Aishwarya Ramesh

Ed-tech brand Vedantu "guarantees" better marks in latest ad; "We're nervous and excited about this promise": Kunal Dubey

It's part of the platform's 'Vedantu Improvement Promise'. We chat with the brand's marketing head about this daring move.

Vedantu’s latest ads featuring Aamir Khan, ask parents if students alone are solely responsible for the marks they score. The 20 second long ads are for a program on Vedantu’s platform called the Vedantu Improvement Promise (VIP) which claims to assure predictable learning improvement for students from their previous year’s exam results and JEE-Main/NEET-UG rank.

According to a press release, students will be assessed across six proficiency levels based on a globally accredited benchmark test to accomplish this goal. Their progress will be tracked regularly by Vedantu through periodic evaluations and shared so that parents are assured of their child's progress.

The ad film series is conceptualized by Tilt Brand Solutions and their in-house production, StudioT. The campaign will be spread across all platforms such as digital, social media platforms, OTT’s, and television.

Kunal Dubey, head of marketing at Vedantu points out that there is a difference between a claim and a promise – and that the latter is what it is referred to, internally. “The word ‘claim’ feels more transactional. For any big promise to work, there needs to be intent to make it work and a system to support the exeuction”

Dubey explains that the campaign began with a problem statement and their desire to solve for it. Inherently, as a company, we believe that progress is a child’s right but not everyone takes complete ownership and accountability for the child’s progress.

“We believe every kid is unique but they need the right systems to support their learning. Education is like co-parenting in that sense,” he says. At Vedantu, Dubey tells us that the team pays close attention to the levels of learning that are happening among individual children.

The company has a ‘Learning Outcomes’ team which tracks the level of their child’s learning, the subject matter understanding, aptitutde etc. With the help of benchmarking tests, the team tries to understand where the kid is subject wise, aptitude wise, etc to gauge what attention he needs.

"We understand that learning happens through engagement-based teaching and we work with every kid to ensure they do better."
Kunal Dubey, Vedantu

“We understand that learning happens through engagement-based teaching and we work with every kid to try and ensure they do better. If you look at the challenge, all we’re asking is that the students show 75 per cent attendance.”

He adds that this campaign is them trying to put their money where their mouth is.

"While we have faith in our systems to deliver, we’re still nervous because you’ll only know the results of this challenge next year. We’re both excited and nervous about this."
Kunal Dubey

“Honestly, we were quite nervous when we first thought about this. There are a lot of implications for us because we’ll be taking on a responsibility when we make a promise like this one. There is this fear of letting the community down – the parents and the children’s community. While we have faith in our systems to deliver, we’re still nervous because you’ll only know the results of this challenge next year, and the parents and kids will be putting their trust in us until then. We’re both excited and nervous about this.”

Dubey tells us that visual content engages with the kids and helps them understand concepts better. If the kids don’t understand a particular concept in a way, the team tries different methods of making them understand and learn.

Ed-tech brand Vedantu "guarantees" better marks in latest ad; "We're nervous and excited about this promise": Kunal Dubey

“We have checkpoints at every class – we can see which students answered the question correctly, how fast they answered it, and so on. If a student hasn’t answered a question in a while, they get a real time nudge asking them to participate in the class.”

Every marketer has his own style of writing creative briefs and making a canvas for the creative partners, and Dubey tells us he chose to keep it simple and focus on the main reason they were doing this campaign in the first place.

“Accountability is the need of the hour. Improvement or progress is the system’s responsibility as much as it is the child’s responsibility. We feel that if the child isn’t making progress, the least we can do is return the fees.”

Dubey informs us that the program has been live on the platform for the past few months and that they are just taking it to the masses now via advertising. He adds that they also had to account for constraints such as the lockdowns and restrictions on shooting and that’s why they took an informal ‘vlog-like’ approach to the visual language of the ads.

“We had to keep the narrative simple as well as add a layer of fun. Our community follows influencers online closely and we thought that if it is a home shoot, then filters (similar to the ones that influencers have fun with on Instagram and Snapchat) would make the communication more relatable.”

In the past, tuition classes and coaching classes have always promised to help students score better marks. “We’re not guaranteeing a specific rank or a seat in a college or a particular percentage – that constitutes a different rat race altogether which often creates a world for few. Wherever the child is right now, we’re guaranteeing that you’ll see a gradual improvement in their performance basis whatever the child’s potential is. We want to be an inclusive brand and we want to help students make improvements and progress overall.”

Dubey informs us that the VIP challenge will be a part of Vedantu’s DNA going forward. He says that for the company, they will consider it a success when the edtech industry starts adopting child-first practices like this one, going forward.

Back in 2014, Vedantu was among the first players to offer live classes online, but in the context of 2020, the coronavirus spreading and lockdowns in various states – there have been many new entrants in this sector.

"2020 was a blessing."
Kunal Dubey, Vedantu

The competition has become very fierce in edtech sector given the prevalence of online classes at every level of education, but Dubey calls the last year a ‘blessing’ as opposed to a challenge.

“Almost everyone stopped spending money on advertising in 2020. The rate at which you could bid for audiences online, became so much cheaper. What you could do for say, ten rupees, you could now achieve for two rupees. At this time, the supply was greater than the demand for ad space.”

He adds that the company’s biggest challenge was students becoming disengaged with online classes. “We do yoga sessions and hold masterclasses with celebrities like Deepika Padukone, who spoke about mental wellness to engage with students outside the curriculum.”

Expert Opinion

Pearl Vas, vice president – planning, Taproot Dentsu, opines that breaking through the clutter and arresting attention from the get go, seem to be something Tilt and Vedantu have put active intent and effort behind.

“To their credit, they’ve achieved it. You already have a big celebrity in Aamir Khan. You ensure he launches with a provocative question. And then, you push it further with the creative device of him vlogging.”

Pearl Vas
Pearl Vas

“The slight distortion of the actor’s face (among other things) actually works in keeping you engaged, while the message is getting delivered. Either way, it fits that Vedantu – a big player in the contemporary category of edtech, would leverage the contemporary culture of vlogging.”

In the past, it was mainly tuition and coaching classes, which claimed to guarantee that students will score good marks, or get a seat in a particular esteemed college. Vas points out that Vedantu is speaking with the parents and students open to edtech and, with the Vedantu Improvement Promise, it is putting its money where its mouth is. Literally.

“Now, we can debate whether such a transactional promise fits within the virtuous world of education. But it is certainly effective. Especially when the promise is not coming from an unknown brand, but one that is already a frontrunner.”

“People (not just parents) may not like to admit out loud, how effective a ‘money back guarantee’ is. But you’d certainly have to think a bit to identify a more powerful persuader.”

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