Staff Reporters
Sep 8, 2022

Asia-Pacific Power List 2022: Shashwat Sharma, Bharti Airtel

The marketing head for the mobile operator has thwarted the omnipresent threat of Reliance Jio in India by investing in an OTT aggregation service and launching a digital ads business.

Asia-Pacific Power List 2022: Shashwat Sharma, Bharti Airtel
Asia-Pacific’s 50 most influential and purposeful marketers

Shashwat Sharma

Director, marketing and communications
Bharti Airtel
New member

When Reliance Jio, the mobile service from Indian conglomerate Reliance, launched its services in India, a swathe of competitors were meant to buckle under the onslaught of a well-funded and ambitious operator. Indeed, Jio did add as many as 16 million subscribers in its first month of operations and threatened to run away with the market. However, despite that threat, competitor Airtel has steadily held its ground and recently even made gains on its arch-rival.

Credit for Airtel’s marketing and brand resurgence goes to Shashwat Sharma, the operator’s marketing and communications director. In the past four years he has been with the company—first as CMO, and now in his present role—he helped fortify the brand’s marketing muscle.

He steered the launch of a brand campaign highlighting its customer focus and claimed Airtel had the largest number of active customers in the market. Two of three consumers opted for Airtel when they switched networks, the firm claimed. According to data from Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, Airtel added over 800,000 new users in April 2022.

Rather than fight for users at the bottom of the pyramid, Sharma and Airtel have focused at the other end, touting the operator’s 5G coverage and talking up offerings such as its video streaming service—Airtel Xstream Premium—which aggregates content from 15 Indian and global video OTTs in one app. 

The service saw more than two million subscribers within 100 days of its launch, tempting Airtel to build on the success with the launch of India’s first multiplex on the Partynite Metaverse platform. This multiplex is an extension of Airtel’s Xstream offering.

Even as he’s added muscle to Airtel’s marketing offerings, Sharma has also been a key player in extending the brand’s reach elsewhere. In February this year, Airtel officially launched its Airtel Ads business to leverage its pool of around half-a-billion subscribers and to allow brands to devise what it termed “consent-based and privacy-safe” campaigns.

Elsewhere, Airtel made an investment in Aqilliz, a blockchain solutions provider. Airtel said it would deploy the firm’s technologies across its Airtel Ads, digital entertainment (Wynk Music & Airtel Xstream) and digital marketplace (Airtel Thanks App) offerings.

Asia-Pacific’s 50 most influential and purposeful marketers


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