Aegon Religare: A lifetime of surprises

By Biprorshee Das , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | July 27, 2010
Known for taking a different approach to communication in the category, Aegon Religare, in its new campaign, talks of how life could throw rude shocks when one is least prepared for it

Surprises could be rude or not welcome - and going by the new Aegon Religare Life Insurance campaign, it could make one buy insurance, too. Known for its past campaigns that have taken alternative routes to communication in the category (Wonder Babies and Kam Insurance Lene Ki Bimari), the insurance company now talks of how life has an uncanny way of throwing surprises - not necessary pleasant ones - and how it is always a better idea to be prepared.

A set of three television commercials have been created by Ogilvy India for the 'Life Can Surprise You' campaign. Through everyday situations, they show how just about anything can happen, anytime.

The first TVC shows a laughter club with a group of senior men laughing out loud in a park. Soon, a bee flies right into the mouth of one of the men as the rest of the group watches in shock.

The second film shows three men returning from a fancy dress party, dressed up as a cow, a rabbit and a deer respectively. The one dressed up as a deer stops the car and heads to the forest nearby to answer nature's call - when he is shot at by a hunter!

In the third TVC, a young executive is shown talking into the phone, walking across his office. He soon enters a room where he leans against a glass window - only to fall out of it. A couple of men who had just removed the glass from the window look around with surprise.

Each ad ends with a cheeky music note and a line that says 'Life can surprise you'. This is the first campaign done for the company by Ogilvy after the business moved to the agency from Contract Advertising.

The creative team at Ogilvy behind the campaign included Anup Chitnis, executive creative director and Anuraag Khandelwal, senior creative director. The production house is Nirvana Films.

Highlighting the need to be insured, the campaign, using humour as a premise, ensures that the messaging lands as relevant and avoids the use of morbidity or being frivolous. The brief said that the campaign should put across the message that it is an uncertain world with certain solutions.

Explaining how the films are actually open ended, Pradeep Pandey, director, branding and communication, Aegon Religare Life Insurance says that it is just a bee that is shown moving in and not anything fatal that happens to the old man. The hunter is shown shooting at the antler and not necessarily the man; and the height of the building, too, is not shown in the Window TVC.

"You do not need to be morose all the time to advertise in this category. We have been careful not to go over the top. This is really not laughing out loud material but this is how you hold the people's attention. You do not want to remind people of the same grim realities," Chitnis tells afaqs!.

"It is very easy to show a smiling family in insurance ads but then you and I would not remember the ad. Our objective is to inform as well as impress the consumer - and it is only a 30 second story you are telling; it better be something new and fresh," adds Pandey.

The campaign, led by television, will be supported through the digital and online media as well. The digital campaign will break soon. Aegon Religare has earmarked Rs 5 crore for this particular campaign.

The media duties for the company are handled by Mediacom.

Surprise verdict

The films have evoked mixed responses from creative experts. While some see humour taking away the seriousness of insurance, others say that the insight could be more serious than one imagines.

Ambar Chakravarty, executive creative director, Publicis Ambience is a tad disappointed.
"Insurance is a pretty serious business. It is a high-involvement purchase. Humour here needs to calibrate, keeping in mind the category and the consumer," he says.

According to Chakravarty, the films per se are quite interestingly executed and he says that one need not comment much on Nirvana's work, which he finds very impressive.

Nitin Pradhan, executive creative director (Uninor), Leo Burnett, on the other hand, finds the approach fresh. He is of the view that it is a good positioning for the brand to take and will resonate well with the audience.

"Watching the ads purely from a viewer's point of view, I found that they were engaging and easy to remember," says Pradhan.

Interestingly, he says that the light hearted take, if taken with a pinch of salt, is far more serious than actually showing a grim situation.

"Surprise, by definition, does not come every day. Hence, the situation in such films must be believable. One must be careful because there could be a very thin line between what is believable and what is considered outlandish," he says.

Both Chakravarty and Pradhan put their money on the Window film, which they think is more relatable.

"A joke will not make me buy insurance but a good argument would. The Window film does that. It is more relevant than the rest and yet funny. The rest are a bit over the top and come across as trying too hard," says Chakravarty.

Pradhan agrees. "The Window film looks the best and most real. It looks like it could actually happen. The others might just make one feel, 'Yaar, ye thodi hota hai'," he quips.

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