afaqs!

LIC: Shifting focus from death to life

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | September 24, 2010
The latest ad campaign marks the brand's strategic shift from focussing on the survivor to bringing the policyholder to the forefront

After a lengthy gap of 12 years, LIC, a reassuring presence in the lives of approximately 14 crore policy holders, has launched a new corporate campaign to spread awareness about its products.

The previous corporate communication, which broke around 1999, was the popular campaign that featured a sentimental yet strong character, Mrs. Sharma, who was seen persuading consumers to get insured, by speaking about her late husband, who prudently secured his family's future with the benefits offered by LIC.

The commercial explained the value of risk cover as a vital ingredient in ensuring that life goes on. This campaign was used for years together. Films about new products were launched from time to time, but LIC did not roll out another corporate campaign until now.

The current campaign has been created by JWT, Mumbai. LIC's creative duties lie with a roster comprising JWT, Mudra Communications, DraftFCB Ulka and R K Swamy BBDO.

Prior to 2006, JWT handled the creative duties for the brand. The account moved from JWT in 2006, but was back with the agency in 2009. Currently, Motivator handles the media duties for LIC.

The campaign is a long-term one, aimed at a TG of individuals aged 25 years and above, who need risk cover but haven't insured themselves yet. LIC's brief to the agency was to make the brand recognise the changed context and changed consumers, while re-interpreting the role of life insurance in their lives.

The context in the brand's communication has changed significantly since the 'Mrs. Sharma' commercial, as several private players have entered the insurance arena. Insurance today is extolled more as an investment to realise dreams, than a vital cover for life's risks. Also, a surging economy and rising standards of living have made Indians far more confident about their economic future.

Besides being cognizant of these changed consumer attitudes, the brief was to continue with the overall thought of 'Zindagi Ke Saath Bhi, Zindagi Ke Baad Bhi'. Further, with respect to the campaign idea, two strategic shifts were conceptualized. The first was to see life from the perspective of the potential policyholder, rather than the beneficiary, as was the case all these years. This meant tugging at consumers' heartstrings and reminding them of their responsibility, without sounding preachy. Also, the mandate was to hint at what could be lost, rather than painting a stark picture of tragedy.

The ad film opens in a crowded market, where a child is separated from her father by a throng of revellers. This separation is for a few moments, but the anguish and anxiety of the father and daughter is brought forth in an emotionally charged manner. Brand LIC is then presented as an anxiety alleviator, which helps to fulfil one's responsibility towards loved ones. The film conveys the message with the help of this relatable metaphor. The TVC is meant to supplement the brand's existing schemes.

The creative team on the account comprises vice-president and senior creative director, Debojyoti Purkayastha; vice-president and senior creative director, Vistasp Hodiwala and copywriter, Aayusha Shah.

About the film, Hodiwala says, "We have taken a metaphor from life that works at a simple, small level, rather than focusing on death in all its seriousness. In the film, the emotion of momentary separation has been exaggerated to convey the message of potential separation of a far greater scale."

The media mix for the campaign includes TV, print, radio and digital (Facebook and Youtube). Interestingly, a parallel, TV-led campaign is being run by the brand. It has been around a week since 15-second customer testimonials are being aired on TV, wherein LIC customers from all over the country speak about the policy, in 11 different languages.

Does it move audiences?

Industry experts, from the creative as well as planning fields, agree that the film is well-made; but harbour varying opinions as to its effectiveness.

Ambareesh Chakraborty, principal consultant and creative director, R K Swamy BBDO, finds the effort fine, insightful, touching, and empathetic. "All this, without showing a garlanded photograph!" he exclaims.

"The concept is fresh and touches a chord in this era of serial child-killers. It has taken forward LIC's old brand territory, of a missing breadwinner, differently and memorably. And the verbal reversal at the end brings the message home in no uncertain manner. It is a far cry from earlier, heavy-handed commercials," Chakraborty elaborates.

He adds that the recreation of an Indian bazaar and its colourful chaos, which can quickly become menacing, has been captured well. He also finds that the performances by the actors have been skilfully extracted. "They are touching without being over the top. The little girl's performance and restraint travel straight to the heart. One would have wished for a better soundtrack, but the strong concept and visual treatment will reconnect LIC with its loyalists and attract new customers,' he muses.

Saji Abraham, vice-president, planning, Lowe, says, "Strategically speaking, there are two very broad ways to treat life insurance. First, paint the grim picture; scare people into buying; remind them of what happens if they die suddenly. LIC seems to have chosen this path for a while now. I'm not sure how this does in the marketplace, but it's not something that will make a brand warm and endearing to the consumer. Personally, I find the whole approach morbid and 'guilt marketing' led, where one taps on guilt to sell products."

He goes on to opine that the positives of life insurance, such as "the worry-free life" and reassurance are much more endearing and connecting, but adds that it is more difficult to do interesting advertising around this.

"Specifically for this ad, while the earlier execution was in the same vein; it had a more logical message. While LIC can't replace the emotional bereavement, it can make sure that you do not suffer financially and can fulfil your dreams. This ad, however, has no such connect. The loss of a dear one without a financial implication such as marriage does not sit well, as LIC can't solve for emotional bereavement. So, while the film is well shot and brings out emotions very well; I feel it falls into this logical fallacy, rendering the brand relevance very low," Abraham asserts conclusively.