Axis Bank: With a solution for everything

By Biprorshee Das , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | May 26, 2010
Through its new ad campaign, Axis Bank positions itself as the bank with a solution for every banking need

Over the last few years, more and more bank brands have attempted to pitch themselves as 'trusted financial partners' by harping on the personal relationships they nurture with their customers. The thrust has been on the special care with which each customer is treated - care that virtually borders on familial bonding.

& #BANNER1 & #With the 'personal' aspect of personal banking becoming something of a commodity, Axis Bank is, through its new advertising campaign, trying a different route. In an attempt to be seen as easy-to-access, quick and efficient, the bank has adopted a new brand positioning - that of being a 'solutions provider'. The campaign, created by Lowe Lintas, pitches Axis Bank's range of products as a means to address every conceivable customer need. The campaign thought is summed up in the slug, 'There's always a solution'.

Presently here are two television commercials on air, each of them 'offering a solution' to a particular issue of the customer. The first TVC shows two army personnel at the Nathula Pass, betting on whether a yak would turn its head or not. At stake is one hundred rupees. When the yak eventually turns around, the soldier who loses the bet says he doesn't have the money. That's when his partner directs him to an Axis Bank ATM close by.

The second film shows an old couple in a bus chastising another man who has just taken a seat reserved for senior citizens. The couple stress that the man should vacate the seat as he doesn't look very old. The man finally has to flash his personalised Axis Bank identity card for senior citizens to prove he can keep the seat. Both commercials demonstrate how every problem has a solution that can be addressed by Axis Bank.

As the bank does not have a clearly defined positioning, the brief for the agency was to position Axis Bank as a solutions provider; the other communication objectives were to lift the brand from being a mere 'product', and breaking the clutter of bank commercials.

According to Lowe Lintas, the recent tendency among banks to emphasise customer-centricity and relationship-building has created significant advertising clutter, leading to low brand differentiation in the category.

"Relationships are after all built by offering innovative solutions," Arun Iyer, national creative director, Lowe Lintas, points out the obvious. Thus the agency deliberately jettisoned the 'relationship building' route in favour of the solutions-provider tack.

"If we look back on our lives, we find that sooner or later, solutions appear for every problem we face. Taking forward that insight, we want to convey that the bank will always have a solution for every banking problem faced by its customers," says Iyer. He adds that more stories will be built around the thought in future commercials. The television campaign will be supported by large-scale outdoor and BTL activities.

The commercials have been directed by Gauri Shinde of Red Eye Productions. The creative team at Lowe Lintas included Iyer, R Balakrishnan, chairperson, Lowe Lintas, AP Zeth and Ashish Kharwatkar.

For some better solutions

The commercials have met with a lukewarm response from the creative experts approached. While the message being conveyed has been appreciated, the opinion is that the execution could have been better.

Rajeev Raja, national creative director, DDB Mudra, is unhappy that in terms of idea and execution, the envelope has not been pushed enough. "The 'senior citizen' film, with the premise of 'mistaken identity', could have led to a far more surprising situation," he says. "Instead, the situation in the bus seems rather tame and amateurishly acted. The situation of a bet in the other film seems a little contrived and familiar, and leads one too obviously to the ATM solution. Also, the acting of the one who loses the bet leaves much to be desired, especially when he fakes dismay at there being no ATM at that altitude." Raja, however, concedes that it is a good positioning platform for the bank to take, and the message would surely sink into the consumer's mind.

Charles Victor, national creative director, Law & Kenneth, also has his reservations. According to him, the messages in the films have little relevance to resonate with the average bank customer. "What is Axis Bank trying to tell me as an average customer?" he asks. "I am not a senior citizen nor am I going to Nathula Pass!" That said, he finds the 'senior citizen' film better than the 'bet' one, which he thinks fails to cut ice.

Victor feels that while the 'twins' campaign - which was created when UTI Bank was rebranded as Axis Bank - had a fresh and young feel to it, the current films have gone the other way. And though he thinks it is "nice that Axis Bank is not being positioned as another relationship bank" he doesn't believe the 'solutions' route is very unique either. "It would have been better to wave the relationship flag with a fresh approach, rather than wave a new one with no new idea. Solution, as an idea, is as clichéd as relationship," Victor avers.