Ashwini Gangal

Tata Mutual Fund: Piggy banks are passé; enter SIP

Tata Mutual Fund launches a new ad campaign to propagate its Systematic Investment Plan (SIP) with the catch phrase 'Tata SIP- Investment Ka Pehla Kadam'

Tata Mutual Fund has broken a new ad campaign around a fortnight ago. The communication, occurring after a gap of about two-three years, aims to make Tata SIP the first thought for regular investment. The previous campaign, that wasn't exposed much and didn't run for too long, played on the concept of an 'SIP (Systematic Investment Plan) meter'. The present campaign is a long term one and is slated to run for about four-six months.

Addressing the objective of the campaign, Dharmendra Satapathy, head, marketing, Tata Asset Management, informs, "We want to popularise not just the brand but also the mutual fund category. So, in a sense, it is a 'social effort'." He adds that the prerogative is to make SIP a common denominator, just like an FMCG product, such that the lay consumer watches the ad film and seeks education about the category. Enlightening the lay person about the category and the jargon related to it is a complementary aim.

Tata Mutual Fund: Piggy banks are passé; enter SIP
Satapathy adds, "Our target group (TG) is the 25-45 year old male, belonging to SEC AB+ but the TG may as well be all educated people out there." He says that within five years, even SEC C is bound to get included in the TG for the brand and for the category at large. In his opinion, this segment is underpenetrated and the campaign will serve to bring about some much desired financial inclusiveness. He quotes this as the reason the ad film promotes the brand as the most obvious thing that people are missing out on.

The creative duties for the account are with Quadrant Communications, headed by Rajan Narayan, president and chief executive officer. The creative team comprises Viren Kamdar, national creative director; Bonani Karmakar, creative group head (art); and Sourav Roy, creative group head (copy). The film has been directed by Pervez Ahmed and the production house is Ourja Films.

The ad film is set around a child's birthday party. It opens on a father gifting a piggy bank to his son on the occasion. The son is disappointed with this gift and professes that if the aim is to save money, then investing in Tata SIP is a much better option. When the father displays ignorance regarding this option, the child's friends mock him. Product details are then revealed through the child's dialogues.

The insight used in the commercial is the belief harboured by most parents that the habit of saving regularly is inculcated in a child through a piggy bank. The brand proposition is 'Bachcha bachcha jaanta hai ki Tata SIP hai investment ka pehla kadam'.

Tata Mutual Fund: Piggy banks are passé; enter SIP
Addressing the issue of the child being the knowledge-laden protagonist, Kamdar offers, "We've used the notion of how kids today give 'gyaan' to adults and tell them to move with the times. This is true for gadgets, technology and the Internet; we have extended it in an exaggerated form to mutual funds. We have used children to shake their parents out of their outdated notions about saving and draw their attention to Tata SIP."

The creative brief was to build category awareness amongst the lay person, presumably unfamiliar with this investment option. "Most people lack awareness about SIP. To popularise it, we have twisted reality and made this a very 'evident truth to miss' kind of gimmick."

Tangentially, Kamdar adds that the mutual fund category has been gaining momentum in the ad space of late and rates its competitiveness at 7-8 on a 10 point scale. "In the midst of this competition, the USP of the Tata brand is the trust it inspires in consumers," he says.

Positioning a product as something one absolutely ought to be familiar with and playing on brand ignorance/category ignorance in an ad campaign is an oft-seen advertising cliché. The most common manner of executing this is to create a character in the ad film, who is mocked or reprimanded in some way for not knowing about the brand and yet another character - a knowledgeable 'expert' - who educates this person about the brand.

Brands that have used this strategy in the past include Orient's PSPO (recall the 'PSPO nahin jaante!' commercial) and Perfetti Van Melle's Chlormint (recall the humorous Dobara mat poochna TVC). Nirma Shudh Namak had also used a similar tactic a few years ago with its 'Bacche bhi jaante hai iske saare gunn' commercial, in which a child was seen enumerating the purity related benefits of the product to an apparently ignorant adult - a shopkeeper.

When confronted with this, Kamdar agrees that the idea is not a new one but reasons nonetheless, "It is very novel in the finance category. Also, using a child in the mutual fund category is a new idea too - ads in this category mostly convey the brand message through characters such as graduates and businessmen."

The ad film shows a child educating an adult about an area that children that age are oblivious about. Satapathy explains, "The commercial is deliberately disruptive as it is aimed at startling viewers. The act of a kid giving an older person advice is not improbable; agreed that the content - that is, finance advice - is improbable. However, this is a deliberate exaggeration that is necessary for effective advertising."

He adds that another reason for using a child as the main character is to generate an association between the brand and modernity. "We want to position the brand as a modern style of investing and this goal is achieved by showing that the next generation is aware of it and is telling their elders about it," he explains.

The campaign is primarily TV-led; it has only one main TVC - the 40 second version, which has been rolled out. Edited versions of the same (one 30 second and another 20 second version) are scheduled to follow shortly. Besides TV, print communication and BTL (below-the-line) activities are also on the cards.

Does the creativity work?

Industry experts give a 'thumbs down' to this campaign.

Tata Mutual Fund: Piggy banks are passé; enter SIP
Tata Mutual Fund: Piggy banks are passé; enter SIP
Gautam Pandit, partner and senior creative director, RK Swamy BBDO is of the opinion that the ad suffers from 'classic role reversal' as instead of the father educating the child about the investment plan, the ad shows the child telling the father how to invest money.

"A message about a serious topic such as insurance would be more relevant and convincing if a senior person spoke about it. Due to this role reversal, consumers may not feel 'this is for me'. It is hard to accept a kid using finance terminology such as SIP; the exaggeration is hard to believe," he says.

On an ethical stand point, Pandit adds that the gesture of the kids mocking the father is a "complete no-no" as it is insulting and disrespectful towards the older generation.

Senthil Kumar, executive creative director, JWT India, comments on the tried and tested creative formula used in the commercial. "I hate formulas. I believe that the audience out there wants you to surprise, engage and connect with them at every touch point. They don't have time for the same old formula in a new form," he says.

He adds that usually cute kids help endear adult audiences if one plugs in emotion, humour, a deep human insight or any real hook that will engage and hold attention beyond 30 seconds. "This one, though, lacks a good right hook to connect with the investor out there," he says.

Kumar concludes that he is not sure if the tactic of using the child as a spokesperson of financial investments will really work in the market. He asserts, "How many parents like it when their teeny boppers start teaching them stuff? Kids know more but will any child put his father down in front of his friends?"

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