The on-going advert campaigns by the four major telecom service providers on their 11 kobo per second tariff for calls have elicited mixed reactions from GSM subscribers.
While those of Airtel and Etisalat were condemned for being false and misleading, the adverts of Glo and MTN werecommended for being sincere and factual.
In its own campaign, Etisalat said a subscriber “can call over 160 million Nigerians at 11 kobo per second”, while Airtel’scommunication on the same tariff plan said subscribers on Airtel “can call everyone in Nigeria at 11k per second”.
By claiming that a subscriber can call over 160 million Nigerians, Etisalat is implying that all Nigerians, including toddlers, little children and people in communities without telecom coverage, all have telephone lines as Nigeria’s population is estimated at over 160 million. This is also the implication of Airtel’s claim that their subscribers “can call everyone in Nigeria at 11k per second”.
Several subscribers who spoke on the issue observed that only Glo and MTN did not make such false claims. “Both Glo and MTN only announced in their own adverts that subscribers on their network “can call any network at 11 kobo per second,“ they noted.
Yusuf Surajudeen, a telephone subscriber in Ilorin said, “The Etisalat and Airtel campaigns on the tariff showed how shallow and hollow telecommunications companies’ communications campaigns have become in Nigeria. That message presupposesthat you can pick the phone and call even toddlers and infants who can’t utter a word or communicate comprehensively.”
Stephen Efosa, a communications student, said he was shocked that the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON)and other regulatory agencies either approved the campaigns or turned a blind eye to the fallacy.
Also speaking on the issues, Chinenye Ogueri, a resident in Awka, Anambra State, said she could not understand why advertisers often feel the people are stupid. “How can you tell me I can call everyone in Nigeria? That is nonsensical hyperbole. It is carrying the exaggeration concept in advertising too far. I’m disappointed with the desperation Airtel and Etisalat displayed in this campaign. They should stop misleading Nigerians. They should simply have communicated the true benefits of the plan like MTN and Glo did,” she declared.
Danladi Usman, a Mass Communications student of Sokoto Polytechnic in his own comments decried what he called undue exaggeration in telecom advertising of late. He said the development was making it more difficult for consumers to make informed decisions.
“It is out of a habit of making exaggerated claims that an operator can be saying that you can call ‘over 160 million people in Nigeria’ when we all know that there are not that many telecom subscribers in the country. It’s not in the interest of consumers to encourage such practice and we should commend Glo and MTN who have resisted the temptation to fall into this bad habit, at least on this occasion,” he said.