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Birla Sun Life Insurance: The buck is not enough

By Neha Kalra , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | October 16, 2009
The brand is out with two TV commercials for its wealth with protection scheme, which bring out that simply being wealthy is not enough - not until one knows how to protect it. afaqs! explores

It's a popular belief that wealth and fame cannot buy peace of mind. However, if not looked after, wealth could prove to be no less than a nuisance. Birla Sun Life Insurance has, through a recent campaign, depicted that having wealth is no guarantee that uncertainty will not get the better of you, for which one needs to play safe in advance. It has the tagline, Jab tak balla chal raha hai, thaat chal raha hai, Warna...' (Till the bat rules, you rule. Or else...).

Birla Sun Life Insurance, the flagship business, has various solutions under its umbrella, including health, retirement, children and wealth with protection. Two ads have been released - one each with cricketers Virendra Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh - for the wealth with protection solutions.

& #BANNER1 & #Creative batting

The two ads show the lives of the two cricketers - the story of their glory and success, as well as the low points of their careers. The source of their wealth and fame is always dependent on their performance in the field - a wrong shot from their bats could get them down. While dealing with this uncertainty, the cricketers understand and bring out the need for insurance.

Ajay Kakar, chief marketing officer, financial services, Aditya Birla Group explains the root of the problem, saying, " Despite insurance being a 55 year old category with more than 22 brands now, the penetration level is as low as 15 per cent of household savings. Mass India has not understood the relevance of insurance."

He brings out that be it reality shows or cricket, the aspiring Indian is confident and can earn his own success; he can handle the highs and lows of life with great confidence.

The positioning of Jab tak balla chalega came in before the four cricketers - Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma - were roped in as brand ambassadors. With the coining of the tagline, it was thought that cricketers would be best suited for the communication endorsement.

Talking about the creative, Pradyumna Chauhan and Shweta Iyer, senior creative directors at JWT (the agency that looks after Birla Sun Life) are of the view that on a sharper note, the reality is that even if one is successful, one does need to plan. "What everybody doesn't talk about is that famous people are also insecure about burning their money or also that the money may not last."

Howzzat?

When quizzed about the ad, Ambar Chakravarty, executive creative director, Publicis Ambience, is glad to see insurance commercials that make one nervous after a long time.

"One would imagine it to be normal for an industry that plays and thrives on our fears to scare people into buying their products," he says - something that most 'desi' insurance companies have ignored of late. The two commercials, he says, leave the audience with a sense of unease, which from an insurance company's point of view is good news.

However, he does feel that it's a great creative idea laid low in execution. A little cinematic restraint would have done the films a world of good, he believes. "The dialogues, too, were slightly superficial (for instance, where Singh cites that cricket is a funny game) and the resultant emotions came out looking a little insincere, more so in Yuvraj's case," he adds.

Chakravarty further adds that what was absolutely unpardonable was the use of the common line (Jab tak balla…) from both Sehwag and Singh. "The cricketers were speaking about their deepest, darkest sentiments in a way that people had never seen before. But it all came to a naught when they idiotically mouthed the same dialogue in the end," he exclaims.

Vivek Dutta, business director and national planning head, Hakuhodo Percept confesses that the insight is too generic for the category. "As a consumer, I would probably feel motivated to get my life insured but will I choose Birla Sun Life? The commercial does not answer just one critical question - Why Birla Sun Life over someone else?"

Dutta feels that while the insight may not be brand specific, it is category specific. "It is relatable in that sense. Everyone has a sense of euphoric invincibility when things are going right for them - till the time the ceiling comes down on them."

Overall, Dutta feels that the messaging is hard-hitting like the brand endorsers - and definitely different from the rest of the life insurance players.

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