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Max New York Life: On a wish and a prayer

By , agencyfaqs! | In | December 09, 2002
The new commercial for life insurance major Max New York Life attempts to portray the brand as facilitator that helps people's wishes come true


The ad doesn't sell insurance. To put it correctly, the ad doesn't sell insurance policies. It doesn't even sell the concept of security and all that. It just attempts to reach out to the consumer and make an emotional connect somewhere deep down inside.

The ad in question is the one for life insurance major, Max New York Life (MNYL), and this is how it goes. The commercial is all about people in prayer. So you have a man devoutly tying a dhaaga (the sacred thread) in a dargaah; a woman doing a 'pheraa' around a banyan tree; another in deep meditation, rosary in hand; a group of women setting lit diyaas afloat on a river… The voiceover (actor Roshan Seth) talks about how life is all about small wishes and how Max New York helps in making wishes come true. The ad ends with the line, 'What is your wish?'

"The brief was both realistic and simple," says Swapan Seth, co-CEO & chief creative officer, Equus Red Cell, which handles the MNYL account. "It was not to sell insurance policies - because MNYL is of the view that insurance can never be sold. It has to be bought. The brief was to build a great connect with India, build likeability and create a platform for our agent advisors to be favourably disposed towards our end consumers."

And to create a connect, the agency-client team figured 'wish-making' would be as good a bet as any. "All the players are attempting to move the category from the hangover of 'tax saving' towards the 'securing of the future'," Seth explains. "In the final analysis, security - any form of security, across population strata - is about wish-making. This simple thought was the anchor of the communication. We wished to be a shorthand for simple, everyday wishes." It helped that the ad was addressing a population that has traditionally attached a lot of importance to wish-making, and understands the nuances and the symbolism involved. "In India, specifically, wishing has large cultural and religious expressions, right from the dhaaga at Ajmer to a temple bell," says Seth. "We are a nation of 'mannats' and 'upvaas', which have simple wishes as their navigator."

Rationalizing the campaign idea, Seth says, "The ad is not saying that Max New York is the answer to people's wishes. It only says that we merely help wishes come true. Great brands are always facilitators, and our agent advisors are facilitators as well. It seemed 'helping answer prayers' was a wonderful thing to own."

The ad - directed by filmmaker Priyadarshan for MAD Films - has a very fresh, feel-good quality about it, with rich and vibrant tones. However, the highpoint of the film is Roshan Seth's voiceover. "We needed a voice that had seen life," Seth explains why they got Roshan Seth. "A voice that was unheard of in more recent times, one that had gravity and magnanimity in it. One that was like MNYL - an international India. The compass pointed squarely at Roshan, and we are humbled that he did it for us."

Given the socio-religious context of wish-making, it's but natural that the film depicts religion in practice. But Seth admits that it is also an opportune moment to dwell on religion. "In the ad, religion is significant because wish-making is linked diagonally to religion. It is also a wonderful time to talk about religion, given the state of the nation. Optimism and hope are brand values that are worth appropriating in such times." © 2002 agencyfaqs!

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