18 Apr 2021

Indian drop calls

Leaving missed calls in this way — effectively using a mobile phone as a kind of latter-day pager — was a consumer hack that, in the 2000s, before India’s cheap smartphone and data revolution, grew more popular than texting. The missed call emerged in India as a critical means of communication for those who counted every rupee spent on recharge credit. But the practice soon spread, became trendy, and, even as call rates plunged in the 2000s to among the lowest in the world, evolved into a general tool of convenience: a missed call could mean “I miss you,” “Call me back,” or “I’m here.” The fact that the missed call demanded only basic numeric literacy made them accessible to the third of India’s population that was illiterate. In 2008, one study estimated that more than half of Indian phone users were in the habit of calling people with the expectation that they wouldn’t pick up.

With a couple of rings to the appropriate ZipDial hotline, customers received automated texts and callbacks that delivered live cricket scores for a big match, a deal on an affordable shampoo, rudimentary on-demand radio for Bollywood songs, or celebrity tweets — content supplied by brands that were struggling to reach offline consumers. In exchange, companies learned about their customers’ preferences and created viral offline marketing campaigns for their products.

Loved this article. There have always been more creative and better solutions for marketing to a population than dumpster diving.

About

Chancee is a designer who codes from London Town.

They have worked for the likes of Nike, Vodafone, Sky, Disney and Pearsons. Won awards from Promax, BAFTAs, the Appys and The Drum. Spoken at The Waldorf and Southampton University - despite swearing like a sailor. Available for hire to draw pretty curves and code clever things.

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