Benita Chacko
Advertising

“Best strategy while expanding to a particular region is to curate local ad content”: ACKO’s Ashish Mishra

The app-based insurance provider will now be associating with IPL team Sunrisers Hyderabad as its helmet partner. This will be in addition to its existing association with Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals.

ACKO Insurance’s recent ad campaigns for Tamil and Bengali audiences reflect the brand’s focus on curating local ad content for the customers. These are not merely dubbed ads, but have been originally created for these audiences.

In a chat with afaqs!, Ashish Mishra, executive vice president - marketing, ACKO, reveals that a key focus of the brand’s communication strategy includes reaching out to the audiences in a format that's culturally relevant to them.

“Messaging brought to the audiences in a language and context that they can better understand, always works. We believe that we can land a much better proposition if we convey the message to each market in the culturally relevant language. We will have better reception and the people will have a better understanding of the brand. If we get the insight right, we will always have a piece of communication that will resonate far more easily and faster with the audiences.”

Mishra says that the best strategy, while expanding to a particular region or market, is to curate local ad content.

“If the Hindi or English content is relevant for the regional audiences, then that also can be taken. But our strategy is a bit different. We primarily go into the market, try to understand the insight, and then talk about what we can make out of it. Sometimes, budget could be a problem. But if budgets permit, then there should not be any reason for not curating locally.”

ACKO is a completely digital offering, and Chennai is a high-priority market for it due to its high digital adoption. The company is expecting a spillover across other towns in Tamil Nadu.

With the new Bengali campaign, ACKO will be introducing the brand to Kolkata. It has allocated Rs 6-7 crore for the Chennai campaign and Rs 5-10 crore for the Kolkata one, and intends to be one of the top five advertisers in both the cities across all categories. Eighty per cent of the spends will be on television, while 20 per cent will be on the digital medium. ACKO currently does not have plans to create local campaigns for any other region.

“We have received reasonable success with our main national campaigns. For example, our Hindi campaigns have helped us grow in Gujarat, Mumbai and Bengaluru. So, we do not feel the need for bespoke campaigns for these markets,” mentions Mishra.

For ACKO, the advantage with creating local ads, and not merely dubbing them, is that it can get the humour right. “Humour plays a big role in our advertising. With these ads, the audiences feel like it is one of their own brands. Most importantly, locally curated ads don't come across as tone-deaf. Pushing a joke that would probably work with the North Indian audiences, to southern audiences, without paying attention to their cultural settings, can make us appear tone-deaf,” he adds.

The company started communicating with the Tamil audiences last year, with its ‘ACKO Pola Varuma’ campaign. It has also created radio spots in Hyderabadi Hindi with actor Javed Jaffrey and even in Bhojpuri for the Patna market.

“Patna was a big market that we were trying to target. And, we did not want to take a Hindi ad and run it there. For the first time, we have created a Bhojpuri radio spot. We have also created spots in Marathi, Hyderabadi Hindi, Tamil and Kannada. Our core philosophy is to speak the local language,” says Mishra.

As part of its bid to reach out to the regional audiences, ACKO is also partnering with regional OTT and television content. It has integrated with some Tamil shows, like Kalyanam Conditions Apply Season 3, Baakiyalakshmi and Bharathi Kannamma.

“We are very keen to be a part of regional content, because we feel that it is a better way of introducing the brand to new audiences. Associating with national-level properties, like Bigg Boss, Roadies, etc., do help brands, but to make yourself relevant in regional markets, you need to associate with their regional equivalents. ACKO is currently in a phase where we are trying to gain large-scale awareness across the market, introduce ourselves to new audiences, and explain to them what we do,” Mishra mentions.

"Associating with national-level properties, like Bigg Boss, Roadies, etc., do help brands, but to make yourself relevant in regional markets, you need to associate with their regional equivalents. ACKO is currently in a phase where we are trying to gain large-scale awareness across the market, introduce ourselves to new audiences, and explain to them what we do."

In June, ACKO also integrated with The Grade Cricketer, a YouTube cricket show. ACKO’s brand ambassador, cricketer Shubman Gill, featured in an episode.

“The topic of insurance may not be very interesting for most of our consumers. If they are not interested in insurance, we need to be interested in what they are interested in. So, we have picked three pillars, movies, music and sports, to focus our energies on,” adds Mishra.

"The topic of insurance may not be very interesting for most of our consumers. If they are not interested in insurance, we need to be interested in what they are interested in."

ACKO intends to slowly and gradually change people's perception about the category, and its advertising works in this direction. Mishra says that humour will continue to be a big part in all of the company’s advertising.

“People think insurance is difficult and complicated. But, with ACKO, you just have to get on the app and everything will be done in five minutes. We are a digital first app-based insurance provider. Our model is completely different from the traditional players. We're trying to simplify insurance for the larger customer base. While we're trying to do that, our advertising also has to reflect our uniqueness. We're young, quirky and rely on smart wit.”

Delhi Capitals helmet with ACKO branding
Delhi Capitals helmet with ACKO branding

With the Indian Premier League (IPL) resuming next month, ACKO will now be associating with Sunrisers Hyderabad as its helmet partner. This will be in addition to its existing association with Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals. ACKO will be spending around 30-35 per cent of its marketing budget on the IPL.

“We are in the business of protection. We protect the things you love - your phone, car, bike, etc. So, from that angle, when we were looking to sponsor a franchise, we chose the helmet. We strongly believe in the power of IPL. There is no other property in the Indian market as huge and popular that can give us access to such a large-scale audience,” reveals Mishra.

“We are in the business of protection. We protect the things you love - your phone, car, bike, etc. So, from that angle, when we were looking to sponsor a franchise, we chose the helmet."

In terms of its overall media spends, ACKO intends to invest 70-75 per cent of its budget on television and OTT, followed by digital (10 per cent). Ten per cent will be spent on print, outdoors and radio, and five per cent on sponsorships.

“TV continues to be our leading medium, because we are in the process of creating large-scale awareness. In digital, we will be focusing on YouTube and video formats,” Mishra signs off.