Shreyas Kulkarni

Yes Bank's crisis control ad leaves many fuming

The bank is now trying to reassure its customers and the general public that it's back and raring to go. Is that really the case, though?

March 5, 2020, will remain an unforgettable day in the history of Indian banking because, on that day, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) sealed the fate of Yes Bank.

Once the country's most popular bank, it was facing a credibility crisis. Yes Bank, for the longest period, had given loans to those individuals who simply couldn't pay it back. This was one of the major reasons for the bank's financial stability to be put under scrutiny.

On March 5, RBI took over the bank's reins from its board of directors and restricted withdrawals to Rs 50,000 till April 3. The move shocked the borrowers and depositors alike.

With RBI at the helm, a revival plan was underway wherein the country's biggest public sector bank, State Bank of India (SBI), would pick up a 49 per cent stake in Yes Bank.

Yes Bank's crisis control ad leaves many fuming

And yesterday (March 18), Yes Bank carried an ad in newspapers, talking about what had happened and what it's going to do now. The large print read, 'We start a new journey, backed by India's best.'

The moratorium on the bank was lifted and full services resumed yesterday 6 p.m. onwards.

The print ad was crisis management and reassurance communication aimed, first at the bank's customers, and then the general audience (public).

Naturally, it evoked strong responses.

Prabhakar Mundkur
Prabhakar Mundkur

Prabhakar Mundkur, a brand strategy advisor, commented on LinkedIn, "Not an easy job. But do you guys think it reassures customers about Yes Bank? Or does it reassure non-customers? Or is this ad intended for the general public who are in dismay at what happened at Yes Bank and how it disrupted our financial systems?"

Mundkur went on to add, "These are some of the responses I got:

1. No. At this stage, the only thing that will reassure customers is getting their money back.

2. In fact, there could well be a mass withdrawal tomorrow (March 19). Or even after 6 p.m. today (March 18). Some relief for media companies and media persons with accounts in Yes Bank.

3. Definitely assures me because I bought Yes Bank shares at Rs 20 last week."

Atishi Pradhan
Atishi Pradhan

Atishi Pradhan, brand and communication specialist, spoke strongly against the ad on LinkedIn. She said, "Too little too late and zero credibility. What are the actual steps and processes they are taking? To use jargon, where is the 'reason to believe'? If I was a Yes Bank customer, my only concern would be knowing that my money is safe. Not emotional faff, but tangible credible processes. And what does 'Yes for You' even mean?"

Shiv Sethuraman
Shiv Sethuraman

Shiv Sethuraman, founder, The New Business, posted on LinkedIn about the ad saying, "Disgustingly glib! You're not the Harbour Line on a rainy day that your 'services were interrupted'. You stole, cheated and lied. And just because a few banks bailed you out it doesn't mean you are 'redefined'."

Subroto Pradhan
Subroto Pradhan

Subroto Pradhan, managing partner at ADK Fortune, kept it simple. “Any messaging during such times has to be honest, truthful, and rational because customers expect a sincere speak from the brand.”

Without getting into the merit or demerit of the ad, he put forth two questions from a Yes Bank customer’s perspective. One, what are you doing to keep my money safe because there’s no reassurance about it? Second, if I want to take my money out, what is it I need to do, because my trust in the bank is shaken at this time?

"Unless we get to see concrete measures taken, how can one believe you? What does ‘Yes for You’ mean? As a consumer, this has to be narrated correctly," says Pradhan.

"While the intent is right, consumers are seeking more at the moment, they’re asking for substantiation. The common man isn’t too interested about behind the scenes action, he or she only wants sufficient reason to trust the brand again."

"If the brand gives a solid and logical argument, consumers may think of keeping their money in the bank. If that doesn’t come, people will take their money out of the bank. And it’s not the best of times for the banking sector, so the trust factor is low right now. So, doing lip service won’t suffice,” Pradhan said at the end.

Raja Ganapathy
Raja Ganapathy

Raja Ganapathy, founding partner of Spring Marketing Capital said, "This is not a great time for brand building, Yes Bank. A simple announcement that you are back to serve your customers would have been way more dignified."

Such responses are expected when a brand communicates to its customers and the general public during crisis, or after emerging out of it.

Yes Bank's crisis control ad leaves many fuming
Jet Airways/Twitter

When Jet Airways announced, in April 2019, that it was halting operations, there was a lot of concern around already booked flights, money invested, and also members' JPMiles.

On April 17, 2019, the airline, in a press release, said, "We would like to assure our members that the value of their JPMiles are secure and remain intact. With our air reward offering 'Select Flights', members have the choice to redeem their JPMiles to fly free across more airlines, any destinations, any flights and any seats in India and globally. It starts with the same JPMiles requirement as before, which was applicable on Jet Airways and its partner airlines."

Trust is the main factor which determines how people respond to a brand's communication before, during, and after a crisis. The responses here don't paint that bright a picture for Yes Bank.

We reached out to Yes Bank, but received no response, and strangely, we were also unable to find out the agency behind the print ad.

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