How far is
it possible to convince an illiterate villager to use the full-fledged services of a bank just like the people living in the metro cities of the country? State Bank of India (SBI) has been doing fairly well in most metro cities after O&M launched the 'Surprisingly SBI' campaign in 2005. But when it came to the vast rural population of India, the popularity of the bank was found to be almost negligible.
To replicate its success in the rural areas, SBI decided to launch a customised campaign with O&M to familiarise villagers with banking services and make SBI a known name. The task for O&M was to educate the villagers about banking and increase footfalls in the nearest SBI branches. This work by the agency was shortlisted in the Best Media Strategy - Services category at the Emvies 2007 case study presentation.
The villagers did not use any banking service because of the prevailing myths -banking involves too much paper work that is difficult to understand and it is only for rich people and not for illiterates.
O&M targeted young farmers and traders in the age groups of 18 years and above and chose high tractor penetration markets in states such as Punjab, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh (AP). The villages to be addressed in these states were selected on the basis of proximity to the closest SBI branches. A selection of 121 towns in 16 districts was made for AP, 64 towns in 15 districts for Punjab and 19 towns in 12 districts for Haryana.
Because most of these towns faced continuous power cuts and people did not read newspapers, reaching them through TV and print was out of the question. Ogilvy decided to grab the attention of these people through street plays and demonstrations that acted as a substitute for the 30 second TVCs. The street plays were adapted to the local idiom and incorporated region specific issues.
The plays were performed by artists from the National School of Drama and narrated the experience of two parties, one lot who use banks and another that uses the traditional methods of saving and borrowing. The former party narrated the benefits of banking in a story-like format and it went a long way in making villagers understand the product information in an entertaining manner.
Promotion vans were placed in village 'haats', hubs of transaction for farmers. The vans played the pre-recorded street play to attract people around them. When people gathered, the promoters would explain the products and services using flip charts and leaflets. After the entire activity was completed, wall paintings were put up in these towns and villages to keep the message and the brand floating in the consumer's mind.
According to results measured by Indica Research, for a sample of 3,000 individuals in the three states, close to 70 per cent individuals understood the benefits of banking and believed that it was for their personal convenience, close to 65 per cent believed that the paper work involved was simple, and close to 60 per cent were convinced that obtaining loans from SBI was easy and simple. In all, 5,88,968 response forms were collected and passed onto the relevant branches as a database of leads.