Circles.Life has launched an ad on Facebook and Instagram amidst the COVID-19 situation. The ad features a hand sanitiser that looks similar to the ones produced by Dettol. The brand is replaced with the word "Data". Phrases such as "Free Home Delivery", "#1 Most Recommended Telco", and "Be 100% connected" are also seen on the bottle.
In the social media post, Circles.Life said: "We might not be able to protect you against 99.9% of germs, but we can definitely protect you 100% against telco contracts, bill shocks, FOMO, and more!". The term "FOMO" means fear of missing out. It is safe to say that the telco is giving a nod to Dettol, which is known to market its products with the unique selling point of "killing 99.9% of bacteria".
In a statement to Marketing, Masyitah Manaf, Circles.Life's social media art director, said the ad was created as the brand wanted to make its content relatable to its audience. Masyitah added that as part of the social media team, it is essential to be able to have content that customers can see and think, "This is so me, I should share this to a friend."
Masyitah also said in an era where memes are popping up across various channels, the team finds that recreating these memes and adapting them to Circles.Life has led to more of its audiences responding to the brand and replying that it gets them. On why the team chose to create a COVID-19 related ad, despite the sensitivities around the issue, Masyitah said Circles.Life does not shy away from hard topics, and is always talking about what is current to make relatable content. "We are embracing these topics to engage customers with content that matters to them, with a dash of humor and fun added in our content," Masyitah said.
Meanwhile, a recent check by Marketing showed that in Asia Pacific, there was a 10 times increase in "coronavirus" blocking during the first two months of 2020, according to Laura Quigley, MD, Southeast Asia at Integral Ad Science (IAS). In February, "coronavirus" became the top most blocked keyword in the region and had four times higher blocked impressions than the blocked keywords such as "killed" or "death". This trend is set to continue in March, and the numbers are slated to take over the February blocking volumes.
Circles.Life has been known for its cheeky ads. In February, the telco got individuals dressed as cats to promote its 4G network. According to Circles.Life, the telco chose cats as just like how cats get into every nook and cranny, its 4G+ coverage does too. These "cats" went all around Singapore, and could be seen on trains and public places sipping on coffee.
During that same month in Australia, it also launched an unbranded ad printed in Australian newspaper The Courier Mail, which was disguised as a breakup letter written by Charlotte, to her then-partner, “T”. Circles.Life revealed that it orchestrated a “heartbroken Charlotte” letter on The Courier Mail newspaper to call out toxic relationships with telcos (not a move completely unfamiliar to our Singapore readers). According to the telco, through garnering feedback, it noticed that Australians have been unhappy in their relationships with their telcos. Circles.Life turned these complaints into an advertisement disguised as a breakup letter by an allegedly heartbroken lady called "Charlotte".
Meanwhile two weeks ago, Circles.Life has reportedly said that less than 5% of its global headcount has been laid off. In a Business Times article, the telco said that this comes as part of a downsizing exercise that has been ongoing since November 2019. The article added that all departments were impacted, while Rohan Talwar, Circles.Life head of corporate development was quoted stating that as a performance-based company, the bottom 10% will be the first ones to go. Marketing understands that a mix of management and executive level staff were let go. Circles.Life declined to comment.