Ashwini Gangal

Birla Sun Life Insurance: Tapping the pulse of GenNext

The ad spends are pegged at Rs 7.5 crore.

Birla Sun Life Insurance (BSLI) has come out with a new ad campaign to stimulate conversation around its Children's Future Solutions product offering. The campaign went live on December 15, 2010. The ad spends for this campaign are pegged at Rs 7.5 crore.

Birla Sun Life Insurance: Tapping the pulse of GenNext
Birla Sun Life Insurance: Tapping the pulse of GenNext
The campaign is timed such that it hits TV screens right before the prelim (January-February) and final (March-April) exam season. The aim is to convey the point and occupy the target group's mind space by the time admission season comes around (June-July).

The campaign aims to urge parents to recognise that today, children have a plethora of career options beyond traditional 'safe' jobs (medicine, law, for instance) and that children must be given time to find their real passions. The brand plays the role of a provocateur, highlighting the way the young generation looks at the future. The communication offers a financial solution as well as emotional inspiration to parents and tells them to support their child's tryst with experimentation.

Observations that helped shape the ads include exam pressure, marks-oriented mentality and cases of depression and suicide among children. These observations led to the inference that today, kids don't want just a job; they want to find their calling.

In a conversation with afaqs!, Ajay Kakar, chief marketing officer, financial services, Aditya Birla Group, discusses the category scenario and consumer insights that led to the campaign. "In the 55 year old financial service category, there exist 22 insurance players in the market. Yet, the collective penetration is a mere 15 per cent," he says, adding that the aim was thus to contextualise the role the product can play in the life of the consumer.

"One lot of players talks about what parents want their kids to become, while the other lot talks about letting the kids do what they want to. Here, we're saying that today, the kids don't really know what they want to do unless they explore different options," Kakar explains.

Birla Sun Life Insurance: Tapping the pulse of GenNext
Birla Sun Life Insurance: Tapping the pulse of GenNext
In line with this insight, the two ads show brief, light hearted conversations between a father and his child - one TVC shows a son whilst the other shows a daughter. The conversation brings out how the child found his/her true calling after several failed attempts at various careers. Both ads consciously show happy endings, where the father happily makes peace with his child's way of handling his/her career.

The campaign has been created by JWT. The media agency is Mindshare. The creative team comprises Tista Sen, senior vice-president and executive creative director; Nandita Chalam, vice-president and senior creative director; Shweta Iyer, senior creative director; and Monika Dhoke, senior art director. The production house is Curious Films and the ads have been directed by Vivek Kakkad.

Chalam tells afaqs! that the ads portray something that is happening in every house today. "There is a gap between what parents want and what their children want; we thought we should bring it to the forefront. The ads are meant to assure parents that it's ok to let their children follow their passions." She adds that it will be nice if the campaign sparks a nationwide debate on this topic.

The TV campaign will be followed by an aggressive print campaign that is designed to ask the audience whether they know what their true passion is. Radio branding and on ground activations are also on the cards.

BSLI has also partnered with India's leading education services provider, Career Launcher, to launch the microsite, The site is a comprehensive online platform designed to help parents guide their children in discovering and following a career based on their passion.

Currently, BSLI has invested in a very visible building wrap near the Vile Parle Flyover (Western Express Highway) in Mumbai. The entire building, which is still under construction, is branded and several interesting thought blurbs representing relatable arguments between parents and children are displayed on it.

Does the campaign work?

For the most part, industry experts have taken kindly to the new ads and appreciate BSLI's take on the current social reality.

Birla Sun Life Insurance: Tapping the pulse of GenNext
Birla Sun Life Insurance: Tapping the pulse of GenNext
Emmanuel Upputuru, national creative director, Publicis India, says, "It's a slightly new take on 'you never know what your kids will do in the future, so be prepared starting right now'. We had also tried the 'undecided kid' version of the same for Aviva Life Insurance."

Regarding the creative idea, Upputuru feels that featuring adults is what makes the ads slightly different and interesting.

"There has always been tension between parents and children but for a change, today, parents are more open to different jobs to begin with because there are more options available," he says about the overall change in attitudes.

In Upputuru's opinion, the ads are "nicely shot" and the acting is "not bad."

Govind Pandey, president, McCann Erickson feels that parents who have spent their lives in the world of classical career choices such as medicine, engineering and teaching continue to see these as the safe and respectable career choices. "But," he reasons, "They are beginning to see and acknowledge that the world is changing and that there are young people who have become successful with 'strange' careers."

About the ads, Pandey opines, "The TVCs have an interesting portrayal of the new 'buddy relationship' that parents have with their kids these days." He adds that the films reward parents for being able to support their kids' exploration and experimentation of careers till they find what their true passion is.

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