afaqs!

ING Vysya Bank: A friend who will take you places

By Devina Joshi , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | November 14, 2008
ING Vysya Bank has launched its first ever communication in India

And & #BANNER1 & # here's presenting another financial brand that promises to befriend its consumers. ING Vysya Bank has launched its first ever official campaign in India, which positions it as a bank that "is like a friend who makes life easy for you".

The premise of a financial brand as a customer's 'friend' has been done several times before. So what's new? "See, while others may have gone the friendship route, no one player clearly owns that thought," says Tina Sachdev, creative director and associate vice-president, JWT Bengaluru, the agency on the account. "We are touching upon only one insight of friendship here: Friends open up many doors for you."

The ad has a woman opening her door to a man whom she identifies as "Rakesh's friend", because of which she welcomes him in. Similarly, a young man, a housewife and a Punjabi couple are seen opening their doors to a 'stranger' who is ushered into their homes simply because he is "Rakesh's friend". The voiceover concludes that sometimes, some friends open many doors of opportunity for you, much like ING Vysya, through which one can withdraw money from the ATM machine of any bank, free of cost, thanks to the Orange Savings account. 'Jiyo easy!' goes the punch line.

This is the first ever attempt that ING Vysya Bank has made at advertising in India; the only other ads were for its insurance arm (the Mera Farz series) and mutual funds (Expect the Unexpected). "Yes, ING is eyeing India seriously and is already fairly strong in South India. It was time to give a face to the bank," explains Sachdev. The ad has been created by Sachdev, along with Thoppil Paul and Deepa Tekur.

Sachdev explains that the whole idea is to paint ING as a bank that creates relationships with its customers and takes a personal interest in its customer's life and problems. Bank of India, anyone? Says Sachdev, "I haven't seen the Bank of India ads, but ING's attempt is clearly to add that personal touch of friendship to its every banking relationship - something that the brand already does well in the South."

ING Vysya has created what it calls the Orange Savings account, and from now onwards, plans to prominently leverage Orange and its mascot, the lion, in all its communication.

The campaign makes use of TV, print and outdoor. The JWT team explored ING's global brand pillars and the key communication themes in the category seemed to be return on investment, growth, trust, partnership, promise of prosperity, relationship, commitment and customer focus.

To attempt differentiation, JWT conducted research and found that consumers perceived banking to be a huge chore. The word itself conjured images of long queues, painstaking processes, lack of transparency and the presence of bureaucracy. ING then came up with its differentiated ATM service offering and decided to use that in its communication.

"We looked at our global brand pillars and there too we saw that one key ING promise is that it is 'easy to deal with'. So, it all seemed to fall in place," says Sachdev. 'Jiyo Easy', thus, became the expression of the brand promise.

Sonalee Panda, product and marketing head, retail banking, ING Vysya, says, "'Jiyo Easy' is not just an advertising message. It means far more to us - in fact, it is our rallying philosophy - what we have pledged to offer to our customers across the country."

A second ad by JWT shows a man who wants to start his own 'dhaba', whose friends humorously volunteer in their own unique ways to help him in his enterprise - this film is for ING Business Banking, which offers loans to entrepreneurs to set up their own businesses. The films have been produced by Code Red Films.

The creative fraternity doesn't seem to be particularly impressed by ING Vysya's attempt at brand building. Manish Bhatt, vice-president and executive creative director, Contract Advertising, says, "Warm, caring and friendly is the most clichéd tone of voice and finds its way into every client brief. Maybe with the economic slowdown, the friendly tone is necessary, but there's no denying that every brand at some point has attempted the same tone."

"This is safe advertising," he says.

Further, Bhatt feels that either children or pets are typically shown in an ad to create an emotional connect: This ad makes use of both. "But these elements are lost as the ad wraps up very fast… you can do that with a slapstick ad, but emotional ads take a little bit longer to create that build-up," he says. "You can't fast forward an emotion."

Bhatt also feels that the brand, in its effort to be friendly, misses out on talking of the special ATM offering when one is in critical need of cash, making it "look more of a corporate type ad, than one for a special ATM feature". He concedes, however, that the casting and the look of the film are above par.

Bobby Pawar, chief creative officer, Mudra Group, doesn't mince his words when he says, "Who is Rakesh? Is he a kid, because he has a friend that we never see? It's all a bit of a head scratcher really. Wait, I get it… ING Vysya's ATM card is a person whose friendship opens many doors for you. I wonder if Rakesh has one?"