Airtel pushes Payments Bank in new campaign

By Sunit Roy , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | February 03, 2017
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Taproot Dentsu has worked on the campaign.

The Central Government's demonetisation drive, and the subsequent cash crunch, has led to a new dawn of digital transactions in India. It brought a sea change in the way sellers and buyers (from small retail stores to modern day malls) transact. According to government data, the number of daily transactions through e-wallet services such as Oxigen, Paytm and MobiKwik grew manifold, while transactions through RuPay cards (e-commerce and point-of-sale) were up by 300 per cent until December last year.

As India braced for the digital payments' future, Airtel launched a payments bank service in November last year - Airtel Payments Bank, a subsidiary of Bharti Enterprises that started as a pilot project in Rajasthan.

Now the brand has launched a 360-degree campaign to showcase its differentiated and convenient digital banking offerings. It is based on the theme 'Bank Hai Par Alag Hai', and highlights Airtel Payments Bank's unique banking model that leverages the vast network of neighbourhood Airtel retail outlets, which take convenient digital banking closer to the customer.

Conceptualised and created by Taproot-Dentsu, the campaign identifies stress points that customers normally have in a routine banking experience and juxtaposes them against the very apparent solution that Airtel Payments Bank provides. The campaign comprises of three TVCs, launched on February 1 during the India-England T20 match. It will further be extended on radio, OOH, and digital platforms.

Shashi Arora

Agnello Dias

Speaking about the initiative, Shashi Arora, MD & CEO, Airtel Payments Bank, India, says, "Airtel Payments Bank aims to take banking closer to every Indian. Our simple and convenient banking model that leverages Airtel's vast retail network will add a new dimension to the way India banks and contribute to financial inclusion in the country."

The films have been directed by Nitin Parmar and produced by Equinox Films. "We simply looked at it as the launch of a new category - Payments bank - which is everything that a bank does, but differently. The experience was intriguing from a technical point of view as the protagonist and his environment are operating at two completely different narrative speeds and each scene literally had to be shot thrice to get the result," says Agnello Dias, director, Taproot-Dentsu.

Dias adds, "In this category, the correlation between communication on-air and results on ground is far more direct, immediate and pointed because most of the time, what is being advertised does not exist before the campaign. Also, consumers are looking for simple and efficient modes of banking and the thought behind the campaign was to look at the proposition from a common man's perspective and his expectations from a bank. Therefore, we have chosen an approach that is frank and engaging."

According to an official source from Airtel, since the myAirtel app is a carrier agnostic app, the Airtel Payments Bank services are also carrier agnostic, making it possible for users of any mobile service provider to access the banking services. The user will have to visit any of the designated banking points for completing the eKYC formalities to activate the account.

"Users just need to update their existing myAirtel app and access the Airtel Payments Bank section from a new tab (that can be seen on the right side). Also, whether the user is an Airtel mobile customer or non-Airtel customer, his 10-digit mobile number will remain as the account number of the user," the source says.

Expert Speak

Interestingly, persuading a consumer pool to download an app is a massive task. People are so protected about the space on their phone that they just don't want to download any app unless it makes their life easier. Also, the rate at which apps are uninstalled is very high.

So afaqs! asked the experts if this campaign would succeed in persuading consumers to download it, and if the branding would help overcome these barriers?

Pooja Rawat

Suman Srivastava

According to Pooja Rawat, vice-president (planning), Lowe Lintas, Mumbai, this is certainly a new concept of banking that Airtel has introduced in the country. "It seems like a convenient form of banking, at least for basic banking needs. But the uniqueness seems to be over-powered by the heavy comparisons with a bank, which takes up a good part of the films. And I wonder if, in fact, there is a need to highlight the frustrations of banking, which don't seem relevant to the urban population and to those using internet banking and payment apps. For example, most people in cities, and even tier II cities, go to an ATM to withdraw money and make money transfers online, and not stand in a queue at the bank for the same. I think that for launching and creating awareness of this new system, ads that highlight and focus on the uniqueness of this system itself might have been equally powerful and relevant, if not more," Rawat says.

"As far as downloading the app is concerned, I don't think the focus of these films is on getting users to download the app. These ads are about creating initial awareness and if people are intrigued by this system or find the story relevant, they might download the app," she adds.

Suman Srivastava, founder and innovation artist, Marketing Unplugged, says, "This is not an app, this is the launch of a new bank from Airtel - The Airtel Payment Bank. This is not a wallet and does not compete with Paytm and other wallets, although Paytm will launch its payment bank soon too. The focus of the ad is to create dissonance with existing offline banking services and suggest that the Airtel Payment Bank is easier, more convenient and offers a higher interest rate. I believe that payment banks are going to create a revolution in Indian banking, and this is the start of a new marketing war. There are 11 entities that have got licenses to start payment banks. Airtel has a first mover advantage, but this is going to be a long war and there are many battles that lie ahead."

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