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Marketing has long moved on from an era of one-way monologue: Ravindra Sharma 

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Social Samosa
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SBI Life Insurance


Social Samosa speaks to SBI Life Insurance’s Ravindra Sharma about the brand’s marketing strategy for its association at the IPL 2023, media mix and its larger plan to stand out in the clutter brands seen crowding for attention with the numerous IPL associations.

With the beginning of the Indian Premier League, all brands have amped up their branding and advertising activities to cater to a huge audience tuning in to watch the famous sport. Life insurance major SBI Life Insurance has also jumped on the trend, partnering with the Rajasthan Royals Franchisee.

In conversation with Ravindra Sharma, Chief of Brand, Corporate Communication & CSR, SBI Life, Social Samosa goes behind the scenes to delve into some interesting insights of this recent campaign in context of changing consumer expectations from Banking, Finance, Services and Insurance (BFSI) brands.

With over two decades of experience in the BFSI sector, Ravindra is a seasoned professional in designing marketing campaigns, understanding consumers and translating into business solutions, and driving business growth with media planning.

Edited excerpts:

This is the first time SBI Life is foraying into sports; can you shed some light on the brand's objective for the same?

Marketing has long moved on from an era of one-way monologue where it was all about what the brand wants to say and how it can be said in the most effective manner. Today, brands need to understand its consumer and have a meaningful presence in conversations that are of interest to its target audience. As SBI Life, our TG is spread across demographies and geographies, understandably so as Life Insurance is relevant for each and every individual regardless of the level of income or which part of the country they belong to. Hence the foray into sports; which cuts across a diverse TG and moreover cricket with its mass appeal among the Indian audience fits right into SBI Life’s plans to get insurance conversations in every household across the nation. 

While the association will enhance SBI Life’s brand visibility, communicate our messaging effectively, and connect with cricket enthusiasts across the length and breadth of India. We look at this association as a larger opportunity to reach a wide audience and improve consideration for insurance as an uncompromisable financial protection tool. We sincerely hope the visibility offered by the sport will go a long way in spreading awareness about the importance of insurance and furthering the national agenda of ‘Insurance for all’ by 2047.

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Separamadu Lasith Malinga, Fast Bowling Coach, Rajasthan Royals unveiled the larger-than-life helmet installation at Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur

There is a clutter of brands, especially in IPL, how do you plan to stand out?

In today’s age of information overload, SBI Life’s choice of Cricket as the sport, the Biggest Cricket League, Rajasthan Royals as a team and Helmet as the asset, have been strategically thought through keeping in mind the brand synergies and the purpose we serve. As Life insurers, we offer financial protection for families, this aspect of protection is represented by the Helmet in an absolutely straightforward way. So, the first part to make a meaningful association was achieved by the right choice of asset as the Helmet.  

We’ve relied heavily on innovative PR strategies to stand out among the clutter of brands that are active during the sporting festival. The concept of life insurance being as protective as a helmet has been leveraged in our partnership as the lead helmet partner of Rajasthan Royals franchisee. The same was further amplified with the unveiling of a larger-than-life-size helmet installation at Sawai Mansingh Stadium, the home ground of Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur. The helmet installation, measuring an impressive 15 feet in height and 18 feet in width, prominently placed right at the entrance of the stadium is a visual treat for the visiting cricket fans and also the larger populace around the city. With its grand scale and unique design, the helmet installation has been a crowd-puller and conversation starter. Soon after the unveiling of this giant helmet installation it became the talk of the town, the local radio stations, news outlets, social media influencers, everyone started conversations. Such rich contextual on-ground conversations will help seed the thought of protection among the growing cricketing fan base, by associating it with their favorite sport.

Further, SBI Life also associated with the Jaipur Traffic Police hosting a public awareness drive to aid helmet adoption in the Pink City. Wherein, representatives of the Jaipur Traffic Police along with SBI Life’s team also distributed free helmets to motorist impressing upon the role of ‘protection as an enabler’ for individuals to pursue their dreams, thus encouraging a behavioral change to make ‘protection’ a priority.

Overall, we’ve leveraged multiple PR tools to ensure that SBI Life’s association with Rajasthan Royals as the lead helmet partner stands out from the clutter of brand that are vying for consumer attention. The meaningful conversations help impress upon the role of protection, through engaging content, on-ground activations, digital engagements, social media campaigns, and more.

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Shri. Prahlad Singh Krishniya, Deputy Commissioner of Police, (Traffic) Jaipur Police promoting the public awareness drive organized by SBI Life Insurance in Jaipur

In how many phases will the campaign be executed? Please take us through the campaign plan.

Our association with Rajasthan Royals franchisee has been shaped up to be a PR-led integrated marketing campaign to connect with the larger populace on platforms they are most actively consuming content. The campaign was launched by announcing the association with Rajasthan Royals franchisee as a Lead Helmet partner through a captivating digital film which ran on various digital & social media platforms, emphasizing the role of ‘protection as an enabler’.  With the right PR efforts engagements kept picking pace with every match at the home ground, On-ground activations like the installation of larger-than-life helmet at Sawai Mansingh Stadium (SMS) in Jaipur helped increase engagement with local audience in the pink city. Helmet being looked upon as an element of life protection, our aim was to create awareness and impress upon the importance of protection and making it a priority. Further, we also collaborated with the Jaipur Traffic Police by launching a public awareness drive to emphasize on the role of protection as enabler for individuals to pursue their dreams. To engage the larger populace, we collaborated with local influencers who recorded their reactions on the installation of the large helmet, and encouraged local citizens to visit the installation and take selfies. A helmet filter has also been created on Instagram to engage with the audience and promote the message of staying protected in the long run. We’ve also relied on local radio channels to spread the message of protection. Social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube, are also used to extend reach.

Who is your core demographic for this campaign and why?

As said earlier, being a life insurer, we need to stay relevant to a very vast TG and that is where Cricket as a sport has the sweet spot, given its appeal across demographies and geographies. Our association with Rajasthan Royals franchisee is an effort to connect with the core cricket enthusiasts, who are spread across the nation. One would assume Rajasthan Royals to have appeal in the HSM belt, but in our experience good cricket has a PAN India appeal. So the target is everyone who is watching the sport. Through this association as a lead helmet partner, our campaign highlights the importance of being protected against uncertainties. We particularly aim to reach out to individuals who may not have considered insurance before. These may include first-time insurance buyers, young professionals, and families with children. 

How does SBIL's sports association contribute to the overall marketing objective?

SBI Life has been in the insurance business for more than two decades. We are looking at leveraging the extraordinary reach offered by the sport to spread awareness about the role of insurance as an enabler. The partnership with Rajasthan Royals has helped us establish a positive association with the sport and aided in making ‘protection’ a priority among the larger populace. We hope this will aid in further reinforcing our core messaging around the importance of protection and insurance, thereby creating opportunities for customer acquisition and retention.

What are the BFSI marketing trends that you foresee in 2023?

Consumers today are bombarded with a lot of content. It is therefore very crucial for brands to create campaigns/ content that are meaningful to the consumer as that will help in getting him/her connected to the brand. While every brand has its core purpose defined, it is important for brands to clearly keep it in alignment with everything that the brand does while connecting with his customers. At SBI Life Insurance, our brand purpose is to ‘Liberate individuals to pursue their dreams, by securing the needs & aspirations of their loved ones”. We are of the firm belief that life insurance can play the role of an ‘enabler’, liberating individuals to focus on fulfilling their aspirations while responsibly looking after the financial needs of their family.  

Some of the interesting marketing trends that we could see going forward would be

  1. Personalization: Personalized marketing is likely to become even more critical. By leveraging data and AI-powered analytics, BFSI marketers can deliver highly personalized experiences to their customers, including customized content, product recommendations, etc.
  2. Customer experience: The BFSI industry is likely to focus on enhancing the overall customer experience. By offering frictionless experiences, the future of marketers like us is to build stronger customer relationships and drive customer loyalty.
  3. Sustainability: Sustainability is likely to be a critical theme for BFSI marketers in 2023. By promoting sustainable and responsible practices, brands will be able to differentiate themselves and appeal to customers who prioritize environmental and social responsibility.
  4. Influencer marketing: Influencer marketing has changed the marketing game and is likely to continue to be a significant trend in BFSI marketing. 

Any tips for brands planning to invest in IPL? What should they keep in mind before taking the plunge?

While associating with any property, it is key to have the core aligned with brand’s purpose. Sharing below few tips that have worked for us

  • First and foremost, large associations like these need to be leveraged through platforms that can help reach maximum target audience. For maximum RoI lead, the campaign through PR efforts as that will give the required earned mileage and positive publicity Pan-India
  • Secondly, remember PR can efficiently lead an integrated marketing campaign, in fact this will help leverage various other platforms like digital, mass media (TV, Radio, OOH), to let your message reach the targeted audience 
  • Create engaging content. This platform is a highly competitive and cluttered market, so brands must create engaging and memorable content to stand out. Leveraging humor, emotions, or social causes can help brands capture the audience's attention and build brand affinity
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