Airtel Data Is Life: “The Rainmaker”, Another Epic Storytelling Campaign Enters the Equation
Time to gather again! Obviously, in a very long while, no thanks to COVID-19 and the restrictions! The Airtel Nigeria senior executives team whom, it was gathered, last physically worked together in such a considerable number around March 2020, that is pre-COVID-9, that is not to say they were sleeping in the comfy of their homes and earning fat salaries and bonuses. They work smart, albeit virtually. The team ushered their primary guests, the media, and other invited guests into a cozy cinema for a cool, epic Thursday evening on upscale Victoria Island.
The only one obvious absent was the Managing Director, Segun Ogunsanya, an excellent manager of resources and lover of the media, who was only a day before was confirmed the CEO for Airtel Africa. Big ups, sir! We are gathered for such great works that qualified Mr. Ogunsanya for the higher calling. That aside, the ambiance was beautiful and the screen arguably the largest around befitting of a world-class screening, and cinema, the latest in town.
And the stage was set for the unveiling and screening of “The Rainmaker” the latest unconventional TV commercial by Airtel, conceived from concept to finish by its roster agency, Lanre Adisa led Noah’s Ark.
Mounting rostrum for the raison-d’être for the gathering was an equally athletic and savvy, Adodo Tokunbo, a former beer marketing czar, recently turned telecoms poster boy. Tokunbo who wears the badge of Vice President, Corporate Brands, Airtel sets a good tone for what was to come. His presentation stylish, short, and straight to the point fits the bill for the work. He indeed spoke to the hearts of the capacity-filled audience as he presented from the back of the audience to allow the guest to focus on the screen, soak in the client’s point of view and appreciate what goes into “The Rainmaker”.
According to the Vice President, COVID-19 and its attendant lockdowns and business lulls impacted the people so much hence re-validating the age-old norm that “connecting with others was extremely important”, Nigerians deserve to live life like no other, especially “a life with some element of certainty”.
This has been the premise of Airtel’s campaign for its “Data is life” series. “You cannot afford to be a conventional network if you want to win”, he retorted, “All our offers and products are driven by innovation”. The series started with “Lost” an outstanding classic five years ago. And it has remained so. It’s still ever fresh, ever relevant, and connects easily. It took a large heart and a daring spirit on the path of the client to buy into the agency’s “mad” idea. Of course, it paid off. Lost has remained the most awarded creative work across Nigeria and the continent with 20 awards to its credit in 2020 alone!
Yes, coming from this ‘noble’ background and expertise definitely stands the agency in good stead as it pitched, “The Rainmaker” idea to the client. You don’t change a winning formula, especially where there is mutual respect, professionalism, and trust on the parts of both parties. Adodo confesses, when Noah’s Ark came up with this idea and I envisaged the quantum of works to be involved, the easiest thing for me to have done was to say, “Let’s kill it”. But thankfully, he didn’t. He saw the Epic in the pitch ever before the making and the outcome is worth every sweat invested.
The storylines are basically the same as the brand promise; “to always deliver data that works” remains sacrosanct in Airtel. “It’s about Nigerians and things that drive Nigerians” confirms Adodo, and one of those things he reaffirmed is “A life with some element of certainty”
With humour, elements of surprise, Sarcasm, enthusiasm, panache all rolled into the commercial, Airtel’s Rainmaker becomes a metaphor for evolving or changing certain traditional choices in life in general and also making such changes in the choice of Telecommunications service experience in particular.
“In life, there are some things that are beyond our ability to control. Take Rainstorm for example. In the face of landmark occasions in life, we desire bright clear skies and sunny days. However, the nature of weather lies beyond our control and since we tend to subscribe to conventional ways of averting rain, we traditionally subscribe to Rainmakers. While customary belief says Rainmakers can forestall rain, empirical observational experience shows that on many occasions, nature cannot be controlled. Whether we like it or not, Rain will have its way with us, unless we device reliable cover, said Maurice Ugwonoh, Creative Director, Noah’s Ark while speaking on the rationale for the new campaign.
However, relating it to telecommunications specifically, the Creative Director pointed out, “it is safe to say that the service experience in the market and industry lies also beyond the control of everyday subscribers. In the face of important personal video calls, virtual business occasions and the like, data experience is not only unpredictable…but frustrating when they are most needed. Just like the Rainmaker in the commercial. However, like a good salesman, he brings home his pitch, “with Airtel’s Advance 4G LTE technology, subscribers are now able to find succor under the Airtel Data pavilion, rather than rely on ‘Rainmaker’ Telcos”.
Hard to fault except that the taste of the pudding is in the eating! The king at the great celebratory occasion depicting the major ethnic nationalities of the country was in good spirit and expected good weather to savour the celebration, he did prepare as he ensured the Rainmaker was handy to handle any incident. But he bet on the wrong horse, frustrated and disappointed by the “Rainmaker” and Rainmaker too was overwhelmed by his own distress. The King had no option than to outlaw the latter’s very unreliable antics “data” for him to learn his lesson the hard way. The storyline speaks to the issue at hand, clear and apt!
The cast selection is on point. With Jide Kosoko, playing the role of the king and Jude Chukwuka, the Rainmaker, there is seamless chemistry and gusto that held the commercial together for a good home run and call to action.
A point of difference, however, is that the work could have made do with a lesser number of casts and still make the required impact. But hell no! Airtel has a history of pulling off BIG TICKET Advertising campaigns that require huge production logistics and Airtel’s Rainmaker has just been added to the list.
When Airtel “LOST” (referenced above) was shot in 2016, Ugwonoh revealed that it was the first commercial of its kind both in concept, message, and execution. We hired a yacht and cruised Lagos sailing, searching for the best location. And when we did find it, ferrying the cast members was a huge logistic to muscle. The Same with, “Alex and Joe”. Talking about the sense in maintaining a winning formula just like a good recipe.
Leveraging such valuable experience made working on Airtel Rainmaker a little easier, disclosed the Ugwonoh who is always kept on his toes not only by the client but chiefly by Abolaji Alausa, Executive Creative Director, Noah’s Ark. “It was back-breaking task sourcing for the right location, designing costumes and fitting, rehearsing, set design, manipulation for rain, music production, editing, not to mention the countless weeks of strategizing and conceiving the ideas and presenting. The sacrifices are enormous, but seeing the product finally done makes it worth all the pains….a little”, the creative Director stated with some conviction of achievement.
No doubt, Covid 19 brought a bagful of challenges to the table across industries. This creative work isn’t spared either but for the sheer determination to achieve a preconceived gold. For instance, information revealed that the shoot was pushed back several times, some aspects slated for 2020 didn’t happen until 2021. “We were so close to commencing production, but we had to put it on hold again till the next year 2021”.
For Airtel and it’s agency, the safety and wellness of everyone involved were paramount. Even while shooting, strict safety measures were adhered to and basic health checks were regularly carried out to ensure that everyone was protected. Ugwonoh further disclosed “Covid -19 made shooting Airtel Rainmaker near impossible…but we prevailed”.
While Adodo made his very convincing presentation, with support from Emeka Okpara, Vice President, Corporate Communications and CSR, Bunmi Adeleye of Leadway Assurance, playing the devils advocates asks, as a nation that believes in tradition and its institutions, “would Airtel not be seen as degrading, castigating the rainmaker institution? Emeka, a self-acclaimed ‘Lagos Rainmaker’ answers lightheartedly, “we mostly fail when we are needed most”. Adding, as a matter of fact, “we need that conversation and ‘talkabililty’”, so let the rainmakers and their apologists bring it on.
On the same issue, Ugwonoh foresees a few disgruntled elements being close-minded about the Rainmaker issue. “Its life”, he says, “It can’t be helped”. On the other hand, for every person that’s a close-minded critic, he sees ten thousand that love the campaign. How is he so sure? Precedence! “We (Noah’s Ark) have been doing this for 6 years for Airtel”.
Like, “Lost” was stealthily dropped on the creative scene and it became the winner, the story of “Rainmaker” may not be any different. However, time, as the best judge will tell.