“Ouch!” That’s the first thought that struck me as I picked up the newspapers this morning. No I am not referring to the coverage of the FM’s interim budget, but to the full front page ad for State Bank of India in the leading and very-expensive-to-advertise-in newspapers.

The full-frontal assault hurt for two big reasons:

1) You don’t spend this kind of money to advertise anything in today’s market scenario – especially to promote a brand we’re all well aware of.

2) The creative sucks as it reeks of a lie – SBI claims to be “The Banker to Every Indian”. Sorry to bust your bubble, but that is just not true. SBI is not my banker, and neither is it the banker for many, many people I know.

With this false claim, you the bank (SBI) and the agency (Interpublicity) are asking to be slammed by ASCI and every other body/person who monitors untruths and false claims in advertising.

Admittedly SBI is a huge bank. A respected one at that. It also has a long history with many Indians. And I personally have been a fan of its intelligent and insightful communication over the years.  But to make claims like this current one doesn’t help SBI’s reputation of trust. And to do it in this wasteful manner, is adding insult to injury.

13 COMMENTS

  1. What got me about that ad was that it labeled the Foreman and the Architect as “SBI Customers” (i.e. “Indians”) and all but ignored the two workers in the picture! Are the WORKERS NOT ALSO INDIAN???!!!???

    • Lol~! Yes, the entire campaign is arbit…
      It’s someone’s idea of creative leap that’s leaped so far, it’s landed on Panet Ridiculous.

  2. What’s wrong with “The Banker to Every Indian”? The takeaway is that it’s a banker to all kinds of Indians and not necessarily all the people in that category. If you remember, the recent Maruti tagline ‘India comes home in a Maruti’ follows the same structure.

    • My problem is with the word ‘every’ which is definitive.

      I love the Maruti “India comes come in a Maruti” line and campaign.

      Here India is the spirit, it is the people, and the brand is not audacious or corny enough to suggest/presume ‘every’ one of us drives a Maruti.

      The SBI line is clearly amateurish, and not thought through enough.

      The agency and client should have done due dilligence and deliberation on the merits and nuances of the line.

  3. The “Banker to every Indian” campaign with all the famous Indians also opens it to parody by replacing the likes of Tagore with Harshad Mehta and Ketan Pariekh

  4. Highly conceited I must say!

    Well if one cannot appreciate an organisation’s making a difference, by not having to lean on BRAND AMBASSADORS ( Read: Bollywood for all the trouble they are worth) the least you could have done is not to slam the campaign for the undersatnding that it has.

    It stands for the trustworthiness of the bank ( VALUE ), if you read Kotler correctly for Ad Communication basics right.

    If you run this place randomly..great you deserve precisely..random shoves.

    • Hi Ninny,

      Thank you for taking time out to comment on my post on the SBI campaign.

      Please see my response to Anisha in the context of my overall positive appreciation of the SBI advertising.

      Also please take time to appreciate that there is a huge difference between “understanding” and “execution”. Perhaps the team that created this campaign has all the right understanding and insights. But I do not like the choice of the word “every” – as both, a communication specialist, and as a member of the larger audience.

      I never had an SBI account, neither does anyone in my family…

      As for slamming those who mindlessly use expensive brand ambassadors, I am on your side – please check out my other posts on the subject:

      Noshtradamus on celebrity endorsements

      How celebs get fired

      This said and done, please do return to my blog, randomly even, and post a comment whenever you can. I would love to hear from you again.

      Regards,
      Noshtradamus

  5. I can’t believe as a person who seems to have a high understanding of language, you cannot see the simplicity and brilliance of the campaign with the word ‘every’. It has been clearly communicated through the campaign that they are referring to every kind of Indian,and they do not imply-as you so vehemently state-that every individual Indian banks with them.It is their way of showing they cater to all,and if your constrained mind cannot appreciate the creative brilliance,at least don’t state anything against it without understanding.Go ask the Creative team that worked on the campaign what they wanted to imply,and I’m pretty damn sure they’ll say something similar.

    • It seems this post of mine on the SBI campaign has raised a lot of hackles and created consternation among “general” people. Most of the comments here are from “well-wishers” of the campaign, and they deride me for my derision of it.

      Let me state upfront, that I have no agenda against SBI or the people that created it, whom I am sure put in a lot of effort to build it to the scale at which it was built and broadcast. I have in fact, over the years greatly admired SBI advertising and have even written about the brand positively in many of my international advertising reviews published elsewhere.

      I agree with Anisha on the simplicity and brilliance of SBI campaigns, albeit not on this one. Most SBI campaigns are deeply insightful and connect with its audiences – which includes its customers in great measure.

      The fact is, advertising doesn’t come with explanations and riders of intent beyond the stated – in headline, copy, or fine print. The keyword here is “stated”.

      Bringing out clearly what is “implied” is the creative team’s responsibility, and not something for audiences to imagine or investigate as a parallel.

      In the twenty years I have spent so far in this business I have created hundreds of campaigns for scores of brands. And I myself have been at the receiving end of flak – for silly mistakes, oversights, and sometimes for obviously stupid campaigns. So I can understand the other side as well, and apologies if its upsetting people.

      But am I changing my opinion on this campaign??

      Nope.

      As Anisha pointed out, perhaps the offending word is “every”, and the core of the idea is actually insightful and brilliant. But as a member of your audience, I reserve the right to ‘take out’ what I want from the campaign at first pass and express my opinion on what it did to me.

      You can write here and try and explain to me what was “implied” and I will even publish your indignation and clarifications. But you cannot do that with “every Indian” who doesn’t get it… can you?

  6. With regard to the SBI campaign of ‘banker to every indian’ with pictures of personalities from Indian Independence movement era seems to me like an ill conceived idea. Before Indepencdence, SBI was not the contemperory SBI even. It was owned by the British and was called the Imperial Bank of India (till 1955, when the Govt of India nationalised the bank with RBI obtaining 60% stake in it). I wonder whether our forefathers would have joined this bank, had they known that it was going to be another big commercial enterprise as it is today.
    NO DISREGARD TO THIS GREAT BANK INTENDED

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