A dispute lodged by the UK’s Vodafone at the Advertising Standards Authority appears to have inadvertently provided insights into Vodacom’s plans to rebrand itself this year. Vodafone owns 65% of Vodacom.
Vodafone lodged a complaint against an advertisement aired by Cell C on the SABC during the December holidays.
The offending advertisement contained the phrase “power to you”, a twist on the Cell C’s campaign slogan, “the power is in your hands”.
Vodafone also uses the phrase “power to you” in its worldwide marketing. Its objection to Cell C’s campaign suggests Vodacom plans to use the same slogan when it rebrands itself. The rebranding is expected within months.
TechCentral revealed last year that Vodacom would rebrand itself in 2011. Its rivals, MTN (with “Ayoba”), Cell C and Telkom’s 8ta (with “Heita”) have all launched high-profile advertising and marketing campaigns in recent months.
It’s been speculated that Vodacom plans to do away with its familiar green and blue branding in favour of Vodafone’s all-red approach.
Vodafone’s complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority shows it began using the “power to you” slogan in a number of European and Middle Eastern countries in 2009. It was also adopted in Egypt, Ghana, Germany and Albania.
The UK company has applied to have “power to you” registered as a trademark in SA.
Cell C’s told the advertising authority in its response that the slogan used in its advertising on the SABC was a spin-off of its “the power is in your hands” slogan. It argued that Vodacom had not used the pay-off line in its advertising.
However, Vodafone managed to prove its intention was to use the slogan in SA and the authority ruled that Cell C must stop using it.
Cell C CEO Lars Reichelt says he is “puzzled” by the ruling. “Cell C was the first company to apply for this slogan to be registered as a trademark in SA,” he says.
“The authority has found in favour of Vodafone, which is an international company, over Cell C, which is an SA company in our own territory, even though we strongly doubt whether SA consumers would recognise ‘power to you’ as being associated with Vodafone,” Reichelt says. “We are studying the ruling and will decide on our next steps soon.” — Candice Jones, TechCentral
Vodafone UK advertisement showing the “power to you” slogan (via YouTube):