CRED is winning, even if you may not get it

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‘If you don’t get it, it’s probably not for you’ is a maxim which could be applicable to any form of creative arts, most recently for CRED in India. Luxury brands, especially in the super premium fragrances sector, have historically produced creatives which could leave the average consumer confused as to what the core message was. It could be a deliberate strategy to create an aura of mystique which sometimes leads to irrational desire. After all, if you are in the market for a wrist watch, a $100 watch does tell the time as well as a $2200 one but the latter has intangible associations which the former may lack. I am digressing here, but would like to emphasise that both offer value for money for their intended audience.

Over the past few months, ad campaigns from CRED, a credit card bill payment platform, have not only been visible on properties such as IPL but have been widely discussed – or rather ‘dissected’ in social media, especially by those in marketing, advertising or the startup world. The ads have been consistently quirky and the pass the first test of any advertising in flying colours – get noticed. The key message, ‘use CRED to pay credit card bills’ and urging people to download the app is pretty straight forward. But the choice of celebrities and the plot of them supposedly ‘auditioning’ for a CRED ad and thus mouthing the selling point in a style they are known for was clutter-breaking. One could argue that the tone is a bit condescending and snobbish as the protagonists are mocked for their ‘talent’ with shades of ‘class’ and ‘mass’ divide.

A common reaction to the ads has been ‘I still don’t get what the service is’. Or ‘will it impact the business at all?’ But undoubtedly the ads have worked – both from a buzz perspective and apparently from a business perspective (‘The platform created a national sensation with their Advertising strategy for the festive season and witnessed a jump in their app metrics). The brand has attracted more investments and has become a unicorn, controlling 22% of credit card payments in India. The founder tweeted some app metrics too:

In this context, comes a new ad starring Rahul Dravid. The ad’s message, as I understood it, ‘getting rewards for credit card payments is as unlikely as Rahul Dravid losing his cool’. The ad was shared by celebrities like Virat Kohli and others on Twitter and soon became a talking point.

The ‘Indira Nagar ka gunda’ catch phrase was also used by other celebrities.

Personally, I did not find the ad *that* funny but ads are always subjective. I got the intended key message that getting rewards for credit card payments was (hihterto) unlikely – as unlikely as Rahul Dravid having anger management issues and that CRED makes it happen. A tad round-about way perhaps but the campaign and the ‘investment’ have worked.

I don’t understand the business of VCs and evaluations but it appears that unlike traditional business, the wait or anticipation of future profits while losing monies for a long period of time is perfectly acceptable. The name of the game seems to be brand affinity, acquisition of a customer base who can then potentially (operating word being that) be converted into paying customers. The positive thing is that CRED is in the FinTech domain where consumers are showing propensity to use often and maybe even pay for a premium service. All things considered CRED is a winner all they way, even if you don’t ‘get’ it.

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