What does Cell C want us to believe in?


A scene from Cell C's "Believe" advert.

Those in the ad industry and anoraks like me, who try to keep them honest, get terribly excited every time a new epic ad is launched. Epic means more than three scenes and more than one tired balding actor who we’ve seen in a dozen other commercials; it’s one big brand-shifting idea that will create buzz and in new marketing parlance go viral.

This type of ad event usually happens in the beer, automotive or cellular network provider space. It’s been a while since we’ve seen some big work in any of these categories until Cell C unveiled its big new “Believe” campaign.

The cinema execution and TVC starts with a dramatically lit shot of a young girl overlooking the ocean with a pair of wings strapped on to her back.

There are other equally intriguing sequences: a young boy remodelling his mother’s car; an aspirant young chef presenting a dessert disaster to her family; and a young boy falling off a rowboat.

The storyline morphs into their adult life where they have all obviously followed the dreams and achieved notable success culminating in a spectacular aerobatic show, the delivery at a restaurant of a pyrotechnic pudding and some skywriting that exhorts us to believe.

Unquestionably it’s a powerful piece of work and will resonate emotionally with consumers. It also follows what seems to be a new advertising trend in which one single word is used to encapsulate an idea.
I’ve seen words like brave, power, delight and joy being used by other brands. The storyline in this commercial is crisp and cogent and leaves us by design I assume, with a feeling of delight that perseverance and hard work has pays off and dreams have been fulfilled.

By any advertising definition this is a big idea. But after the brand glow wears off, I’m not sure if I’m more or less well disposed to the brand.

The category at present is undergoing massive ugly upheaval as the principle brands fight like tomcats in a mielie-bag over pricing and the levelling the playing fields. A fight by the way that was started by Cell C with its 99 cents call offering and which its bigger competitors have all but admitted caught them wrong footed and resulted in loss of market share.

Surely having started the battle and won valuable territory and consumer goodwill that is an enviable brand proposition that should have been built on more tactically and aggressively?

I assume Cell C wants us to believe in ourselves and if we do, our dreams will come true and we’ll be happy, rich, famous and successful. But how does that relate back to a cell phone relationship; cheaper conversations and less dropped calls?

It’s all a bit of a stretch isn’t it? A less ethereal approach and more of a consumer champion in my corner would have worked better. But I’d still like to try that flamb pudding at the restaurant that hangs off the side of the building!