Union Bank’s new campaign aims at differentiating itself from other public sector banks.
It is an evening like any other. You come home from a long and tiring day at work. You make tea, hit the couch, switch on the television and watch anything that can help you unwind. After a while, the show breaks for a commercial and, almost listlessly, you rise to get some more tea when an innocuous moment from the commercial has a lump rising in your throat. Suddenly, you are swept over with emotions of forlornness and belonging.
You can’t help it — it is a poignant moment that all, except a fortunate few, have lived at some point — the time when we leave our old parents behind in search of a better tomorrow. Ironically, the same moment from the commercial also describes aptly the advertiser’s departure from its old mores.
Last month, Union Bank of India (UBI) unveiled a new logo and, along with it, a Rs 75 crore campaign for outdoor, television and print media. It rolled out two television commercials (TVCs) and four print ads. The TVC that shows the departing son is the first of the two commercials.
The first shows a family of three — father, mother and son — in conversation at the dinner table. It is clear from the talk that the son is going away (perhaps abroad) to return only after six or seven months. He has an early morning flight to catch. The father asks the son whether he will be able to reach the airport so early in the morning. The son assures him that he will manage.
Next day, the son wakes up hours before the crack of dawn, gets ready and leaves the house in hurried steps so he finds a taxi to the airport in time. This being an ungodly hour, the road outside the house bears a deserted look. There is no taxi in sight. The son’s body language tells us that he is getting anxious as time is ticking by.
Just about then, a lone taxi appears from one end of the road. The son waves desperately at the driver. The taxi brakes to a halt near him. The father — in his usual impassive, becalming way — steps out of the cab, making not too much of the fact that he was out a lot earlier in the night, looking for a cab for his son. A voiceover spells out the sentiment with the bank’s new proposition: “...kyonki apke sapne sirf apke nahin” (your dreams are not yours alone). UBI’s new logo appears at the end of the commercial along with the tag line that has remained unchanged: Good people to bank with.
The second TVC, which broke early this month, focuses on brother-sister bonding. Says Bobby Pawar, chief creative officer, Mudra Group, the agency behind the campaign, “The idea is to bring out the power of shared hope through people who play an important role in a person’s life. This was to convey to customers that UBI is not only a bank, but also a partner who shares the consumers’ hopes and dreams. Today’s customers want a lot more than mere home or education loans. They want their bank to be a committed friend who comes to their aid in tough times.”
UBI’s new logo unveiled with the campaign shows two interlocked Us, which, according to the bank’s chairman and MD, M V Nair, reflects the idea of partnership between the customer and the bank.
The new logo and media campaign mark the culmination of a revitalisation exercise the bank undertook in the past 18 months. Says Nair, “The re-energising efforts began when we decided that we needed to differentiate ourselves from other public sector banks.” The challenge, he says, was to do it in a rather short span of time as private sector banks have been cornering a sizeable part of the emerging class of consumers.
Nair says the bank has managed to harness the combined might of people, process and technology during this phase to see its business double in three years — from Rs 1 lakh crore in 2005 to Rs 2 lakh core in 2008. UBI’s target is to become one of the three largest banks in the country by the year 2012.
UBI is not the only scheduled bank that has felt a compelling need for an image makeover. The last 13 months have seen several leading public sector banks, such as State Bank of India (SBI), IDBI Bank, Canara Bank and Bank of Baroda, come up with high-spirited marketing drives.
While SBI’s media campaign came in the wake of its rights issue, for the rest of the banks, this was purely an exercise to change their perception among consumers. Ananda Bhowmik, senior director with Fitch Ratings and a senior banking analyst, affirms the drive is all about image makeovers. “Government banks still find favour with senior citizens. At the same time, their negative image among the emerging class of consumers is keeping this fast-growing segment away. So they are telling the new consumer, ‘we are as spirited and colourful as the private banks are’.” The last two years’ market share statistics support Bhowmik’s observation.
A comparison between public and private banks’ market share (on the basis of total deposits and advances, as in March 2007 and 2008 respectively), reveals that government banks are seeing a fast erosion of their consumer base.
For instance, Indian Bank Association’s 2007 figures put the SBI group’s market share at 30.3 per cent. Data available with Business Standard shows that the combined share of SBI and its associate banks has fallen in the last year. Similarly, market shares of Bank of Baroda, Punjab National Bank and Union Bank have fallen in the last one year.
A loosening grasp over the market, increased pressure on margins, the lucre of fee-income business that will come from the emerging market, and a pressing need to motivate employees are the main factors that have prompted government banks’ recent rejig efforts.
“The energising efforts have been going on for a while, the public sector banks have put technologies in place, remodelled their business, and their branches are now selling products. All they have to do is to go out and put this message across to the new class of consumers.” If the recent media campaigns are any indication, the public sector banks have exactly this in mind.
6 months ago