Nigeria mobile number portability TV commercial war

idonport dance video competition

The Number Portability Battle Line

With the start of GSM number portability service in Nigeria, came an unexpected but interesting TV commercial war! The leading GSM services operators in Nigeria namely MTN, Etisalat, Airtel and Globacom are all trying to outplay one another with their various TV commercials on the new service.

Why the war in the first place? Well, it is simple. The new service enables subscribers to one network to switch over to another network without changing their mobile number (Customers are also not supposed to change their SIM cards too but it seems a different scenario is playing out with respect to this. That however is a discussion for another day).

The bad news for operators is that their monopoly over subscribers’ numbers is broken but the good news for them is that they stand to benefit from “wooing” other operators’ subscribers to their own services without the customer worrying about changing his/her phone number. Ultimately, this would further enhance competition among the operators, promote better services and give customers power to easily “fire” or “suspend” their operators depending on their performance.

The Commercials

Enough of digression; let us talk about the TV commercial war. To do this justice, you need to watch the commercials again and then read my opinions. You can view the commercials below in this order – MTN, Glo, Airtel and Etisalat.

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MTN’s I don port o!

Probably the most talked about TV commercial of the lot. Why? Because popular Nigeria TV star – Hafiz Oyetoro popularly known as “Saka” for his comedy roles on TV simply killed it! Watching Saka does his thing on TV normally evokes laughter. Watching him rock the stage performing “I don port o!” with all the dance moves and razzmatazz is simply rib-cracking.

The commercial may have done well in the aspect of what we could see and hear, but it does even much better in the area of what is left for us to imagine. MTN both strategically and artistically taunted Etisalat. They poached Saka who until then was unofficially known as the face of Etisalat through the series of commercials he featured in for the company and painted for us a vivid and intriguing picture of what it means to “port” from one number to another. Then they leave us in no doubt of their intent with the manner in which Saka’s costume on the flick changed from a depressing shade of green to a brilliant display of yellow.

MTN not only delivered a sucker punch here, but they also rubbed it in as it is hard to see Etisalat use any of their old TV commercials featuring Saka again. That I tell you is a sad waste of money!

Verdict – Etisalat got “served”

Glo’s Move to Greener Pastures

Glo in their characteristic fashion brought in one of Africa popular movie actresses – Ghanaian Nadia Buhari. No surprise here as the commercial takes on a rather familiar Nollywood theme, a hurt damsel deciding to dump her network after deciding she is being served the wrong end of the stick. At the end though, we see fleet of vehicles carrying loads of luggage representing whatever operator you can think of on a wide highway all supposedly heading towards the “Glo” greener pastures.

And for the jab, struggling to maintain its first position from behind is a yellow vehicle being pushed mercifully by probably its passengers towards the same Glo pasture.

Even though the advert concept especially towards the end leaves us wracking our brain for clue of whose ox would eventually be gored, we are left in no doubt when we eventually get to the last scene with the yellow SUV. Now when we see yellow, we think MTN.

Verdict – Nice one Glo! We got the message.

Airtel’s The Move

Some viewers feel this 49 seconds commercial from Airtel leaves much to be desired, but I beg to differ. Here you see a gentleman moves out of his old, gradually dilapidating and noisy yellow-painted apartment to a new nicely situated, posh and red-painted one. And to properly drive the message home, he takes with him his old apartment number – 3 (also inscribed on a yellow-painted plate).

I think the concept is quite nice and the message simply and effectively delivered. As for the jab thrown, it’s another ouch for MTN!

Verdict – Unlike Saka’s dance moves and catchy song rendition, or the unsurprising charming act of Nadia and the embarrassing yellow SUV; Airtel’s The Move commercial leaves us nothing really memorable to remember afterward except its bluntly delivered message.

Etisalat’s If you don tire, why you dey suffer yourself?

Well, even coming up with an appropriate title for this TV commercial took a while. Seems to me Etisalat is yet to get their wit together after the sucker punch from their yellow opponent. I guess the statement from the flick – If you don tire, why you dey suffer yourself – was probably more than just a TV commercial line to them. They practically did not worry themselves on this one.

The commercial was just kind of drab and sounds like it’s made more for the radio than the TV screen. Reminds me of the hypertensive manner Nollywood advertised its home videos on radio couple of years back. As for which of its competitors gets the jabs in this commercial, I am still scratching my head. Maybe someone can help me out.

Verdict – Wake up Etisalat!

What do you think people? Have your say!

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1 thought on “Nigeria mobile number portability TV commercial war

  • Nikkyoduks


    For me, MTN’s advert is the best followed by Airtel. Glo’s somehow dry except for the Nollywood face, but Etisalat’s is far behind.
    Beyond this advert, mtn’s services has been very horrible lately but will porting help? They are all mostly the same. I have tried all except Airtel at least in my area but all have their issues with connectivity. As per tarrifs, mtn is the worst particularly when using their line to call a non-mtn line.

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