Posts by Hazem Kaddour - Khadra

How mobile operator Tunisiana tuned in to Tunisia’s anxious optimism

The Arab Spring got started last January after Tunisians ousted Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, their president and dictator. But 24 hours after he flew away, much of the hope generated by the popular uprising started turning into fear. The social instability, the strikes, the uncertain economic situation made Tunisians very anxious—you might say they were anxiously optimistic.

The authorities imposed a curfew in response to rumors of robberies and other crimes, and people became obsessed with staying in contact with relatives so they could be assured of their safety. Since many retailers closed down, Tunisiana, the leading mobile operator, decided to credit each of its 6.5 million subscribers (most of whom are prepaid) the equivalent of 65 cents per day during the curfew. This move was very well received, a note of solidarity that reinforced the brand as the closest to people in Tunisia.

This move was also the reason why a month later, Tunisiana was one of the first brands able to go back to advertising (initially on outdoor and radio ads), the first to give a point of view on what the country was going through. Created by JWT Tunis, it was a simple message, anchored in the brand values: The future can only be bright. This commercial, celebrating the new birth of Tunisia, launched a little over a year ago. A Facebook app invited people to send optimistic messages to their friends in the future, and the number of messages sent was shown on the app as an optimism meter.

The campaign was one of the year’s most remembered, and the slogan “Belmosta9bel metfelin” became a popular expression to express optimism. The brand said just what people needed to hear, to believe again in their future.