTN Nigeria (Signed)
The handshakes tell who’s the boss here! However, MTN writer are more generous and display ample dose of brotherly love.
Apart from giving minimal attention or space to the market leader’s domineering yellow colour, Airtel response is cheekier. The writers are a bit mean! It is the definition of naughtiness couched in brisk business-like tone and ready to render better service approach.
Thank you @mtnnigeria
Truly, you’ve done a good
But we know it can be better.
We’ll take it up from there.
The last two of the three liner Airtel body copy is a loaded snide! It positions the sponsor as a better alternative ready for better service, at the expense of the market leader.
Additionally, one should not forget to mention that the copy is an archetypal expression of Airtel’s new slogan as displayed under the logo “Reason to Imagine”. It strategically adorns the top left hand side of the well intentioned layout.
Truly, to dust MTN at its own game, the challenger will need a lot of imagination and deftness.
Were the ads engaged in a wrestling match, the “Reds have it”. However, the competition is more than that! But one can be assured that the brew is going to be worth it!
Congratulations and good luck to all parties.