Phone quest, or Please be less creative

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By: Marina Natanova

Like in many other countries, telecom operators in Russia do not have fixed contracts with phone producers: you buy a phone and a contract (sim-card) separately. To my mind, it is quite convenient: you can change phones or operators as often as you like or need. Problems spring up when you discover that you probably need two contacts,  e.g. one for business, another for personal contracts. If the case becomes crucial, you need a second phone, which is quite uncomfortable. So Samsung Duos mobile supporting 2 sim-cards was one of the biggest news items of the Russian mobile market in 2007.

I’d been having two-phone-trouble for about 3 months when I saw Duos ads: “Mobile phone with 2 sim-cards”. My immediate reaction was “I want it, because I need it”. I am a very loyal user of Nokia, but convenience first. So I immediately headed to the shop to ask the only question I had: “How does the thing work?” Is it really more convenient than two phones? How do I switch between two sim-cards? Etc. etc. To my surprise, sales people had a very general idea about the phone, because several stock deliveries had been sold out within 2-3 days (wow…). Having left several mobile retailers with “How does it work” question unanswered, I gave up and decided to look it up on the web.

The official Samsung site gave only a standard product description. The same results came from search systems. “Supports 2 sim-cards” was all information about the main feature, distinguishing this phone from all others. On the phrase “DP solution ARM9 and ARM7” I got confused and turned to the most useful source of information – blogs. Bloggers didn’t know how it worked. They didn’t even discuss the phone itself – but they violently discussed it’s ads, which appeared in various messages and vehicles:

  • “Jugglers” TV commercials (Toilet, Cafe, Bird) – about how dangerous juggling can be
  • Brutal “Jugglers” viral commercials (Bowling, Barbecue, Pens) – with even more dangerous juggling
  • Teaser and follow-up OOH posters “Choose” and “Choose both”, (red and yellow are two biggest telecom operators’ colours here, so people also buzzed that Samsung left the third big one outboard – resulting in a forced change of creative materials)
  • Print insertions with the same “Choose both” message

None of the ads showed how the phone worked, but they led me to the official product site… and it was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. A flash on the front page showed a man juggling a female shoe, a milk bottle, a gun, and ohmygodwhatisit?

The first button opened a lengthy “blockbuster” about a restaurant owner, his wife, his new manager and his lover. Puzzled, I watched it till the end (to know there are games following the movie) to be left with even more questions.

Who are those people and why do they behave as if we are still in after-perestroyka “gangsta nineties”? OK, the phone is quite expensive, so – do the characters represent Russian middle-class??? What is a connection between this parental-control-advised-movie and the phone? And finally, can anybody tell me HOW DOES THE PHONE WORK???

The flash giving a general idea of how-it-works was found on the third button. But till the moment I discovered it, I already gave up, finally and irrevocably. I am not buying it. Great product, great insight, but… overcomplicated. Over-performed. Over-creative-ated.

The first phone can be your best friend, your most useful tool, element of your style, etc. But the second is a necessity. We two-phone jugglers do not need to be conviced that we need a simpler solution – we already want it. “Mobile phone with 2 sim-cards” was probably the only message we needed – all the rest of the expensive creative works look like a waste of money (retail problem is a good proof). So… my big question to Nokia: as you already know this product is in demand, can we please have your 2 sim-card phone here? And a big scream towards Samsung: guys, PLEASE… be less creative.