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Ad Review: HDFC Standard Life – promoting self respect via Rajasthan Royals

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Ad Review: HDFC Standard Life – promoting self respect via Rajasthan Royals

Client: HDFC Standard Life Insurance
Brand: HDFC Standard Life Insurance (corporate)
Agency: Leo Burnett
Medium: Television

HDFC Standard Life’s new campaign, featuring Rajasthan Royals players - Shane Warne, Yusuf Pathan, Munaf Patel, Kamran Khan, and Swapnil Asnodkar - promotes and propagates ‘Self Respect’ via its ‘Sar utha ke jiyo’ proposition’. The campaign captures the essence of self belief, pride, and confidence through a journey of the life of these players and depicts how these players have been able to achieve success despite all odds.

The Brief:

Sanjay Tripathy, Executive Vice President and Head - Marketing, HDFC Standard Life, explained, “Our association with Rajasthan Royals is aimed at bringing to the fore our common values – self respect or living life with head held high. The campaign is a natural outcome of our effort in propagating the values of self pride, confidence, and self belief.”

Commenting on the campaign, Rupesh Kashyap, Creative Director, Leo Burnett, said, “When we started working on this brief, we had not one or two challenges, but almost four challenges. First challenge was to bring out a personal story or experience about the cricketers, which they knew it better than anybody. Second challenge was to make them feel comfortable, because they were going to share their personal story with the world for the first time. Third was to shoot five individual films within five hours. And the fourth challenge was to make them act. Wow! We did it and how.”

The Execution:

The primary task for the communication was to extend the brand philosophy of self respect and pride (‘Sar utha ke jiyo’) to cricket. The idea came from the observation that some determined individuals overcome all odds to achieve success. Where others see adversity and despair, they see a challenge and hope. They strive and they struggle to reach their chosen goal, and thus, ‘earn’ their pride. Drawing inspiration from such extraordinary people, HDFC Standard Life exhorts us to ‘Play with pride and live with pride’ (‘Sar utha ke Khelo, Sar utha ke jiyo).

Final Product:

The campaign captures the essence of self belief, pride, and confidence through a journey of the life of these players and depicts how these players have been able to achieve success despite all odds. The video blends the common values (to both HDFC Standard Life and Rajasthan Royals) – self respect – with each of the success stories of these players.

HDFC Standard Life’s new campaign takes slice of life instances where the players have strived against all odds to succeed in their passion to play cricket. Each of them has overcome all hurdles and challenges that life has thrown at them, but they never gave up hope. They have always believed in themselves and their ability and arrive at this point of their lives without depending on anybody else – a true moment of pride. The HDFC Standard Life communication captures these moments in the players’ lives and salutes this spirit through this campaign.

Trump Card:

We rate this ad 7 out of 10.

Xpert Comments:

Prathap Suthan, NCD, Cheil Communications, remarked, “This new campaign is trying to make the company look and come through younger. Perhaps their earlier campaigns overdosed themselves on older people. Not that they were bad. I think they did a great job of focusing themselves and training their appeal to a more mature audience. To a certain extent, their portrayal told me a story and sold me a scenario that most of my friends could empathise with. In fact, I also feel that my dad and mom found meaning and relevance in their appeal. However, a continued use of that carefully engineered and differentiated brand world have probably left the younger, more aspiring and, I daresay, the more moneyed lot uninterested in their offer.”

Suthan further said, “I mean, while the stories were about the possible real thorns of an older couple’s life, maybe the younger lot found them to be too real and painful. Since they were possibly seeing, planning, and anticipating a future less thorny. Insurance advertising possibly requires rosier days. So, maybe that’s why the agency and client decided to change tracks mid-course. And that’s why this sudden, uncharacteristic, and out of the blue injection of T20 cricketers into their brand world. The youngsters surely will find this more in line with their lives. And will of course make the appeal younger and contemporary.”

“I do have a gripe. I actually found this deliberate shift to be odd. While it does revolve around the genes of hard work, value, struggle, and pride, why couldn’t they have kept their original world, and made it younger? Couldn’t they have got cricketers into that world? Maybe they didn’t get the time, maybe they had to do it for sponsorship requirements, maybe they didn’t think enough. Whatever the reason, the audience might squirm, at least the ones who loved their earlier stance. Because they don’t understand corporate deals and business requirements and they don’t discount anything. If it tears into what they hold dear, then damage will be done,” he further pointed out.

Our Take:

We feel that their earlier campaigns were real, raw, and completely believable. They had somehow managed to cross the barrier of unbelievable into the zone of reality, thoughtful stuff that builds brands. There’s dissonance, which could have been done avoided. The idea of ‘holding your head high’ is a hardworking, common man thought, and not a successful, rich, cricketer’s motto. These guys are loaded, and they have talent to help them hold their heads high. Anyways, we hope that this is only a tactical, IPL-specific campaign, and that they would revert to the ‘mothership’. They have a brilliant world that they have created, and it will be hara-kiri to give that up.


Kranti Gada joined the family business at Shemaroo in 2006 after a successful stint of over two years in marketing at Pepsi Co. She has been associated with the company for 12 years.

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