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SBI Mutual Fund: Cutting the tax burden

By Biprorshee Das , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | February 17, 2010
In its latest commercial, SBI Mutual Fund addresses investors with real life situations to connect with the message of investing in mutual funds and saving taxes

It is that time of the year again - when the salaried class is busy racking brains to make last minute investments, trying to ensure that tax cuts in the next salary are avoided as much as possible. It is also the time when mutual funds and insurance companies push their tax saving schemes more aggressively than ever.

SBI Mutual Fund, one of the 42 fund houses in the Indian mutual fund industry, in its latest television commercial reaches out to prospective investors with situations they could relate with as it passes the message to invest in the tax saving fund, the Magnum Taxgain scheme.

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The commercial, created by Percept/H, showcases a series of situations that harp on the phrase 'Cut Rahi Hai'. A couple of friends converse in office about how finances are tight with tax cuts, a housewife works in a kitchen complaining about less shopping and entertainment due to tax cuts, a young boy cribs about lesser pocket money and in a humorous turn to the ad, a man accidentally cuts off his moustache while shaving when his son throws a ball at him.

A voiceover follows, explaining how investing in SBI Mutual Fund will save taxes, with the benefit of returns on investment. The ad ends with the person who earlier complained about his finances to his friend saying that life is better now - 'Life achhi kat rahi hai!'

The ad has been produced by Madhukar Kotian and directed by Nitish Sharma of Fingerprint Films. Akhil Saxena and Shekhar Karpe, creative directors at Percept/H, have worked on the copy and art, respectively.

The brief to the agency was to develop a campaign to promote Magnum Taxgain scheme as a tool not only to save tax but also to get the benefit of investment. Percept/H worked on the insight that tax cuts in income have an impact on the lifestyle and sacrifices have to be made.

On the creative thought, Saxena says, "It is imperative to avoid the regular clichés such as 'double benefit' and focus on the simple, single minded proposition of making tax saving more relevant to the masses, using creative expressions."

Real life situations are used to help the investor to relate to them better and build the connect.

"The situations we have built in the film are today and tomorrow and not just about the future, which is what most insurance companies communicate about. While insurance companies are 'protection' oriented, mutual funds are 'investment' oriented. The light heartedness built in the situations in the film help the viewer to relate better," says Sartaj Jaffri, vice-president, Percept/H.

"The subtle use of humour is intended to drive home the message in a tone and manner that is acceptable and entertaining, without making it frivolous, since investments are no laughing matter," adds Karpe.

It must be noted that fund houses have to stick to certain guidelines while advertising. Among the many restrictions are that mutual funds cannot suggest guaranteed returns, cannot use superlatives or celebrities to endorse their products, any performance claims have to be qualified by a recognised body and the inevitable five second reminder that says fund investments are subject to market risks.

With such restrictions, the message sometimes gets difficult to deliver, Srinivas Jain, chief marketing officer, SBI Mutual Fund tells afaqs!.

"The message on television is just about the product. It just gives visibility. We do not expect one medium to say it all and hence have to depend on other media to support the campaign," Jain says.

The TVC is being supported by print, radio, outdoor and digital campaigns and will continue till mid March.

Allied Media, the media planning, evaluation and buying arm of Percept, handles the media mandate for SBI Mutual Fund.

Cut to the opinions

The TVC has met with mixed responses within the fraternity. While some appreciate the insight, others call for a more powerful one.

Josy Paul, chairperson and chief creative officer, BBDO India speaks about the low penetration of mutual funds. "Mutual funds are a tough category to crack these days. You really need a powerful fresh insight and an innovative product bundle to break through the low interest that people have in mutual funds, clear segmentation of need and purpose and a very sharp proposition," he says.

Paul feels that there is a need to be startlingly salient and cites the earlier SBI campaign (Surprisingly SBI).

"Given this background, the new spot from SBI Mutual Fund is just a play of words," he remarks.

Nilesh Vaidya, executive creative director, Euro RSCG lauds the insight but thinks the creative idea could have been better. "The effect of too much tax on your life is a powerful, everyday insight but I don't think the creative idea is compelling enough," he says.

"Of course, the film empathises but on such a sensitive topic, I guess anything would touch me," Vaidya quips.