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Bank of India: Fostering relationships beyond the counter

By , agencyfaqs! | In Advertising | October 09, 2006
In a film for the Bank of India, O&M has tried to capture the bond customers share with the bank, rather than talk about better monetary transactions and services


In the & #BANNER1 & # days of technologically advanced banks, 24-hour ATMs, fancy debit and credit card schemes and clipped, mechanical smiles from suave bank employees, it may be quite a task for an age-old heritage bank to hold its own. But, perhaps, such a bank has one advantage other more modern banks don't - a history of long-lasting relationships with its customers over a period of time. And according to the Bank of India, one such bank which has been around for over 100 years, these relationships go way beyond financial transactions.

Says D Krishnamurthy, general manager, marketing, publicity and PR, Bank of India, "As per research we conducted, it was discovered that our customers feel at home with us and often tend to have personal chats with our staff when they visit the bank." So, it was decided that it was time for the bank to bring this quality to the fore in its communication.

O&M, which handles Bank of India, was asked to come up with an idea to position the bank as one that values relationships over money. The agency has launched a campaign comprising television, press, outdoor and radio, with each piece of communication highlighting the thought that the Bank of India understands relationships.

The TVC opens on the shot of an old man placing a coin in his grandson's piggy bank, telling him, "Sambhalke rakhna… koi le na jaye! (Be careful with it… make sure it's not stolen!)" The small boy promptly picks up his piggy bank and goes away. Taking his grandfather's advice seriously, he hugs the piggy bank protectively while sleeping at night and keeps it with him even while bathing the next morning. But he is not happy. In the morning, he sets out of the house purposefully, weathering stormy winds and rain. He reaches a river and gets a boatman to row him to the other shore. While in the boat, the boatman happens to glance at the piggy bank. The boy tightens his hold on the piggy bank and hides it away from the boatman's view.

Finally, he reaches his destination, the Bank of India, presumably his family's bank, as he feels that only there will his piggy bank be safe. A bank employee, who recognises the boy, humours him by storing his piggy bank in a safety deposit box. The voiceover concludes: "Hum jaante hai ki bank mein sirf paise jama nahin hote. Bank of India: Rishton ki Jama Poonji. (We know there's more to banking than money. Bank of India: Relationships beyond Banking.)"

A second TVC will soon follow suit, based on the same thought. Sagar Mahabaleshwarkar, creative director, O&M, borrowed the piggy bank idea from his own personal life. "As a kid, I was fascinated by my piggy bank, always fussing with it," he says. The TG for this ad, according to Mahabaleshwarkar, is anyone who feels that this bank is not for him/her.

When asked about the 'relationships' angle becoming the tried and tested formula for bank ads, Mahabaleshwarkar explains, "I have no doubts that other ads have walked down this lane. But the treatment in this case is completely different. Most banks are high on technology, but which one would allow a kid to come into the bank like that?"

The 'Relationships beyond Banking' thought emerged as a result of a few agency-client meetings. During these meetings, Krishnamurthy of Bank of India would narrate some incidents that took place in the bank, mostly instances of bank employees helping customers in personal matters. "We have a branch in Bhopal, where most of our customers come from a deaf-and-dumb institute near the bank," says Krishnamurthy. So, the bank sent its staff to the institute to learn sign language so that they could assist their customers better.

"There are many such instances to prove that the bank has fostered relationships that go beyond banking, which is how the idea took birth," says Mahabaleshwarkar. This is perhaps why the bank employee is shown as recognising the boy in the ad, with the deeper meaning being that he probably knows the entire family.

The film has been directed by Shoojit Sircar of Red Ice Films, with London based Jacob Ihre manning the camera. The ad was shot in Kerala over two days. Elements such as the boy adjusting his clothes during his journey and taking shelter under a roof during the rain were added by Sircar to build the suspense about where the boy is headed. The background score, a slightly lethargic Spanish folk tune, has been composed by Ram Sampat.

The press and the outdoor ads explore different aspects of relationships, such as a mother with her newborn, an old couple, a father and a son, with copy such as 'There's something greater than being related, its relating', and 'The best conversations are when she listens to what you're not saying'.

The radio spots are snippets of conversation between people. The listener gets the feeling that they are old friends. Towards the end, one of them says, "So, would you like to have your passbook?", thus revealing to the listener that one of them is a Bank of India employee.

The campaign has been conceptualised by Mahabaleshwarkar, along with Louella Rebello, Nitin Pradhan and Rakesh Pandit.

© 2006 agencyfaqs!

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