We spoke to Jayant Desai about his brand's first TV outing in this market.
PayPal, the US-headquartered digital payments company, has recently rolled out its first full-fledged brand campaign to announce its Indian footprint. The company took quite a bold step by making the move to enter an intensely competitive market that's already populated by strong homegrown brands like Paytm and global giants like Google's Tez.
But, what makes it the right time for the brand to tell their PayPal story in India? We ask Jayant Desai, head of marketing, PayPal India, who responds, "The domestic business was launched on 8 November 2017; somehow, it marked the day of the historic move of Demonetisation, (coincidence or clever marketing we can only wonder). In April, we announced general availability (GA) which allows any merchant, who wants to come to our platform, could do so. Since then, the team has been working to get the whole machinery up and running and, therefore, we felt the time is ripe..."
Has there been too much light shed on the 'Safe hai' aspect?
"PayPal, as a domestic offering, is new to Indian consumers. In order to establish the brand, we wanted to position it as a safer and easier way to pay and hence the catchphrase 'Safe hai'. The phrase is underpinned by PayPal's value proposition in terms of buyer and seller protection," Desai states.
If we take a look at the online payment market space, the ecosystem in India has been increasingly flooded with cashbacks, best deals and used cases. In such a scenario, are Indians ready to prioritise the 'safe and secure' narrative offered by this American player?
"The consumer research work that we conducted indicated that safety and security are the primary needs while making online transactions. We felt that that's what differentiates us from the crowd and the frenzy of cashbacks," Desai explains.
He views the government's demonetisation move as a carpe diem moment for the entire payment industry.
However, he also maintains that India is still largely a cash market. 85-90 per cent of personal consumption expenditure that Indian consumers make is still in cash. "So, the idea to drag digital payments into India has been a big interaction point across borders," Desai shares.
When asked about the execution, Desai specifies that the TG for the campaign is the global Indian and this is how the brand chose to unlock the potential of this market. "They are basically English-speaking, affluent, tech-savvy, online users, who travel, and are likely to have a credit card. Now, considering and keeping this audience in context, we chose the cast and characters in our communication. So the creative tension plays around something that PayPal is about (an American brand venturing into the Indian market). It's about creating that global-local creative tension and also between the old and the new...," shares Desai adding the brand's claim as the original creator of digital payments.
Desai further elaborates that when it comes to the subject matter of security, there are two paths - one is to create alarm and the other is to create the consumer's confidence. "We opted for the latter. 'PayPal has your back, no matter what' is what we attempted to convey through the campaign," he signs off.
Rajit Kapur was a quick choice made by Shoojit Sircar, the campaign director. From a creative execution point of view, it appears quite an oversimplified version where the man of the house is portrayed as an old-world father (Rajit Kapur) yet to embrace the digital mode of payment. Given the fact that acceptance of such a payment ecosystem is undoubtedly complex in India, with its lower levels of financial as well as digital literacy, we are forced to wonder if the brand fully focuses on converting people who are yet to come online.
Sumanto Chattopadhyay (chairman and CCO at the agency), who has worked on this campaign, says, "We're portraying a family in which the mother and daughter are quite progressive, in terms of comfort levels, with online purchases and payments. The father, however, is cautious about online payments."
Chattopadhyay doesn't feel this is an over-simplification at all. "It stems from the fact that there have been many instances of credit cards and other instruments of online payment, being hacked. I myself have been a victim of this," he explains.
"When I realised that PayPal has a truly impregnable back-end and it doesn't even reveal your credit card details to the merchant - I felt secure about using it. That's the insight we built the Rajit Kapur character on," he shares.
On being quizzed whether he is positioning an international wedding as the big usage occasion, Chattopadhyay responds, "An Indian-American wedding gave us the opportunity to talk about how PayPal can be used to pay for online purchases both locally and across borders. It also aptly mirrored the journey of this global payments giant which began in the US and is now in India. And yes, weddings are a huge occasion for all kinds of purchases for which PayPal may be used. "
Internationally, PayPal has built its market and reputation on the basis of the unparalleled security it provides for online payments. The brief was to highlight that this ultra-secure online payment method is now available in India too.
Considering PayPal is talking to an older TG, 'Safe hai' ticks a couple of boxes when it comes to the overall feel-good factor.
Despite taking the beaten track of typical family gatherings, before and after a wedding celebration etc., there is still a warm feeling that the films evoke, feels Kishore Karumbaiah, chief creative officer and partner, Langoor.
"The credit surely goes to the actors, both the newbies and the veterans," says Karumbaiah.
Nonetheless, when it comes to effectiveness, for those wary of online shopping, the casual tone of the film will not cut it. "People are not going to buy into 'Safe hai' just because of this campaign. Hopefully, they have planned a full-blown digital/ social campaign to support the TVCs. Because in today's strongly opinionated world, every big claim a brand makes will be scrutinised and questioned. So, how safe is 'Safe hai'? Only time will tell," Karumbaiah further adds.
PayPal, through its first Indian campaign, created by Bates (agency), is trying to bring the domestic and cross-border story alive with an overarching thought of 'Safe hai'.
Gopa Kumar, EVP, Isobar, says, "This is a common hurdle which many consumers still face in India; hence, the effort to make the consumer feel more confident about their transaction. The series of videos and smaller edits drive home the fact of the safety and ease of use functionality of PayPal. The film is simple, nicely shot, with believable character, and drives home the objective clearly."
The challenge PayPal faces here in India is that it's an already cluttered market dominated by the likes of Paytm and Google Tez; how it stands out and becomes relevant to consumers will depend on the width of acceptance of the platform from both merchants and consumers.
However, Kumar maintains, "With respect to India, this takes time because of varied factors like finance, literacy, language etc. It is a good start for a brand; I would like to see how they are able to sustain and keep on educating the consumers over time."
Marketing and Advertising Agency: Bates
Production House: Rising Sun Films Pvt Ltd
Media Buying Agency: Mediacom