Shreyas Kulkarni

HDFC ERGO Health goes bad news, good news on health insurance

The word 'health' has negative connotations linked to it, universally. Just saying 'health' conjures up images of body pain, tiring doctor visits, and expensive hospital bills for most people. Naturally then, it is not surprising that most families associate health insurance with the same negative image. They should not. Health insurance simply intends to act as a financial shield for health emergencies when they're least prepared for it.

Keeping this thought in mind, HDFC ERGO Health has released a new campaign titled 'Bad news – Good news' that revolves around health emergencies, the thoughts which run through the affected person's mind, and blends it in with news of an acquisition as well.

Executed by Mullen Lintas, the campaign illustrates the lives of people affected by health emergencies - which is the bad news. It then tells you that HDFC has acquired Apollo Munich Health Insurance and is now HDFC ERGO Health which offers you the double benefit of Apollo Munich's expertise and HDFC's trust. This is the good news.

For the campaign, HDFC ERGO Health roped in Bollywood actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui. The actor essays dual roles - that of a sensation-mongering journalist who thrives off bad news and a calm and factual journalist who believes in good news.

The first ad is set in a hospital lift where nursing staff surround a bedridden Mrs Patel. Just as the elevator's doors are to shut, a journalist, clothed in all black, enters the lift. Holding a mic labelled 'bad news', the rabble-rouser reports the bad news - Mrs Patel has kidney stones and to top it, she has to worry about the expensive surgery bill and the chances of her health insurance claim facing a rejection. Mrs Patel is flustered.

Cue for good news journalist to enter. In his reassuring voice, he explains the good news - the health insurance expertise of Apollo Munich and trust of HDFC has combined to form HDFC ERGO Health.

When Mrs Patel asks what's in it for her, he answers that it's a company you can trust because it settles one claim every two minutes and has, as of now, settled claims worth more than Rs 5,000 crore. While bad news journalist Nawaz looks disgruntled upon hearing this, Mrs Patel is elated. Good news journalist Nawaz looks at us and states, "India is now feeling better".

While the first ad speaks about the fear of expensive surgery bills and claim settlement anxiety, HDFC ERGO Health's second ad talks about the need of a vast cashless hospital network. When Sushant suffers an accident on a remote road, bad news journalist Nawaz comes out of nowhere and begins to harp on the fact that Sushant needs immediate hospitalisation but that unfortunately, there isn't a single cashless hospital nearby.

Suddenly, good news Nawaz pops in. Smiling and poised, he reports that due to the newly formed HDFC ERGO Health, there are 10,000+ hospitals across 650 cities including the one where Sushant is in right now. Bad news Nawaz isn't too pleased.

HDFC ERGO Health goes bad news, good news on health insurance

We spoke to Azazul Haque, Chief creative officer, Mullen Lintas on the marketing challenges they faced after the acquisition. He says, "Apollo had huge equity when it came to health insurance and HDFC enjoys the trust of its people as a brand. The challenge was how not to negate the existing customers of Apollo Munich. The aim was to tell these customers that now you're also getting the trust and backup of HDFC."

He adds, "Considering the current economic scenario in which a person is likely to wonder what's going to happen to his insurance company, we wanted to tell him that you will now enjoy the expertise of Apollo Munich and the trust that HDFC lends. That was the good news the campaign tried to communicate and it should not just look like HDFC has acquired Apollo Munich."

About the choice of Nawazuddin Siddiqui to portray the role of 'bad news' and 'good news' journalist, Haque comments, "The portrayal was kind of a reflection of what is happening in society. These days, there are journalists of two types - those who want to take bad news and blow it up and those few who deliver good news. The idea of a bad news journalist came because the genesis of this category (insurance) is bad news."

He continues, "The good news was one big company acquiring another big company. Thus, the idea of the bad news reporter and the good news reporter. Later on, when we thought of who fits in performance wise and has a certain mass appeal, we thought Nawaz would sit in well."

And lastly, on the fact that the acquisition was not portrayed as the most pivotal and eye-catching aspect of the ads, he says, "The entire thing was not to make it look and sound like an acquisition. We were clear on this and so was the client - we wanted to play up the benefits more."

While the acquisition is a major move in the general insurance industry, HDFC ERGO Health wanted to ensure their present and prospective customers do not panic but instead see the double benefits they stand to receive - Apollo Munich's expertise and HDFC's trust.

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