Fortunately, insurance is no longer associated with the ‘unfortunate aspect of life’. In commercials, visuals of a widow narrating how insurance made her life easy, gloomy scenes of death and destruction have been deleted permanently. Now, insurance ads talk about ‘how to live life well’ rather than ‘how to be better prepared for death’. Some of them even make you smile.
The ‘whacky’ ones like the tiny tot growing up with the ‘symbolic’ tree and reaching to meet his loved one or the unsuspecting couple greeting their son’s ‘firang’ girlfriend and child that follows, and the resilient Dravid getting advised by every Tom, Dick and Harry.
Let’s not forget the unplanned and planned ads from Metlife. All sing the tune of happiness, some even take it forward and add a pinch of ‘khuddari’ (self respect), but this too in a positive way.
Advertisers have clinched the emotion right. Modern Indians believe in living their lives well rather than worrying about death. Then why depict this at all?
Swapan Seth, Co-CEO, Equus Ads, reasoned, “The shift in the advertising stance is nothing but a reflection of the shift in the consumer segment. From fatalism, it has moved to pragmatism. It is as simple as that.” Equus has created the eight-part series for Max New York Life with Rahul Dravid.
The Indian mindset has changed and it was high time both marketers and advertisers woke up to understand this. “The young generation also looks at taking up insurance policies. However, unlike the old times when people used to associate it as ‘mere’ security, now everybody wants to work shorter, live longer and hence, look at policies that can upgrade their life and come handy when they are ready to pack their bags,” said Vikram Ramachandran, Group Account Director, Bates India, who was has been involved with the commercial for Tata AIG.
Tongue-in-cheek humour, ‘peanut’ characters and capturing the ‘unpredictable’ – these are all tools used to counter the ‘moment of truth’ positively. On how the ‘planned-unplanned’ commercial made all the difference to Metlife, Gaurav Suri, Director-Marketing, said, “This campaign has been effective in raising our awareness levels from 21 per cent (October, 2004) to 38 per cent (March, 2005). This data is based on the Life Insured Brand Health Monitor of ACNielsen ORG MARG.”
McCann Erickson Creative Director Tony Lawrence felt that in India, typically, ‘intelligent humour’ worked well (as opposed to slapstick).
“Advertising, above all, has to entertain. No one wants to see heavy, loaded and morose stuff, especially with the remote perpetually aimed at the screen. Life insurance, or for that matter even general insurance, intrinsically is a serious category, but this doesn’t mean the communication also needs to be like that. The format of ‘if you don’t do this, you will suffer’ can and does put off people to the extent of completely closing out the brand itself,” he explained.
Emotions like “khuddari” can also add the spice to the campaign. For HDFC Standard Life Insurance, it was essential to break the clutter. Rajesh Aggarwal, Executive Director, Dentsu, said that the storyboard had to be appealing for this ‘late entrant’ to communicate strongly.
“HDFC Standard Life Insurance was late to join the communication arena and we really had to go back to the consumers to understand what emotions they attribute to insurance and ‘self respect’ was the verdict,” Aggarwal said.
Sanjay Tripathy, Head-Marketing, HDFC Standard Life Insurance, delved deeper on what led to the ‘definite shift’. “Khuddari is a deep-rooted Indian value, which defines the way we all love to live – ‘On our own terms, with our heads held high’. And life insurance is a critical solution to ensure that the family’s financial independence and self-respect is maintained at all times,” he said.
Whether it is humour, happiness, self respect or any other aspect of life that is being captured by the advertisers for a not-so-fun category like insurance, all’s well that truly ‘ends’ well. Isn’t it?