Aircel – From corporate social responsibility to real numbers!


Aircel is India’s fifth largest mobile service operator (as of Oct. 2009) providing both post-paid and prepaid services in as many as 18 out of 23 telecom circles in the country. It is joint venture between Maxis Communications of Malaysia and the Apollo hospital enterprise of India.


Aircel had long been one of the biggest players down South. But since 2005 it started looking for a pan–India expansion strategy. It has increased its presence across various telecom circles at breakneck speed. For this they have used a large number of initiatives which have captured the public imagination like never before. Some of its initiatives it used in Maharashtra when they launched last year –

  • During the IPL matches, it had a live scorecard at the Mahim causeway in Mumbai
  • It had projected its logo on the Gateway of India
  • Aircel branded airport cards had names of celebrities
  • Various directional signages were put up at different places and also a tree – like structure with Aircel branded boxes
  • One of their biggest and most successful initiatives was putting up a rubber dinghy on billboards in various places across Mumbai where there were chances of flooding. When the flooding did happen, people in Aircel branded shirts were present to help everyone be safe

This year the boat campaign “Sail through our network this monsoon” has been expanded to include newer locations such as Andheri, Bhandup, Wadala Bridge among 10 locations. It includes newer subways and also bus shelters.

Some of their pan – India corporate social responsibility campaigns include –

  • The “Save our Tigers” campaign to save the 1411 remaining tigers in partnership with the WWF
  • The “Aircel Donate Phone Program” which requires one to donate their working / non working old phones to Aircel who would give it to people in old age homes with free talk time for a year

All these various initiatives make at least one thing clear. Aircel’s network may not be that good but its various initiatives are making heads turn. But is all this enough to succeed in the market? Aren’t a good network, better customer services, high revenues, cheap call rates and things like that important?

Aircel though is different. It seems to have defied industry predictions and is proving to be a sure – fire dark horse.

  • It recorded highest growth of 37.2% (2009-10) among all the mobile operators.
  • It has moved to the fifth position in terms of number of subscribers (27.7 million)
  • It has been conferred with various marketing and branding awards over the last one year
  • People have been so impressed with its boat campaign in Mumbai that it has decided to launch it in Delhi and Kolkata as well this year

In an industry which is reaching saturation level with everyone going for low prices, Aircel is leading a revolution in the world of innovation. It has also set up an innovations bank for the generation of new ideas.

Someone has rightly pointed out that Aircel is literally the 12th man in the market. If the 12th man has to get into the team, he has to do things differently which would get others talking.

What do you think is the right way for a new entrant into the telecom market? Concentrating on better products / services or marketing / branding?

  1. Amit Sharma says

    Aircel CSR campaigns are very effective and it is quite amazing how they carry out the same.

  2. Ram says

    Wish their service and billing is also as good as their branding and marketing initiatives. My woeful experience with aircel for more than a year.

    1. Ram says
  3. Nikhil Bhagia says

    innovative, i must admit !
    but, what i strongly believe that quality of services should be improved first !
    though on second thoughts, it might turn out that they get the subscribers first, & eventually they’ll have to improve quality to survive in the long run !
    guess only time will reveal how it works out to be ! :))

  4. Yaamini says

    As u say Aircel is doing pretty well in South India. In Tamil Nadu the network and call rates are damn good. Its still yet to improve in other parts of India and with so many campaigns and initiatives i am sure it ll reach th top in the market very soon.

  5. suraj jain says

    Aircel is doing really gud in EASTERN india ..

    Pic @ Guwahati .. something similar what they done during Mumbai floods

    1. Aseem Rastogi says

      This campaign looks to have taken the nation by storm. I am sure they would be working to improve their services / products also continously with this.

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