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Financial sector abuzz with pitches

08-September-2004
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Financial sector abuzz with pitches

Entry of private players in any segment always leads to an increase in churn and going by the looks of current activities, the heat is in the financial sector now. From increased decibel as far as communication is concerned to looking at new creative partners, the ball is on a constant roll in the financial segment.

Looking at the scene more closely, one would observe an underlying factor stands common among ICICI, HSBC, Franklin Templeton, LIC, IDBI, Bajaj Allianz, MetLife, AVIVA, Standard Chartered, etc. Apart from the fact that they are all strong financial players, each has either recently zeroed in on a creative partner or is in the process of doing so.

While for many, the pitch processes have taken place in the Indian market itself, for players like HSBC and Standard Chartered, the change in partners are a result of global actions. Following a global realignment, HSBC moved from Lowe and Initiative to MindShare and Contract. In a bid to consolidate its creative partner, Standard Chartered too is involved in a global pitch now. In India, the account is pegged at Rs 30 crore and is being handled by JWT.

Presently, for Stan Chart, the pitch activities are based out of London. Presentations for the business are already made and the first shortlist is declared. Sharing more on this Sugato Banerji, Sr Manager – Marketing, explains, “This is for the first time that Standard Chartered is consolidating business with one agency. We have sent across our ranking of the agencies here and what we expect from them. A decision can be expected soon.”

Given the heated action on the LIC account and IDBI business, it is obvious that all kinds of players are giving a refreshed thrust in promotions in order to attract consumer’s attention.

“It is the growth of the segment itself,” observes Sanjay Jain, Head, Marketing, Bajaj Allianz. “The business is growing for financial segments in both depth and width as far as distribution is concerned. This essentially means that the consumer now is no longer just a metro man, what in turn means a more comprehensive way of communicating,” he says.

As he explains, even the smallest player today is present in at least 20-plus towns. Citing the example of Bajaj Allianz he adds, “Today, we are present in 200 cities, whereas a year back the count was just about 80. Our communication too has to keep up to that. What we are looking at is a creative partner, who is comfortable with different regions and addressing different kinds of audience.”

Agreeing Jain’s views, Banerjee says, “Where the airlines category and the telephony category were a few years back, there is the financial segment, today. One obvious reason is the entry of private players, which has led to increased competition. In fact, India is the third largest profit-making market for Standard Chartered.”

Throwing a different light on the subject, he states, “An interesting factor here is that unlike airlines and telephony, the category itself needn’t be sold. People are aware of insurance, mutual funds etc. So the point now is that each player has to play in the next level of Why Me?”

He explains that since awareness of the category is substantial in any case, the need is to create awareness around the respective product and that can be only done by smart communication. “You have to differentiate yourself. And more importantly, you have to make the appropriate noise. That is the reason why we have seen an increase in the ad spends in the segment over the past 12 to 18 months,” he says.

Players explain that the category is witnessing all kinds of activities – new services, poaching from established players like LIC, sleek advertising, using kids in communication to increase in ad spends. And action in the category would not dampen in a hurry.

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