OOH-digital combination works well for us: Abhik Sanyal, DSP Investment Managers

Abhik Sanyal

Abhik Sanyal, Head – Consumer Marketing, DSP Investment Managers reveals some behind the scenes of ‘Dramayana’, Influencer Marketing in the BFSI world, and more.

DSP Mutual Funds, this February for its tax saving product – DSP Tax Saver Fund and collaborated with 101 India to conceptualize ‘Dramayana’.

In conversation with Social Samosa, Abhik Sanyal, Head – Consumer Marketing, DSP Investment Managers speaks at length about the ‘Dramayana’ campaign, the significance of storytelling and much more.

What was the idea behind Dramayana? What was the brief given to the agency?

Dramayana is actually a very simple idea at its core- rooted in absolute fundamentals of today’s communication- attractive, fun, watchable, simple, relevant content that grabs the consumers’ attention and also addresses a problem they have.

The brief for this project was a simple one. Every year come January, salaried professionals start evaluating tax saving investment options under Section 80C of the Indian IT Act, 1961. Many financial brands start pushing their tax saving options to woo these customers. However, the constant hammering from across categories leaves the customer with mixed messages, or at best, variants of the same two messages- save tax and grow wealth. This makes it difficult for the viewer to judge what could work better for them. We felt that the financial industry has over the years, created lots of traditional messaging on tax saver products and we were looking to disrupt this style of communication. We wanted to create something never done before in the financial space, even if it could be considered risky by the traditionalists, given the non-directness of our approach. And just like that, Dramayana came to life.

We collaborated with 101 India to conceptualize a novel template that helps tell different stories effortlessly and very quickly. Dramayana is a whacky video series that showcases interactions between a father-son duo, where the son seeks advice from his Angry Father for various situations in life, and the father has all but lost hope in his faltering son. Yet, being the father, he gives his son the right advice. There is actually just one video- visual scenes bound together, showing an interaction between this father-son duo in a style befitting a bygone era. The crazy subtitles added a whacky edge to our stories. The same video was subtitled differently to create 7 different situations. The inspiration for Dramayana came from the old school black and white movies that were so over the top in their acting that in today’s time, they come across as funny classics!

How has the campaign performed so far? Does it achieve the parameters and objectives set by the brand?

The truth is – in the financial space, a promotional campaign is only one part of a larger framework of actions that can impact business. Therefore, the outcome that really matters is whether people are actually getting interested in our tax saver fund and investing in it. While current numbers look encouraging, we will be really able to judge this better by the end of March.

Dramayana as a campaign is focussed on storytelling. In BFSI marketing and advertising, what kind of a role does storytelling have to play?

Let’s face it- Stories make life really interesting. Whether the person consuming the story is a prospective customer or an existing customer, one can build something relevant that has the chance to ‘move’ the audience. It is something people can use to contextualize a brand’s offering in their life and can also appreciate and absorb better- as long as it is interesting and memorable.

When a brand tells a story, it has the chance to position itself among consumers to aim to build loyalty for the brand, rather than just talk about a specific product proposition. In the financial space, especially among mutual funds, products are almost ‘commoditized’ with difficult-to-discern differentiation for the consumer. It is increasingly becoming important for brands to marry great stories with empirical evidence- which makes the consumer exercise both the left and the right side of their brains. But in the quest to make things interesting, it is easy to get waylaid and think in a complicated manner. Stories in our world therefore have to be very simple, especially given how complex financial products can appear to be. The easier it is for the consumer to understand and connect with it, the higher the chances it’ll work.

From television to mobile, media consumption has evolved dramatically. As a BFSI brand which platform has managed to yield the maximum results for the brand? And why?

Television to mobile is a natural progression of the viewer’s key demand: a sense of control. People today want to watch on-demand content more and have the ability to switch off or make their own choices. Which means as brands, we have to work that much harder to give them something they truly like or at least find relevant.

At DSP Mutual Fund, we have also seen an exponential growth in the consumption of content through mobile devices over the past few years and it is becoming the medium of choice amongst marketers. Everyone is attempting to think mobile first now when creating content and this trend will continue. We are also seeing our audience viewing and participating a lot more through their mobile devices.

The penetration of smart mobile devices is getting deeper among smaller towns as well. This gives us the chance to reach these audiences with a higher frequency through a digital-first approach than would have been possible through TV, which is expensive.

The digital medium allows one to understand and profile audiences much better to enable cleaner and relevant targeting and yes, it is much easier to attribute business metrics from digital campaigns or content. However, it becomes even more powerful when it is part of a larger ecosystem of communication vehicles. DSP’s presence on traditional media vehicles such as print, television or outdoor has been reducing in percentage terms as against digital, but this is not a reflection upon our belief in any one medium over the other. Each of these platforms has a different kind of a role to play, depending on objectives, audience segments and of course, budgets.

Also Read: Interview: Though content consumption on digital is increasing, TV offers highest reach: Abhishek Gupta, Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance

Influencer marketing has become a buzzword over the last few years. In terms of BFSI as a sector, does the concept hold any value? Have you worked with influencers? If yes, how was the experience?

I’ve always believed that every piece of marketing is actually ‘influencer marketing’, in the sense we’re doing what we can to influence people to like us, understand us or to buy more of our products.

But in the new age context, influencer marketing has a fairly niche meaning. It has definitely been tried in the financial space as well- both in good ways and unfortunately, in bad ways too.

Using influential people to reach out to those who can potentially buy financial products can help create influence over such prospects, but done wrong, it can be a really inefficient spend and can spread the wrong message too. If marketers work with those who are true influencers- meaning they actually have a following who believes and trusts them for their advice or recommendations, then, of course, the concept works, if not in terms of instant business impact, then for creating brand equity. However, a lot of brands also end up simply paying anyone with a large enough following to say good things about their brand or products without actually them having had any real experience whatsoever with said brand, which comes across as totally insincere and fake. In fact, most audiences are smart today and easily see through such paid, unreal endorsements.

It definitely helps build the buzz when we partner with the right set of influencers and also helps validates our proposition in the consumer’s mind. On the other side, many influencers can have a very large percentage of their following as fake, and social networks keep changing algorithms and rules for influencers. One has to study this space deeply before committing to it. Eventually, if an influencer shares their real, authentic experience, nothing like it. But if it is a clearly paid endorsement, it is much more honest to state this upfront and clearly.

JFM being one of the most important quarters for BFSI brands, what has been your marketing plan for the same? Are there any marketing tactics that worked well for the brand?

Every year in JFM, we focus our efforts primarily on promoting DSP Mutual Fund’s Equity Linked Savings Scheme (ELSS). This year, we have been active on OOH and are heavy on digital – to build awarenessand gain business. Our OOH campaign ran the ‘Axe Your Tax’ creative whereas our digital push contained many more elements depending on audience segments, including the outdoor extension as well as ‘Dramayana’. We have found this OOH-digital combination to work well for us.

It is often said that ‘Client-Agency Relationship’ is a myth. What are your views on the same? Do you have separate agencies for Digital, Creative, & Media? Please take us through your agency structure and how it helps the brand.

We believe in building a strong client-agency relationship. Focusing on a partnership-oriented approach where there are trust and honesty, with the eye being always on the objective, irrespective of where the ideas come from, helps keep things smooth. There are many examples today where one gets the sense that a lot of deliberation and partnership has gone into creating the final product- an endearing piece of video content, a risky print ad, an OOH innovation, a smart social media interaction experiment and what not. Successes, as well as failures, have to be shared equally- in the true sense of partnership.

At DSP, we have a strong network of agencies for digital and media. For creatives, while we’ve got some amazing ideas from our current digital partners and continue to do so, we also consider collaborating on a project to project basis with different folks as experiments.

This, by and large, enables us to remain nimble, ‘current’ and also allows us to be flexible with budgets.

2019 is slated to see big-ticket events such as Cricket World Cup and General Elections 2019 – how will this impact the advertising spends in the BFSI sector? How will the brand be leveraging these events?

It would be fair to estimate that partnerships and spends will be going up across all sectors, not just BFSI. As far as we are concerned, we behave like we want our investors to behave- long term orientation is key. While big ticket short term events such cricket or the elections are great opportunities to contextualize our messaging, our objective remains long term consumer awareness, engagement and loyalty. We may or may not spend any more than usual but we’ll leverage these events to put out messaging on good investment principles, like we always do.