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The idea was not to give a rude shock to ING customers, but gradually welcome them to the Kotak family: Karthi Marshan

28-April-2015
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The idea was not to give a rude shock to ING customers, but gradually welcome them to the Kotak family: Karthi Marshan

One of the biggest consolidations in the Indian banking industry, which finally got its stamp of approval from the regulator RBI on April 1, 2015, was the merger of ING Vysya  with Kotak Mahindra Bank.

The acquisition has made Kotak Mahindra fourth largest private sector lender in the country with 1,900 ATMs and over 1,200 branches at 643 locations.

Post this Kotak Mahindra started its aggressive rebranding exercise known as ‘Kona Kona Kotak’ across all mediums.

Commenting on the strategy adopted here, Karthi Marshan, Senior EVP & Head - Group Marketing, Kotak Mahindra Bank, said, “The idea was not to give a rude shock to ING customers, but to gradually welcome them to the Kotak family. Therefore, we created an interim signage on all ING banks, which said ‘ING Vyasa is now Kotak Mahindra’ to tell people that this is a different kind of Kotak on transition period. We didn’t change it overnight to Kotak because it would have created dissidence as customers would have expected the same services as of Kotak immediately. It will happen soon, and there is a lot of work to be done at the backend. But for the customers, it has to be a smooth ride.”

On being asked how customers will benefit from the merger, he said, “For both, the erstwhile customers of ING Vyasa and the legacy customers of Kotak, there are few differences in benefits as well as similarities. Talking about some of common benefits, ING has a strong suite of consumer products, so does Kotak and interestingly, many of them ended up being complementary. So we are seeing an opportunity that we will take to merge the two and have a much robust suit of products. On the other hand, the idea, that cities we are in need to be celebrated and not just the big cities, is already manifested in ING credit card product idea, which is ‘take pride in your city’. It allows customising your credit card with images of the city where you live or hail from. At some point when the technology merges, we will be able to offer this to both set of customers. Also, all ING customers will get the benefit of 6 per cent interest rate on savings account. ”

Excerpts from an interview with Karthi Marshan:

What was the insight behind the ‘Kona Kona Kotak’ campaign?

We realised that while any merger news will be relevant to stakeholders like investors, shareholders or corporates, the question that we really wanted to address was ‘what is in it for a retail customer’? Their response to the merger could be ‘so what’? Thus, we thought that our communication needs to basically answer this ‘so what’?

The ‘so what’ for the householder, salaried and small business owners needed to come from what had changed for them. One of the key things that changed was the size of our network of branches and ATMs. However, we know from experience that saying “we have so many more branches” etc, may not be useful as people typically need context to synthesise such a message. Instead, we chose to focus on the fact that many of these branches were in really interesting corners of this vast and glorious country. Thus, the idea ‘Kona Kona Kotak’ came in.

It may be recalled that Rolls Royce did a campaign long ago about how the noisiest thing in the car was the clock on the dashboard. By inference, people got that it was a very quiet car. Or when the Economist ran an ad that said ‘Management trainees aged 42 don’t read it’. By inference, we understood that successful people read the publication.

Similarly, our insight was that if we communicated that we were present in such exotic locations, places whose names many people have not heard of, they would infer that this meant we were in enough places to be of meaningful service to them.


What are the different mediums used for promotion of the campaign?

We used TV, Outdoor, Radio and social media as part of our marketing strategy. We launched with a print campaign in Economic Times, which was targeted at corporates. Here, the communication tone was very corporate, telling readers that ING Vyasa is now Kotak Mahindra Bank and also highlighted how the country’s fourth largest private bank is well poised to contribute to India’s growth story. The print ad was conceptualised by Alok Nanda & Co.

Thereafter, we went aggressive with the ‘Kona Kona Kotak’ TVC  with over 500 spots a day for 10 days across all leading GECs, business, English and regional news channels as well as the IPL. TV and Radio communication was conceptualised by Cartwheel.

For Radio, we adopted a different strategy using a 30-second multi-lingual spot, where people in different languages refer Kotak Mahindra branch or ATM as a prominent landmark. It states that you can now find Kotak Mahindra Bank in every corner. On the social media front, we are engaging the audience by communicating to them that our presence has increased and we are located not only in your town, but hundreds of other towns as well. On social media, we are running a contest ‘Kona Kona Kotak Hunt’ where we are inviting people to tell us what makes their city special.

What is the idea behind including small towns and highlighting them in your outdoor campaign?

The merger has increased our national footprint significantly and we wanted to highlight this presence. Hence, we included smaller towns and cities such as Pehowa, Chaibasa, Changanassery, Guntur and Duliajan. Our line of communication has been ‘Proud to be in your town #KonaKonaKotak’ or ‘Now in Kanchipuram. And hundreds of other towns.’
The idea was to tell people that Kotak is truly present in the ‘Kona Kona’ of India.

What is the duration of the campaign? And which one was the most effective medium?

The campaign is over and out. We delivered what we were supposed to and everyone has liked it. While the campaign was on, we were all over and because of IPL, our TVC also got good traction. Actually, some elements of the social media campaign are still on and it will extend till the end of this month.

It is very difficult to tell which one was the most effective because each has its own purpose. There can be actually no contest among them. The idea was to create excitement and we have done that.

Right now, we are taking a breather and contemplating on what our next move should be.

Tags Kotak Mahindra Bank Kona Kona Kotak Cartwheel Jifi Sarmistha Neogy

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