Major South African mobile operator Cell C on Sunday took the unprecedented step of issuing a full page apology in various Sunday newspapers in response to criticism of its service on YouTube and Facebook.
The advertisements, which appeared in the Sunday Times and Rapport, were addressed to popular comedian Trevor Noah, who had earlier joked about the country’s various cellphone networks, including Cell C, for poor service and dropped calls on a popular YouTube clip and in comments on Facebook.
“Dear Trevor Noah,” wrote Cell C CEO Lars Reichelt in the full page advertisement, “I have seen your Facebook page and your video clip about South Africa’s cellular operators, and in particular Cell C.”
“Your criticism about spotty coverage, dropped calls and overall lack of delivery is not unfounded. We know how frustrated South Africans are with the cellular industry, which is why we are so very serious about turning things around.”
A full page advertisement in the Sunday Times is estimated to cost in the region of R200,000.
In Noah’s YouTube Clip, which shows a rather modest 9,000 views, the comedian referred to the country’s three networks as “horrible” and “monopolies”.
In the clip he devotes time to Cell C, calling the country’s smallest mobile operator the “worst network”.
“If Vodacom is ANC, then Cell C is Cope. That’s disastrous. Cell C drops more calls than Jacob Zuma drops people’s underwear,” quipped Noah in the clip of his stand-up routine to laughter.
Noah’s own website modestly refers to the comedian as “one of the top comedians in the country” with a rise in the comedy realm that has “been nothing short of meteoric”.
On Sunday, Noah’s popular Facebook Page was buzzing with wall posts by fans discussing the Cell C advertisement. Noah’s busy Facebook page has nearly 118,000 fans.
Noah had been largely silent on his Facebook page on Sunday, but did retweet this comment from his official Twitter account: “RT @sunshineshibs: #Cell C A whole apology 2 @Trevornoah on a full page in The SundayTimes! Interesting.Who’s MTN gonna apologise 2 – th …”
Earlier this year Memeburn reported that Cell C was changing its strategy from being a “price leader” to communicating with its subscribers in “whole new ways”, which meant a major new focus on social media.
Reichelt had devoted some time to talking about social media at a financial results presentation, with the CEO saying he would be tweeting about his day-to-day activities from the official Cell C Twitter feed, @cellc, which is also integrated into the company’s official website.
The operator said it was planning on spending around R5-billion this year on upgrading its network and services, which included rolling out the country’s first 4G network in the 900MHz band with high-speed packet access (HSPA+) technology.