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"There is no such rule that a PSU bank has to work with several agencies": SBI's Dinesh Menon

By Suraj Ramnath , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising
Last updated : May 11, 2018
Dinesh Menon, chief marketing officer of State Bank of India speaks about his newly appointed agency Rediffusion and his plans to appoint a digital and media agency.

Recently, State Bank of India (SBI) appointed Rediffusion Y&R as its creative agency. Previously, the mandate was handled by a seven-agency panel. Since the three-year contract came to an end with the previous agencies, SBI called for a fresh pitch. 22 agencies participated in the creative pitch that went on for around four months and eventually Rediffusion Y&R won the mandate.

We decided to speak to Dinesh Menon, chief marketing officer, State Bank of India, to better understand the reason behind appointing a single agency, which is against the unwritten norm in the public sector banks.

Dinesh Menon Dinesh Menon

Menon says, "If you look around in the industry, you won't find clients having a bunch of agencies except for PSUs because that's been the practice and the norm, so to speak. But there is no rule, as such, that we have to work with several agencies. Before we went ahead with a fresh round of pitches, we made sure that there is no such rule."

Talking about the challenges he faced working with multiple agencies, Menon says, "All seven agencies had dual responsibilities of creative and media and we didn't have a media AOR. So, it was not the most efficient way to work. It was also very time-consuming because whenever we had a creative requirement, we had to brief all seven agencies; they would then come back with their presentations and we would have to sit for seven different presentations and that was not at all time efficient."

Menon points out that wherever there is a panel of agencies, the brand won't get a committed team working on an account. "Because there is no committed revenue for the agency, you may not even get the best teams. If I would run an agency then I would hope the client is paying me a fixed share so that a committed team is in place for the account. So, you are always in the mercy of the agencies when it comes to getting the best resources", he adds.

After considering everything, SBI has decided to get an individual media agency as well as a digital agency on board to get the efficiency going there as well. The pitch process for media and digital agencies will begin soon.

Talking about the creative expectation he has from Rediffusion, Menon says, "Our agenda with Rediffusion, is to ensure that we don't drop our creative quality and keep going up and up. As a brand, we don't resonate much with the younger audiences, so that's the big challenge that Rediffusion is up against. They will have to develop a communication which will help us build affinity with the younger audience, at the same time, without eliminating the existing lot of consumers and that's the big challenge for Rediffusion. The quantum of work is a lot so they will have to match speed as well on that."

SBI already has a core TG and existing consumers which is 30 and above but the bank is now targeting a younger TG of 18-25, male and female, SEC A and B.

Although SBI has appointed Rediffusion Y&R as creative agency, the brand is still to brief the agency for its first ad which Menon says will take some time to happen.

A look at SBI's recent TVCs:

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First Published : May 11, 2018

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