Union Bank of India: Felicitating the silent force

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | October 18, 2011
In its latest ad campaign, the brand tries to connect with India's youth by felicitating the unseen individuals responsible for the success of India's youth icons.

In a bid to refresh the brand's three-year-old promise of 'Your dreams are not yours alone', Union Bank of India (UBI) has recently rolled out a multimedia ad campaign. This brand statement was first introduced in 2008, establishing an instant connect with consumers at the time. This time around, the endeavour is to extend the brand thought and refresh this idea by engaging with India's young audiences, while maintaining its equity with its current customers.

Back in 2008, UBI underwent a re-branding exercise, and put forth the philosophy of how collective power plays a role in individual ambition through some memorable ad films (such as 'Taxi' and 'Daanth') that explored relationships between family members.

Now, the dual challenge for the brand is to balance the new age conversation of 'personal mobility' comprising ambition, growth and success, while staying true to the virtues that UBI has stood for all these years, namely, infallible heritage and solid, stable support. The insight seen in the campaign was born out of this challenge. Crafted by Mudra West, the campaign thus presents a point of view on banking, as well as on life by stating, 'Behind every individual who shines are a few others who work silently in the shadows'.

The creative idea stems from something that is culturally coded in most Indians, that is, a symbiotic existence of individuals and their families. While on the one hand, Indians embrace individualistic ambitions, on the other, they remain steadily anchored in the collectives that help nurture these ambitions. The campaign therefore features the entities that have helped Indian greats realise their dreams including Sachin Tendulkar's brother Ajit Tendulkar, Viswanathan Anand's wife Aruna Anand, and Vijender Singh's brother Manoj Singh.

Explaining how this emotion fits in from the bank's point of view, Arijit Ray, president, Mudra West, says, "From the perspective of UBI, the analogy is perfect as the bank's growth, and its customers' dreams are connected deeply." Ray adds that the objective of the campaign is to find the next level of emotive connect with the proposition rolled out in 2008.

Madhukar Kamath, group chief executive officer and managing director, Mudra Group, says, "Not only does the campaign break the clichéd codes of celebrity usage in advertising, but also seamlessly continues the conversation started by the brand by celebrating the heroes behind our heroes."

Currently, three TVCs are on air. Additionally, the message is visible on outdoor, digital and print channels.

Message received?

For the most part, yes.

Titus Upputuru national creative director, Dentsu Marcom, feels the campaign explores an interesting space in a move to build empathy with the customers.

"I quite like the 'Your dreams are not just yours' space as it's very true to India. In fact, I remember a poster of the movie Swades, a few years ago; it had three guys sitting on the same scooter. The poster talked about all things Indian without saying a word! The thing about India is that people love accommodating. In that sense, this film talks about the fact that we accommodate dreams even," he opines.

Mukesh Anand, partner and senior creative director, R K Swamy BBDO, echoes that he, too, liked the insight that there's a silent force working behind the stars that shine successfully. "But, despite good execution and emotional narration, the films, somehow, do not connect with me at a deeper level," he critiques. Anand finds the ads "far-fetched and convoluted" as they credit one person for the success of the legends portrayed in the films. In his opinion, it would have been more convincing had the campaign featured the stars showering their gratitude and giving credit to the source behind their success.

"Moreover, technically speaking," he continues, "The Viswanathan Anand film is less convincing as it's a well-known fact that he became the first Indian to win the World Junior Chess Championship at the age of 17, and was awarded the Padma Shri at the age of 18, almost 10 years before he got married!"

Anand, however, appreciates the positioning as it works for the brand, but prefers the earlier set of films (the ones that comprised the ad campaign broken in 2008) to these. "They were more evocative, true to life, and therefore, more impactful. The current crop of films is superficial in comparison," says Anand.

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