Internationalization of brands to begin with Telecom

The internationalization of local mobile operator brands is likely to be one of the first major changes to the telecom market following EU accession, according to individuals close to the country's three mobile providers.

And, whether this will involve Era changing its name to T-Mobile or Idea to Orange - two changes that have yet to be finalized - it will represent a welcome change from an advertising perspective, at least. "The expansion of the multinational brands will happen sooner or later," says Jacek Hensler-Bryniarski, managing partner at local advertising agency G7, which works very closely with Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa (PTC), the nation's largest mobile provider. Hensler-Bryniarski entertained the scenario in response to recent claims in the market that PTC's Era brand would become T-Mobile after the latter's owner Deutsche Telekom (DT) acquires a majority stake in PTC. Klaus Czerwinski, T-Mobile spokesman, denies claims that there are any specific plans to re-brand Era. He notes that, at present, DT has only a minority stake in PTC, a fact that would not give it the right to re-name the brand. "There are actually no plans to re-brand Era," says Czerwinski. "We could only talk about it if we had a majority stake in the company." But he does allow that with DT there is precedence for a plan to re-brand companies in which it owns a majority stake because it has done so outside Poland. "But," he adds, "that doesn't automatically mean that we will re-brand it." The ongoing battle between DT and Elektrim over a stake in PTC has yet to be resolved. Hensler-Bryniarski, observing the natural brand momentum in an expanding Europe, expects that Era will, in due time, become T-Mobile, something he views positively. "Poland is in a strange situation because of this whole [short-term economic] crisis, but, more and more, Polish business is going to pick up and more and more people are going to be traveling abroad," he says. "And when you're traveling abroad it would be better to have a multinational brand in telecom. From my perspective, if this happens it will be for the benefit of the consumer." He explains that from the standpoint of consumers, who will become more part of a seamless European economy, it would facilitate their lives if brands were similar throughout the expanding EU. Consumers like to see a trusted brand wherever they go - and as Poles become more integrated in Europe, this factor will become increasingly important. Hensler-Bryniarski adds that the internationalization of brands is not "inevitable," but would likely occur.

Timothy Sifert
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