Abid Hussain Barlaskar

“Would be deeply satisfying if people act”: Axis Bank’s Asha Kharga on new spot

The digital ad urges employers to transfer salaries of domestic helps to their bank accounts against paying it in person - in cash or waiting till the lockdown ends.

The latest digital ad from Axis Bank’s ‘Dil Se Open’ campaign sets an example in many ways. First, it shows the way to be relevant and still remain helpful in the middle of a crisis. Secondly, a lot of work in the advertising industry has been put on hold following the ban on shoots and production (work) due to the ongoing three-week-long lockdown. The execution of Axis Bank’s ad film closely resembles a digitally produced dynamic creative that does not require shooting, yet puts a story across. And then, the brand picked up a prominent, but unexplored cause. The almost 50-second-long video requests employers to transfer the salaries of their domestic helps directly into their bank accounts, instead of paying in cash - which, in today’s social distancing scenario, is not an option. A national lockdown was enforced last week to check the spread of COVID-19.

The ad is topical since domestic helps, like all other employees, are locked inside their homes till mid-April. The common conversation here is about people taking care of their daily household chores in the absence of the help. Finally, speaking of the cause and the brand fit, the story is about money and the ease of digital banking. It goes well with the brand’s original ‘Dil Se Open’ ad burst from January, which positioned the bank as a humane entity inviting customers in. While the campaign was crafted by Lowe Lintas, this latest piece of communication has been crafted by AutumnGrey.

Asha Kharga
Asha Kharga
Axis Bank

“The genesis of this contextual content came from a simple observation. Most of us pay salaries of our domestic helps and our cooks through cash. In this new world of social distancing, when neither of us can step out, we thought it would be quite apt for people to transfer the money online so that livelihoods of these hardworking women don’t get affected. If people act on this message, it would be deeply satisfying,” says Asha Kharga – executive VP and group CMO, Axis Bank.

Bodh Deb, vice president, AutumnGrey, tells afaqs!, “What is seemingly becoming tougher by the day is to crack an insight and idea where the role of the brand is relevant. And even if you happen to be lucky enough to crack it, you’ll inevitably hit the execution bottleneck. The insight, message and execution – every aspect of the idea matters. And never has (there) been the need to also be best friends with all your designers, motion graphic designers, animators and video editors.”

Deb reveals that the team bumped into the insight during one of the agency’s early morning brainstorming sessions for Axis Bank and that, too, at the right time. The plan was to go live with the film just before the pay day, when the salaries reach bank accounts (or before the first day of a month- April 1 in this case).

Bodh Deb
Bodh Deb

“All this while we have paid their salaries in cash. We never really needed to know their bank details. But how do we pay them in these times? Are we going to call them and ask them to come out of their homes to collect their salaries at a time when we all should not step out of our homes, unless it’s absolutely necessary? Are we going to make them wait and pay them later when the lockdown ends? That’s where we thought we have an idea where the role of Axis Bank, as a brand, was relevant and meaningful,” he explains.

With a tight deadline and folks working from home, the initiative needed the parallel coordination of different teams. The jobs of client servicing, a copywriter, a designer, a motion graphic designer and a video editor had to be done parallelly, since the agency didn’t have time for the client’s feedback. Crafting a new film in case one was rejected wasn't an option.

“We internally shortlisted three out of the four ‘execution treatments’ (versions that were 95 per cent ready-to-go-live) of the same idea and presented to the client. Thankfully, the good folks at Axis Bank liked one of them and we could go live just at the right time. We are hoping people will resonate with this message and do their bit,” Deb signs off.

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