Sahara Life Insurance: Gabbar or Samba, bring them on

By Devina Joshi , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | July 03, 2008
In a new ad for the national launch of Sahara Life Insurance, Percept H harps on self-confidence in an insured man as a brand building route


here's presenting yet another example of how the Indian ad industry can't get over its fascination with the 1975 blockbuster, Sholay, and its legendary characters (particularly Gabbar Singh). In an ad for the national rollout of Sahara Life Insurance, Percept/H has gone the Gabbar route to perpetuate self-confidence in a Sahara Life Insurance user.

While Anurag Chhabra, vice-president, Percept/H Lucknow, admits that "Gabbar has been overdone in advertising", he insists that "the context and creative route in our case is different".

Filling out insurance
papers at office
Happily leaving office
A detour to Gabbarland
Eating peanuts and
challenging Gabbar...
...thanks to self confidence
with Sahara Life Insurance
To put things in perspective, the Lucknow based Sahara Life Insurance was launched a few years ago (among the first wholly owned Indian life insurance companies in the private sector), but not at a national level. With the decision to go pan-India now came the reason for a national ad campaign. "We realised that with more than 10 players in this category, we had to find a niche for ourselves," elaborates Chhabra on being a late entrant in the market.

After research by Percept, it was deduced that messages in the insurance space are either pegged around a life stage or a need. Therefore, Sahara adopted a premise that is aimed to address insurance needs through various life stages and goes beyond the need for insurance. It speaks of the self-confidence, fearlessness and empowerment people gain once insured.

The TV commercial shows a government office where the protagonist, a regular working man, is signing the insurance papers with a smile on his face. As he gets ready to go home, he takes his lunch box and a quintessential briefcase and exits the office. He drives towards his house on his Priya scooter, picking up some peanuts on his way. While he is driving, he takes a detour. He reaches an unknown place (an isolated, mountainous spot), which resembles the den of a dacoit. Sitting casually atop his scooter, he munches on his peanuts and bravely calls out for Gabbar Singh, challenging him to a brawl. The voiceover explains, "Atmavishwas Ki Nayi Taaqat", with the logo shot.

While some private players focus on the higher strata of society in metros, Sahara Life Insurance hopes to address the common man in its communication and the confidence and fearlessness that insurance brings with it.

Directed by Pushpendra Misra, director, Flying Saucer, in a 'filmi' fashion over four days, the film alternates between Lucknow (the office shots, taken in an old college building) and Gwalior (the rocky mountain slope scenes). "I had to show the story of a common man with uncommon self-confidence," says Misra. To add to the staging, Misra added the 'speaking while having peanuts' bit. The cinematography is by Sanu Verghis. Rizwan Siddiqui, creative consultant, Sahara India Corporate Communications, has scripted the film.

Abhijet Sarckar, head, communications, Sahara India Pariwar, says the advert is supposed to portray that once a common man gets this kind of self-confidence, he is all set to take on the biggest challenges in life (the ad exaggerates to show that he even invites trouble because he feels secure enough to tackle it).

As Gabbar or Samba or any of the other characters in Sholay aren't even shown in the film, it was important to build an environment that reflected the den of the iconic Hindi film dacoit. "We cashed in on the recall of the famous character, which is perhaps where we differ from other ads that borrow blatantly from Sholay," says Chhabra.

© 2008 afaqs!