Proposition of making banking simple through creative advertising

Kotak Mahindra Bank’s new advertisements highlight its proposition of making banking simple.
It is a common scene from the life of any middle-class Indian nuclear family. The husband, wife and daughter have just finished their meal at a restaurant. The husband has paid the bill and is waiting for the waiter to return with the change. The “change”, it so happens, is substantial. Still, the husband, in a fit of male bravura, leaves the entire money behind. Then the wife steps in, chides her husband, retrieves a hundred-rupee note and hands over the rest to the waiter.
Another advertisement shows a few children at a man’s house to collect money for a cricket tournament. The man wants to contribute but is wary of his wife who wants to curb his extravagant habits. Even though he somehow manages to fulfill his wish, the wife is clearly unhappy after she catches him red-handed.
The scene shifts to a Kotak Mahindra Bank branch. The two are counseled by a relationship manager on how the bank can help them save and grow their money. A voiceover follows: Whether he changes or not, you remain care free with Kotak Mahindra’s ActivMoney. The couple looks pleased with its interactions with the relationship manager of the bank. Voice over returns: Kotak Mahindra Bank. Let’s make money simple.
The campaign is an attempt by Kotak Mahindra Bank to break the clutter by invoking the housewife’s natural instinct to save and curb the profligate ways of the husband. In all their campaigns so far, state owned as well as private banks have either talked of technology (and hence convenience), branch networks or special offers for target groups. Some have even roped in celebrities in the past. This is the first time a campaign has targeted the good sense of the housewife. It also acknowledges the wife’s important role in planning the finances of the household.
Banks are fighting tooth and nail for retail deposits, which come cheaper than corporate deposits. Such deposits improve the spread between the cost of funds (liabilities) and the interest charged on loans (assets). Such deposits are thus crucial for improved profitability. Kotak Mahindra Bank’s current campaign is clearly targeted on retail customers.
Kotak Mahindra Bank has been around for six years now but most people still see it as an investment expert. That’s because the group has been associated with mutual funds, wealth management and insurance for nearly 24 years now. It is also a shareholder of Business Standard Ltd which brings out Business Standard. They wanted to broaden that stance and be seen as an overall money management expert.
There’s another reason, during the financial chaos triggered by the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September last year, most other banks launched fresh taglines and advertisements. The idea was to reassure customers that it was business as usual. But Kotak decided it was time to revaluate itself. Consumer psyche had received a rude jolt. Going back to the consumer with the same old story did not make sense.
The starting block was to find out how the mindset of consumers had changed and what were they now looking for from their bank. So, Kotak Mahindra Bank carried out a brand health track with Nielsen, which was a combination of hard metrics and softer feedback. Another study conducted with the help of the market research outfit, Quantum, was on the qualitative pulse around the mindset of money. The two studies showed that people had some sense that the world had changed from an era of excessive consumption to moderate restraint but without any regression. It also showed that in the modern world, husband and wife act as a joint team and women are equal partners in all significant economic decisions.
With this in mind, the brief given to the bank’s agency of one year, McCann Erickson, included two things. One was to increase the bank’s top-of-the-mind recall. The second but equally important part stemmed from the research findings, which indicated that while people had begun to take stock of their situation, they weren’t prepared to regress. Between 2000 and 2007, consumers had extended themselves and now they are taking stock and seeking help.
The result was the “Let’s make money simple” campaign. Kotak has on its crosshairs the big category called “mass affluent” with an annual household income of above Rs 450,000. The focus, of course, is on urban and semi-urban markets. The television advertisements will be followed by a 360-degree campaign with on-ground, outdoor, radio and internet activities.
In fact, the radio campaign has already been kicked off. A mother, anxious that her son isn’t preparing for his mathematics exam, asks if the bill for tire repair is Rs 2 and his father gives Rs 10, how much will the mechanic give back. Zero, says the boy, because the father will ask the mechanic to keep the change.
At present, McCann handles the creative duties of the banking and mutual funds’ business of the bank, while JWT is in charge of life insurance, credit cards and securities. Prior to the split, Ogilvy & Mather was responsible for the entire Kotak Mahindra portfolio. The advertisements, took about a month to make.