ICICI Prudential: Playing the 'lifestyle' pitch

By , agencyfaqs! | In | September 16, 2002
ICICI Prudential is selling the concept of retirement planning to young adults by shifting the paradigm from 'security in old age' to 'maintaining a lifestyle'

It's one of those immutable laws of human nature. Young adults pushing middle age do not want to think of themselves as 'growing old'. It's not as if the idea of growing old is, in itself, distasteful - well-adjusted individuals acknowledge the inevitability of aging. But no one really cares to be consciously reminded about it. So a deft snip of the scissors and that one, sly silver hair is banished from sight…

For the same reason, getting people this side of forty to think of retirement isn't easy, as marketers of retirement solutions have realized. After all, retirement is something that happens to people when they're fifty-plus, and who wants to imagine oneself as that old? And the irony is that through advertising, well-intentioned marketers have often portrayed the consumer as gray-haired, 'contented and secure in his or her old age'. Snip, snip goes the young adult mind.

It is in this context that the latest multimedia campaign for ICICI Prudential Life Insurance's retirement solutions (by Lowe, Mumbai) must be viewed and appreciated. For its sheer convenience, let's look at the television commercial for this campaign.

The ad starts with a man, somewhere in his early-thirties, musing as he stares out of a window. 'Main retire nahi hoonga… apne khwabon se. Mere apnon se… unki khushion se.' Shots of the man sharing a fun-soaked moment with his wife and son in an entertainment park. 'Na apni aadaton se… na bahaanon se.' As he shops with his family in a supermarket, he gives a young girl who is passing by a 'once-over', before good-naturedly making up with his annoyed wife. 'Man bahlaane se…' A shot of the man driving a garishly decorated car, crooning wildly as he drives. 'Bas kuchh bhi khareedne se…'

'Main retire nahin hoonga… apni zid se.' He pauses breathlessly during a trek in the woods, but presses on resolutely, brushing aside a friend's offer calling for a break. 'Apni pehchaan se… na jeene se… na zindagi se.'

The sound of a phone ringing jolts the man out of his reverie. He picks up his cellphone and notices it's a call from his office. 'Main retire hoonga toh bas kaam se,' he smiles with a slight shrug, as he prepares to return to work. The voiceover announces: 'Retirement solutions. ICICI Prudential Life Insurance ki ore se. Retirement… sirf kaam se.'

Perhaps the most interesting and differentiated aspect of the ad is the manner in which the protagonist continues to be thirty something, right through his musings. Not one shot of him in an easy chair, clad in 'regulation white'. And in every shot, the man is the archetypal young adult, no apologies proffered. All by design.

But before delving into the mechanics of the campaign, it is pertinent to ask why ICICI Prudential is targeting the young adult with retirement solutions. "We're not just doing a branding task but also doing a category task," says Saugata Gupta, chief of marketing, ICICI Prudential. "We are changing attitudes towards retirement and encouraging people to save for retirement earlier in life."

From the company's point of view, increasing category awareness is a function of expanding the market for retirement solutions. As things stand, Gupta admits that penetration of the concept of retirement solutions is low in India, but adds that the market has huge potential for growth. According to the company, nearly 90 per cent of India's working population does not have any formal provision for old age. "There is an unmet need for retirement planning, and to top it, there is no concept of social security here," Gupta reasons. "Also, life expectancy in India has increased, while at the same time you have lower working tenures which means people could retire earlier. Then there is an increasing dependency ratio, spiraling health-related expenses and cost of living. All this shows a pressing need for retirement planning at an early stage."

All that is fine. But how does one get that perked-up, in-full-throttle young adult to sit down and ponder the more sedate aspects of life? This was the communication challenge facing Lowe. "It's easy to sell retirement solutions to a guy of forty-five or fifty, because retirement is on his mind," says Balki (R. Balakrishnan), executive creative director, Lowe. "But how do you sell retirement to someone who is thirty… when he does not even want to think of retirement?"

The solution came from consumer insights derived from research. The term 'retirement' is associated with loss, in some form or the other. Loss of money, loss of prestige, loss of control, loss of freedom… a general slowing down, so to say. "Like in the concept of insurance, it's all about maintaining a lifestyle, both in the physical and emotional sense," says Balki. "Once you retire, there is a feeling of loneliness, of dependence." On the other hand, young adults do not want to see themselves as old and dependent, and like to believe that life will always be peaches-and-honey.

"We simply took these two aspects and put them in a new context," says Balki. "Without implying anything about growing old, we just said that you retire only from work. We have painted a picture that says with retirement solutions, you don't have to retire from life by giving up the good things you currently enjoy. You just keep living like you've always lived. And it appeals to older consumers as well, as they too don't want to miss out on current joys."

'Living like you've always lived.' That explains the ad in terms of its execution, where everything is about life as the protagonist is living it today - and not as an old man - even though the argument is about the future. "All we are saying is, think of your present as your future, which is in keeping with ICICI's strategy," points out Balki. "If you look at the 'sindoor' campaign for insurance, you will see that the sindoor is symbolic of security - the husband always being there. It's about promising the present for the future." © 2002 agencyfaqs!

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