Etisalat versus Du | Brand Messaging

Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a prominent psychological theory used to explain human needs, motivation & behavior. According to this model, human needs can be divided into 5 key stages:


The theory posits that the lower needs have to be fulfilled in order to advance to higher levels. However, once the basic needs for survival (food, shelter, safety etc.) are met, we can constantly fluctuate between the higher need-states. For example, when searching for a new job or promotion, esteem needs are triggered.  Thinking about volunteering? That’s the self-actualization talking!

But how do brands tap into these human drivers?

Let’s take a look at the most established telecoms in the region – Etisalat & Du. Both brands’ recent advertising campaigns are given below:



 Etisalat’s key messaging taps into esteem needs – respect, recognition, prestige. This positioning fits the brand’s history, as it was the sole telecommunications provider for numerous decades, and is still the market leader  (TRA stats: Etisalat = 52.6% ).

Du’s messaging focuses more on belongingness needs – social connections & friendships. As Du started out as the contender in the region, this approach has helped differentiate the brand, maybe even helped them reach out to a different audience.

It’s also interesting to notice how strategies change when entering new markets – check out Etisalat’s advertising in Egypt as a new entrant, where the messaging emphasized day-to-day needs:

etisalat egypt


To all you marketers out there, where do you think your next campaign would fit? I’d love to hear!