These days, ads relating to products/ services from the BFSI sector are not without a deep rooted social message and often, they veer away from overly tongue-in-cheek humour to get the message across to intended audiences. However, that's not how Tata Capital, the financial services arm of the $100 bn Tata Group, sees things. They recently rolled out a social media campaign titled #WedEqual, starring stand-up comedian Mallika Dua, that addresses the rather heavy task of figuring out wedding expenses, and in particular, who's footing the bill.
Crafted by Indigo Consulting, the ad film somewhat flips the status quo of the girl's side paying for the festivities.
Using humour in this category is naturally, a welcome, albeit, challenging undertaking. It's always a task when it comes to delighting your audience and doing justice, in its intended way, to the brand or product being showcased.
While speaking about the potential challenges/opportunities in the segment, Abonty Banerjee, chief marketing and digital officer, Tata Capital tells us that when it comes to loans given to the younger segments (21-35 years), reports indicate that NBFCs (Non-Banking Financial Companies) had the maximum market share - 49 per cent - in the previous year. For youngsters in India, NBFCs are becoming the go-to lender and it's a great opportunity. "Personal Loans are the loan-of-choice for lifestyle-oriented expenditure like travel and weddings and we seized this opportunity with the Wedding Loan product," she states.
"Wedding expenses as a category is expected to grow at 25 to 30 per cent a year with Young India aspiring to only the very best for their wedding," Banerjee shares. Considering the potential, the brand sees Wedding Loans as a category with huge opportunities.
In a country like India, where wedding expenses end up being way beyond the means of the parents, we asked the experts if the product is relevant and if the positioning is accurate.
Rahul Vengalil, founder at What Clicks, a digital media audit and strategy firm based in Bengaluru thinks the wedding loan product from TATA Capital is something that is novel in the organised sector. Parents would either take a personal loan or approach a loan shark as alternatives.
With this commercial the brand has attempted to be innovative and different by using humour in the narrative, Vengalil also feels that it falls flat and the message moves towards being frivolous.
He explains, "We should be aware that in India over 90 per cent of the wedding is arranged by the family (ET report, 2018). This also means that it's not just the parents but the extended family that also play a role in a wedding. A young millennial may watch this commercial for its entertainment quotient, but they have no say when it comes to the wedding expenses or decisions. However, the people that really matter may give this a miss."
Vengalil sees "WedEqual" as an offshoot/extension of the larger message of gender equality. "Given this, some of the memorable communications that I have seen includes that of BIBA's "Change is Beautiful" and Ariel's "Share the load"," he concludes drawing a fair comparison.
Ads from varied segments in the recent past featuring the much-in-demand content-lady Mallika Dua:
Mallika Dua plays the stereotypical demanding parent in the films. However, on leveraging an internet sensation like Dua (who has already taken the youth by storm) as the face of the campaign, Karthik Krishnan, creative director, The Digital Street views that her attempt doesn't quite come close to serving the purpose.
Even with humour, an already sensitive topic like sharing wedding expenses could've been handled in a more subtle manner that makes the audience pay attention.
"No doubt, Dua's boisterous rendition will evoke plenty of laughs from her fans and followers, but I'm not sure if it'll cut through and make the general public question the status quo concerning the topic. Funnily, I haven't (yet) seen Mallika share the video on her own social media channels, so I'm not sure how her being a social media influencer is helping the campaign," he throws a wild guess.
TATA Capital isn't a stranger to using humour in their communication. Their recent 'Taal Matol Chhodo' campaign stayed true to the insight while relying on the lighter side of life. The videos were simple yet effective, produced in a much better manner and showcased relevant and relatable situations for their respective audiences.
The brand's last year's campaign with the message 'Taal-matol ko chhodo, Tata Capital se rishta jodo' consists of 3 TV commercials that focus on Tata Capital's key retail loan offerings - personal, home and business loans.
However, with the #WedEqual video, the issue has neither been portrayed deftly nor has the expected reaction been shown in an easy-to-understand manner.
With regard to the treatment, there are the questions of whether the gravity of the issue, unfortunately still a reality in our society, is mellowed down to an extent with such a light narrative and if one would consider it a risk in the first place.
Krishnan tells us that a lighter narrative is absolutely encouraged as long as the intended message is conveyed to its intended audience. "The risk I see here is the message getting diluted or lost in favour of humour for the sake of humour," he notes.
Stand-up comedians have come a long way from being people who generated content for laughs. They are now influencers who make you sit up and think. Humour has always been a strong tool to drive pertinent points ailing society.
With the fresh 'pub stand-up' scene garnering a lot of footfalls from consumers, brands are warming up to using them for marketing efforts as well. The latest campaign by Tata Capital uses this to drive home its point - that cost of the wedding should be split between both parties getting married.
Mithun Mukherjee, associate creative director, Grapes Digital is of the opinion that the film not only leverages one of the leading voices in Indian stand-up, it does so quite successfully.
With the 'influencer outreach' approach becoming an almost routine exercise of the digital marketing practice, Mukherjee feels this film should be able to find resonance among its intended target audience.
The campaign will be promoted across social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube to ensure maximum reach and visibility.
However, Mukherjee maintains that from an execution perspective, it could have used a bit of hard work.
While the 'spend meter' at the bottom has probably been used as an easy pneumonic, a smarter execution could have been looked at. "The shortfall, however, is covered up with the crackling copywriting and fairly nice execution by the actors (read comedians) in the film," he shares.
When asked if the conversation is diluted "Maybe not," is Mukherjee's prompt response.
The current audience tends to speak in the language of memes and stand-up routines. Therefore, it is always preferable to drive messages in the same tongue, be it product info or socially relevant information. By playing up the 'bride's family meets the groom's family', the ad creates a familiar setup while highlighting their messaging through a funny execution.
So, will it be able to drive home the point of equal marriage expense sharing? "Only time will", Mukherjee shares candidly.
Let's take a look at some brands who dared to break stereotypes beautifully and showcase the contemporary woman in her all new avatar.
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