Of Life insurance, long-format ads and fear

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The life insurance sector in India has seen a lot of action of late – three big brands have released long-format ads supported by activity in traditional media and social networks. Max Life has created the Second Chances campaign with a message: ‘you are important to your family, so secure them’. Tata AIA’s ‘Daddy or Zooey’ says ‘you will do anything for your family’ and Birla Sun Life’s ‘Khud ko kar buland‘ story is about ‘not allowing destiny to dictate our lives’.

The life insurance sector has traditionally portrayed senior citizens and their happy, secure retired lives in advertising. Such portrayal perhaps had little scope of attracting the real target audience from a business point of view – the younger lot. When you are in your late 20s or early 30s, life after 65 is hardly a concern. One tends to live for today and promises of a happy, secured life 30 years hence is difficult to grasp. The common advertising trigger was one of fear – most ads highlighted things that could go wrong and pursued a negative angle, as it were. HDFC Standard Life’s (that was the company name then) ‘Sar uthaake jiyo’ was a stand out for many because it portrayed a sense of security, confidence and a positive outlook.

In the current crop of ads, there is an element of fear too. The trouble with that approach, in my view, is that many think bad things happen to others, especially at a stage in life when there is so much energy and good things (jobs, salary increments, marriage, children, new car etc.) happening. The positive stroking in the garb of self-belief, confidence to face adverse conditions, pride have a better chance of success in terms of signing up people for life insurance, early in life. In this context, I thought Birla Sun Life’s ‘Khud ko kar buland’ conveyed a positive message – of not wallowing in self pity and getting on with life with grit, determination and a smile.

The Tata AIA TVC was cued through a print ad reminding users to watch the ad. I completely forgot about it after seeing the ad and caught up the next day on YouTube. I thought the print ad was sheer indulgence and perhaps the digital medium could have been a better bet to remind viewers about the TVC – closer to the time of its airing (if it was simultaneously on TV and YouTube). While the story was sweet, I felt the film was tad too long and only reiterated what many already believe – that ‘you will do anything for your family’. I am not sure if it will motivate someone who is not in the category to sign up or push a competition user to switch.

As an aside, it appears to me that instead of focusing on creating impact, driving home a relevant message and focusing on brand differentiation, made-for-YouTube films are simply about duration. It is as if the creatives have finally broken away from the constraints of a 30-second commercial and thrilled at the prospect of 3-minute films like the proverbial ‘kid in a candy store’. What say?

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1 Comment

  1. Sagar Shah Reply

    I could not agree more with this. Emotional blackmail has been the biggest hook for marketers in this category. We have tried to break this trend with our ads. Would love to hear your views -

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