Ananya Pathak

“Insight came from 'khata' system Indians have with local shops”: Asha Kharga, Axis Bank

The voice over has been done by Amer Jaleel, CCO and chairman, MullenLowe Lintas Group.

The word ‘Khata’ rings a bell for most of us. Many of us, if not as a students then as adults, have had our names in the registers of the nearby 'kiraana' stores, or the tea stalls around our office, for payment/bill related issues. With the extended lockdown, many of these small vendors we've had our 'khatas' with, have suffered. Axis Bank’s latest campaign 'Reverse the Khata' builds on this insight.

Conceptualised by Mumbai-headquartered advertising agency Lowe Lintas, the one-minute-30-second-long film was released by Axis Bank last weekend.

Asha Kharga
Asha Kharga

Asha Kharga, executive VP and group chief marketing officer at Axis Bank, tells afaqs! that the foundation for this campaign came about as a result of some seminal work done on the brand over the last year to unearth its core purpose.

“We defined that core purpose as 'Open', which is not just a sign on our door. It is a sign of what to expect when you walk in through that door. It is the spirit of embracing new things with outstretched arms, and an attitude of being responsive to change,” she says.

Kharga explains that it comes from the brand’s core belief that even the greatest of technologies haven’t, and can't, replace the ultimate relationship building tool between the customer and business – the human touch. “… and that wherever there is a human in need, there is an opportunity for kindness, gentleness, and tenderness to make a difference.”

She reveals that the idea, in fact, came from a group of creative people who don’t work directly with the brand. “We loved it so much because it fits so well with the core brand idea of ‘Open’.”

“The insight came from a simple, uniquely Indian insight of 'khata' that most of us have with local shops, like the 'kiraanawala', the neighbourhood 'chaiwaala', the 'istriwala', to name a few. These are long-standing relationships rooted in trust. As the country starts opening up, these small businesses will need all our support to get back on their feet. And hence, we appealed to the collective goodness in people by asking them to reverse the 'khata' for these local shops,” added Kharga.

She points out that it’s not just a campaign idea. Axis Bank partners with small merchants through various initiatives. Be it by enabling payments to merchants through UPI, or through low-cost payment solutions, like Bharat QR and POS terminals, or providing small-ticket loans through (NBFC subsidiary) Axis Finance.

On the execution of the film, Kharga tells us that the content was made with a lot of passion and belief. “The film is a labour of love because all of us believed very strongly in the intent behind the message.”

The film was executed by LinProductions, the films division of MullenLowe Lintas Group. The narration of the ad copy was done by Amer Jaleel, CCO and chairman of MullenLowe Lintas Group. Jaleel also lent his voice to Axis Bank's 'Dil Se Open' campaign earlier this year.

Axis Bank has invested in digital media for the promotion of the campaign. Kharga points out that the organic reach of the campaign, so far, has been good. “I strongly believe that brands can be a force for good, and this message asks people to join their hands and support local businesses in hard times,” she signs off.

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