SBI insurance ads up to life

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Sravanthi Challapalli

Chennai, Dec. 15

DOES the word insurance strike terror in your heart, remind you of the definite "something" that's going to happen? Perhaps it is wrong to begin this way, because that's exactly what SBI Life doesn't want to do. It wants to associate insurance with life vibrant and well-lived, and not with fears of impending doom.

And who better to show that than two septuagenarian sisters springing a surprise visit on their `kid' brother on his 70th birthday? This describes the TV commercial that is SBI Life's corporate campaign, which exhorts people to "Celebrate Life."

Mr Piyush Pandey, Executive Chairman and National Creative Director of O&M, who headed the team that made this campaign, says, "Life is not about how many years you'll live but about how you live it. The only thing one thinks of when they see this TVC is life. The ability and the independence to do the little things in life are important."

The company has launched another campaign based on the same theme in print, radio and outdoor media.

Mr K. Muralidharan, Chief Sales Officer, SBI Life, told Business Line that the company was looking for a way to make a difference in a market cluttered with various insurance products. It is very easy for the product message to get lost in the babel that results. General awareness of the company needed to be built. All this called for a big shift in tack so that people sit up and notice. Therefore, the departure from the undertones and shadows that insurance advertising is generally associated with.

"All insurance advertising offers a solution after implicitly raising the fear of death or uncertainty of retirement. There are 14-15 players in the market, all saying more or less the same negative things. So we wondered, is there any other way to reflect what we wanted," says Mr Muralidharan. On the surface, insurance is about death. But why should one insure? "It's to make sure an individual, and then her or his dependants, live well. So, if insurance is portrayed in this light, we can get a larger number of people to accept it," he adds.

The size of the life insurance market is Rs 11,323 crore. SBI Life, which started operations in 2001, has a market share of 1.49 per cent in terms of premium and 8.97 per cent in terms of number of people insured, says Mr Muralidharan. Old and major player LIC has 67 per cent in terms of lives insured and a market share of 74.26 per cent.

Insurance companies also face the challenge of getting younger people to invest. Most people under thirty think they are "indestructible," says Mr Muralidharan. The ads are "unpalatable" and "determine your death" and definitely discourage a lot of very suave, articulate people from even contemplating insurance, so our campaign aims to "remove the whiff of death" from it and make it a "happiness product", he says.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 16, 2005)
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