Ashwini Gangal

India and Japan merge seamlessly in LIC Nomura's launch campaign

In a film titled 'Seamless', LIC Nomura creates an Indo-Japanese cultural mosaic.

Crafted by R K Swamy BBDO, the recently-released launch campaign for LIC Nomura is a blend of Indian and Japanese cultural tones.

The main objective of the campaign is to demonstrate the seamless merger of two partners, each with an equally rich lineage -- LIC Mutual Fund and Nomura Asset Management.

India and Japan merge seamlessly in LIC Nomura's launch campaign
The agency has created a 60-second long montage film, titled 'Seamless', that attempts to merge aspects of Indian and Japanese cultures, right from cuisines to Origami.

It features Indian and Japanese dance forms -- a Japanese Kabuki dancer dancing with classical Indian Kathakali dancers. It has blended other cultural symbols as well, such as Japanese women in Kimonos drawing Rangoli and a Japanese Samurai fighter practising Indian martial arts in Rajasthan.

Additionally, other commonalities between the two cultures have also been shown -- such as the belief in astrology and palmistry. Towards the end of the TVC, a male VO (voiceover) says 'From the fusion of two great cultures, comes the promise of prosperity.'

The video was shot in India, and in Japan (just before the tragic tsunami). While the overseas shoot took three days, its preparation took over a month. In Japan, the ad was shot across places such as Kamakura (in 1,500-year-old temples in the region) and Tokyo (at places such as Shinjuku and the Tokyo subway). In India, the ad was shot across ancient temples in Maharashtra, havelis in Rajasthan, dhabas on the highway in North India, and at some places in Pune.

The creative credit goes to executive director (copy and art), Sangeetha N, and partner and creative director (copy and art), Gautam Pandit. The film has been directed by Vikash Nowlakha and the production house is Future East. Post-production work has been done at Pixion. Music composers Salim-Sulaiman have worked on the background score, and singers Shweta and Shradha Pandit have lent their voices for the ad.

"As in the film, the attempt to fuse both Indian and Japanese cultures has been made in the music of this commercial, too," informs Sangeetha.

The media agency on the account is Media Direction, part of the R K Swamy Media Group.

Speaking about the communication strategy, Sangeetha tells afaqs! that the campaign is a portrayal of the core proposition of both LIC and Nomura, namely, trust. "Trust, reliability and transparency are some of the key similarities both companies share, so the whole point of the communication was to bring out this trust aspect which was the basis of both these companies coming together in the first place," she explains.

The media mix is a 360-degree effort, complete with innovations across television, print, OOH and digital channels. Like the TVC, the LIC Nomura billboards and print ads also aim to show a mixture of Indian and Japanese cultures -- for instance, the one where a classical Indian Odissi dancer is shown doing the Japanese umbrella dance.

Is the fusion successful?

Though certain aspects of the campaign have managed to appeal to industry professionals, for the most part, the film has elicited lukewarm responses.

India and Japan merge seamlessly in LIC Nomura's launch campaign
Anirban Chaudhuri, senior vice-president, strategic planning, Dentsu Communications, is of the opinion that the TVC could have been thought through better. He explains, "The TVC is more of an AV (audio-visual) that I would have expected running at the press conference when the two companies signed their contract -- an AV usually developed to match the bonhomie between the officials from two countries at such meets."

Regarding the insights and planning, Chaudhuri questions aloud, "But, what does it say about the consumer's need? What is the big news for the consumers? What should be the key reason for him to consider a new mutual fund player? The TVC has no answer for these questions."

He agrees that that there is no doubt that the campaign tries to showcase two great cultures. "But, how does the coming together of two such cultures guarantee the promise of prosperity?" Chaudhuri wants to know. He feels there has been no attempt to look for any relevant insight regarding the financial behaviour of Indian consumers.

Regarding the execution and the imagery used in the film, Chaudhuri feels the use of oriental symbols are in some cases misleading for the lay Indian, and that some of them can actually make viewers believe that this is about a culture that is far-eastern or oriental, but not necessarily Japanese. "Statistics show that Japan is not one of most-visited countries by Indian tourists, yet! So, I doubt if common Indians would be able to decode all the societal codes shown in the advertisement," he asserts.

India and Japan merge seamlessly in LIC Nomura's launch campaign
Nilesh Vaidya, executive creative director, Network Advertising, says, "The 'fusion of two cultures' bit has been done often in the past, and more memorably at that." He recalls the 'Get ready for India' campaign by GMR, in this regard. "I loved that campaign; it showed foreigners doing 'really Indian things' such as learning cricket, or eating spicy food, because they would have to come to India sooner or later," says Vaidya.

He opines that in comparison, the LIC Nomura film is a little too straight. "Maybe, a more insightful idea could have come by demonstrating how the values of these two cultures have come together, not just their visual symbols," Vaidya elaborates.

He, however, adds that he had no problem identifying the imagery as Japanese, and found the production quality impeccable. Further, praising the music, Vaidya concludes, "Overall, I'd rate the campaign high on execution, but pretty average on the idea front."

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