What will happen if banks do not advertise?
Nothing ! would be the answer for most of us but when in the midst of competition, most of them are forced to full scale venture into Marketing Communication, albeit half heartedly. SBI ads in the past (Surprisingly SBI for example) was quite a misnomer for this notion and for a PSU (a public sector unit) bank it was indeed surprising for the people to see SBI rolling out ads which for the first time smelt class and appeal ….
That ,but was the spring .. a lot of trees bloomed,… it was fragrance all over…banks across the country went for an image revamp … logos got redesigned, now colors , new brand elements, new communication, celebrity endorsers and a lot of soft music… a whole new banking scene so much so that an NRI who came home after a gap of three years simply refused to step in to an Union bank of India branch seeing its new aura, little knowing that inside its all the same- the same old people, processes and procedures that reeked incapacity and incompetence and over everything a disgusting apathy to the customer( kasht se Mar..)…
But the Ads were good .. but then came the autumn season… recession and its vampire effect spilled blood… the main stream private banks which gave the public sector banks a run for their money ( and eventually forced them to look, talk and smell good in branding and communication) started falling like palaces made of cards.. branches closed down .. The 8 to 8 customer friendliness and plastic smiles vanished and notable enough, advertising virtually stopped… none of the new and improved banks thought of continuing communication with the market place during tough times…
SBI but is and was an exception… they went on in what any neutral observer could easily see as a huge communication vacuum and probably was the only big bank to be keeping talking to the people during the din and dust of a recession battle… The emptiness which others left and SBI still talked in was the best opportunity in the recent times but the ads that came out was more or less an also ran or at the max one can call it as a good idea married to poor execution( every Indian’s banker!)… Initially when the concept was fresh, it was attention-grabbing but then the drag and too much of overdoing the dish spoiled it..... Then they took the same idea from the ordinary Indian ( teacher, police man, boat driver ,street vendor and the like ) to great men like Tagore and Jagadish Chandra Bose and keeping on saying Every Indian’s Banker…
I am not saying that the ad’s are a total disillusionment but it could have been better… Agreed that Interpub (the ad agency behind this creative) is no O&M (who left SBI for Bank of India after having got accolades for its 'Surprisingly SBI' campaign) .. but Interpub in the past have shown better creatives for SBI- the 'Pure Banking-Nothing else' campaign for instance, which said ‘We could make all our offices look really plush. Instead we choose to establish 9,500 branches to serve you’. If that was a bench mark this one is making me a bit unconvinced- day after day !
Every Indian's Banker... !
My primary question is IS IT? because it is not my bank and so is my friends , colleagues, acquaintances and students.. I talked to about 25 people in a sample survey just to avoid being biased against India’s biggest bank, and no one had an SBI account…
Surprisingly? Not really !!!
My second question is even if it is SO WHAT? Should a bank of the stature and size of SBI resort to such awareness type of ads,,,? Or is it smelling of a reminder appeal that comes when brands fall into a decline stage in their life cycle?
My third question is about the kind of money that is being spend to reach across the length and breadth of India with this ad and that too continuously and that too when we are hearing cost cutting and optimization of spends….I guess of all the spenders, a bank should know the value of money than anyone else..
SBI and Interpub should rethink of "what it wants to say" before the ads become every Indian's worry !!
Tell us a story, but something new... please !
Tail piece :- 'One of life's disappointments is discovering that the man who writes the bank's ads is not the one who makes the loans.'