Guru Nair connects Austrians to phone company

By Mehru Jaffer, IANS,

Vienna : When 33-year-old Ramesh Nair talks, Austrians listen, because the choreographer and actor and new mascot of Telering has the answer to all their problems.

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Whether on the golf course or at a supermarket, when in doubt Austrians are told to ask the Indian for a solution in all Telering advertisements playing on the radio and television round the clock these days.

Telering is Austria’s fourth largest mobile phone operator with an earning of over 200 million euros and Nair, the German-born, Vienna-based choreographer and actor of Indian origin, is the new brand ambassador of the company, a job that he is expected to perform for at least a year, if not more.

“Listen to the Indian” is Telering’s new slogan on television, radio, posters and on larger than life billboards. “Ask the Indian…” is the punch line along with the warm, smiling face of Nair that is expected to rope in a million more subscribers.

Chosen from a cast of 50 aspirants, Nair is naturally delighted with his new avatar as the wise man of Telering for more reasons than one.

“The money is finally good. I can now concentrate on just dance and music. Besides I love television,” Nair told IANS. The head of Sophistikids, a performing arts company for children, he is in the midst of choreographing “Annie”, the musical about a little orphan that will premier later this year in Vienna.

He is also rehearsing for a Vienna performance of “Guys and Dolls” the popular Broadway musical that ran for 555 shows in London in 1953. But most of the time, he performs on stage.

In the latest Telering advertisement launched on television Oct 1, a very big European asks a pretty woman who is sharing a steaming bathtub with him if she would still love him if he were not a multi millionaire.

The slender beauty hesitates, and she twirls her damp curls before saying, “I don’t know…ask the Indian”.

In the next shot the Indian is shown soaking in between the Europeans in the same bathtub with his turban on. Despite the sexy surroundings of the scene the reply of the Indian is a melange of philosophy and practicality that viewers find both original and funny.

Telering is in the midst of an aggressive but colourful campaign to promote new discount offers with the help of Nair.

The second child of a couple from Kerela that came to Germany in the 1960s to work here in the medical profession, dance has been Nair’s passion for as long as he can remember.

“I grew up listening to Indian music in our home. As a child I loved to tap dance. Afraid that my dancing would destroy her furniture and decorations, my mother enrolled me in a dance school when I was seven years old,” recalls Nair.

But his skill as a dancer is not why the casting directors chose Nair to play the Telering mascot.

“It was a combination of Ramesh’s very Indian personality and the way he speaks German like a natural,” explains Andrea Starl of Blink, the advertising agency that specialises in building strong brands.

“We sat at this very table, playing with different ideas and wondering how we could help Telering conquer the heart of customers,” Michael Heine, 50, creative director, told IANS.

Out of five brands and four telecommunication operators in a country with more than eight million mobile phone users, Telering is known for offering consumers low prices.

Blink wanted to say that Telering’s prices may be low but the bargain that a subscriber strikes is smart.

“We wanted to promote the brand as a reliable pillar of strength not just for the moment but in times to come. We gave three ideas to Telering and the client loved the Indian theme,” Michael Braun, head of Blink, said.

Together with Tobias Federsel, 33, the scriptwriter, Heine who has never been to India eventually created an image of the wise Indian for Telering who is a master of the art of reaching out to other human beings in a warm, friendly and colourful way as portrayed by Nair.