Bank of India: Relationship building with 'Middle India' once again

By Devina Joshi , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | May 20, 2011
In a service-specific campaign for Bank of India, Ogilvy has created commercials to cater to middle-class India.

Bank of India has revolved its communication around 'relationships' that go beyond banking, having chanced upon the tagline 'Rishton ki jamapoonji' around five years ago.

On the back of last year's thematic campaign, 'Rishte kai tarah ke hote hain', Bank of India is out with a series of ad films this year that are more service-specific in nature.

A four-ad campaign -- three of which are on air -- has been released. All the ads have middle-class settings, and showcase slice-of-life insights that are typical to 'Middle India'.

The three films currently on air highlight car loan, SME loan and home loan offerings of the bank.

Another film on 'education loan' is underway.

For small town India

"We have tried to link the real stories that happen in such small town homes to the bank's service offerings to make the advertising more relatable," says Sumanto Chattopadhyay, executive creative director, Ogilvy India (the agency on the account). And hence, executions like the 'Do Duni Chaar' setting, with the plump father and hassled mother in the car loan ad, or the Kolkata old-architecture setting for the home loan film.

"The aim is to get families to look at such services by having the brand empathise with such real life situations and problems that Middle India faces," Chattopadhyay adds, bearing in mind that Bank of India 'understands the many sides of relationships'. The attempt here is to focus on the 'need' for the solution more than the solution itself, by taking 'a page out of someone's life' in the commercials.

Rakesh Sethi, general manager, retail banking and marketing, Bank of India, says, "Our earlier campaign was more about telling the customer we understand him. This one takes it further by showing exactly which needs of theirs require to be addressed."

The creative team at Ogilvy that has worked on the campaign includes Abhijit Avasthi, Sumanto Chattopadhyay, Louella Rebello, Mayur Varma and Karn Singh. The films have been directed by Shivendra Singh Dungarpur of Dungarpur Films.

A strong enough 'relationship'?

The campaign has been largely well-received by the industry.

Naresh Gupta, national head, planning, Cheil Worldwide, says, "The broad insights are right in all the ads, of wanting to go on your own, and moments of shame for owning less than a desirable vehicle." However, he adds that the use of the insights could have been better, and anger and frustration are emotions that could have been clearly avoided.

"The use of such insights will not work in small town India, too, as frustration and anger are even less dominant in smaller towns. I would have preferred a more measured Rocket Singh kind of tonality, which is about confidence in ability, but not cocky in attitude," he adds.

On the execution front, Gupta feels that the portrayals are "clichéd and old world." Why should the wife look down upon her husband just because he has a scooter, for instance, he asks. "If the brand is about celebrating relationships and having a very valued equation with its audience, then there is no celebration of relationships here," Gupta muses.

Santosh Padhi, co-founder and chief creative officer, Taproot India, feels that most brands in the category show the problem rather than the solution, which is alright, but the execution should be engaging. "I feel once you show the solution which is far closer to the offering, it will make a far tighter connect in terms of the brand message," he says.

Paddy "loves the Car Loan" ad for the sheer way in which the story unfolds and consumer behaviour elements such as the penny pinching father, who talks of 'collecting the money' from his family if they are late for the movie, are bang on. "The look and feel will appeal to the right set of audiences, that is the middle class segment," he adds.

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