Facing growing competition even as many consumers are yet to feel the need for their products, insurance companies are looking at television reality shows to get their message across.
Engaging consumers: Max New York Life is in talks for advertiser funded programmes on the lines of HUL’s.
ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Co. Ltd is funding a reality show, loosely based on the bonding between fathers and sons, called Papa Aur Mein (My father and I).
Another private insurance company, Max New York Life Insurance Co. Ltd, is also readying a TV show to promote its offerings.
“We are in talks to make a reality show for ICICI Prudential Life. The show based on the father-son relationship will likely be aired this year,” says Deepak Dhar, country head, Endemol India Pvt. Ltd, the Indian subsidiary of the Netherlands-based TV content producer Endemol Group.
“We have not finalized anything yet. Right now, we are talking to Endemol and our media buying agency Mindshare to see if it will work,” says Sujit Ganguli, senior vice-president and marketing head, ICICI Prudential.
Industry executives say the show’s theme has been finalized and it will have the company’s products woven into the content, albeit discreetly.
Meanwhile, “we are in talks with some TV channels and producers about funding a show. The idea is to engage consumers at a broader level,” says Debashis Sarkar, director, marketing, product management and corporate affairs, Max New York Life.
To be sure, advertiser funded programmes, or AFPs, are not a new phenomenon on Indian TV. Consumer products maker Hindustan Unilever Ltd, or HUL, has been succcessful with programmes such as Wheel Smart Srimatiji and Rin Mera Super Star. HUL is said to be working on 15 such programmes woven around its different brands.
If ICICI and Max launch their shows, it will be the first time financial services companies are piggybacking on commercial TV shows.
One goal is to try and reach out to those, especially in rural areas, who are still not insured.
In rural areas, for instance, only around 25% people have bought insurance of any kind and in low-income households, insurance penetration stands at around 30%. Meanwhile, the market is still dominated by state-run Life Insurance Corp. of India, which accounts for 70% of the Indian insurance market.
“Plain-vanilla advertising will only build the brand whereas such programmes will help build the awareness about our products and services,” says Max’s Sarkar. “It is the next level of marketing.”
Indian television reaches at least 55% of the population, some 120 million of 212 million households.
“TV as a medium will help us get through to a wider audience quite effectively and efficiently,” adds ICICI’s Ganguli.
Financial planners say such advertising will work, at least initially.
“Such efforts are likely to get companies a lot of mileage in terms of building consumer connect. But once such shows become common and the consumers are able to see through the idea, it might lose its efficacy,” says Gaurav Mashruwala, a Mumbai-based financial planner.
“Financial product companies have so far been focused on building their brand awareness in the market. Whereas now they need to build awareness about their products and services. AFPs are a good strategy to achieve that goal,” says Mozez Singh, vice-president, B6 India, the branded entertainment network of media buying firm Havas Media.