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Returns from the investment in IPL looks quite good: Karthi Marshan, Kotak Mahindra Bank

Rather than 30-second TVCs - of which they would have only managed two or three in a day, Kotak opted to sponsor all the 4s hit during an IPL match.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Apr 11, 2012, 04.27 AM IST
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Returns from the investment in IPL looks quite good: Karthi Marshan, Kotak Mahindra Bank
IPL touted as the Superbowl of India, is yet to reach the adulation enjoyed by its Western counterpart. However what the event has managed to achieve is to become a favourite with marketers. One such brand riding the wave this year is Kotak Mahindra Bank, albeit in a conservative manner.

"Traditionally yes we wouldn't have joined hands with IPL as it is quite cluttered as well as expensive and Kotak is a conservative spender. However IPL is also the more dramatic form of cricket, where 4s and 6s dominate the game. So when we evaluated the returns we would get from the investments we made in IPL it was quite good," explains Karthi Marshan, head - group marketing, Kotak Mahindra Bank.

So rather than have 30-second TVCs — of which they would have only managed two or three in a day, Kotak opted to sponsor all the 4s hit during an IPL match. "The probability of a 4 being hit in the match was much higher and the frequency of a 4 being replayed as well," says Marshan.

In October 2011, when RBI deregulated the interest rates that a bank could offer on its savings account, Kotak started offering its customers 6% rate of interest, instead of 4% which was offered by most public and private sector banks.

In November 2011, they launched their first TV commercial communicating this new proposition with Subbu as the protagonist. Five months later IPL is just the high volume platform Kotak needs to reemphasise the message. The whole point of the campaign is to increase awareness and IPL will help the brand do just that.

"We believe IPL will help connect this message better with the customer. There is a residual effect of earlier campaigns and now people have been adequately exposed to various things we are doing," says Rajendra Dwivedi, VP, Starcom India, the media agency handling the brand.

Through two-and-half months of IPL, the bank hopes to reach out to its target, i.e. men across the country. Besides associating with 4s and 6s, Kotak is also unveiling its new SMS short code 54646 through IPL — a play on the 6% rate of interest.

Returns from the investment in IPL looks quite good: Karthi Marshan, Kotak Mahindra Bank


Marshan claims they received 120 SMSes at the end of Day 1 of play and a good number of them were interested in opening accounts with Kotak. "There is a strong differential in the campaign and that helps to get noticed. Because of the benefits offered to the consumer they responded to it," says D Ramakrishnan, founder Cartwheel, Kotak's creative agency.

The campaign is also being extended to newspapers, where a column will be devoted to the 4s and 6s of the previous day's play. Online and mobile activation for the campaign will be implemented soon says Marshan. Bank brands are typically built on the time that they have been around and the locations they are present in, both of which are a disadvantage for Kotak.



It's been around for eight years and operates in 200 locations in India. So does advertising then make a difference? "Advertising acts are anyways a proxy and helps the brand being recognised and aids recall better. People are then more open to the brand," says Marshan.

Similarly, when some new information has to be communicated, advertising is a big help, he adds. However Jagannadham Thunuguntla, strategist and head of research at SMC Global Securities doesn't think all the advertising and even the 6% rate of interest has helped Kotak a lot.

"The 6% rate of interest has not done as well as Kotak was expecting it to do. It has not delivered many results for them," says Thunuguntla.

As far as advertising is concerned, Thunuguntla says: "they have been giving this message for a while, so there is no feeling of freshness in it. Future deposits will anyway come irrespective of advertising, but the immediate results that they expected from advertising have not happened."

Marketing experts would argue that creating a brand is not an overnight job and Kotak itself claims that the results of the 'Subbu' campaign have been quite encouraging. However whether IPL 5.0 delivers on Kotak's expectation of more business is for the moment neither a 4 or a 6, but an unknown quantity.
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