Visa, the retail electronic payment network, recently rolled out a new ad campaign that aims at promoting cashless transactions in India. Titled #KindnessIsCashless, the film has been conceptualised by BBDO India. It effectively highlights the positive aspects of the brand - simplicity of card transactions, the element of convenience and the overall ease of making cashless payments.
The film revolves around a teacher and a student. In one of the shots the child tells his teacher, "kayi dino se dekh raha hoon aap kafi pareshaan lag rahe hai... kabhi cash ki tension, kabhi chutte ki jhig, jhig. Aap cash ki jagah apna card use kar sakte hai kahin bhi," (Over the past few days, I have been noticing you getting hassled as you are unable to tender exact amount. You can use your ATM card anywhere.) The student even offers to teach his teacher how to make card payment. The film ends with the Visa's message, "Reach out and teach someone how to go cashless. #KindnessIsCashless".
Although, Visa India had opted for the 'quirky route' in its previous campaigns - Waxing, and Surprise gift, this time, the brand has come up with an emotive ad film. Also, post the demonetization drive, a number of brands such as Paytm, Airtel Payments Bank, Oxigen and Freecharge, have released ads highlighting digital payment / e-wallet services.
Most importantly, the last time we heard the phrase 'Chuttay ki jhig jhig' was in a Paytm ad. Visa India's new ad too seems to convey the same message as the student in film mentions 'Chuttey ki jhig jhig'. So, we wondered if using the same phrase is a little risky, as viewers may have, by now, come to associate that line with Paytm?
However, there's a contextual difference between Paytm's and Visa's communication. And that contextualisation is 'demonetization'. The Paytm communication in reference here, was created before the demonetization era. As a result, they needed to present a very strong argument to create a behavioural change in consumers. That's because, as a nation, we have been largely used to cash transactions. It's not just about low credit card, debit card and net banking penetration, it's simply a mindset. People had different types of fears - What if the money gets deducted from my account but doesn't reach the merchant? To whom will I go to address my concern? What if the data connection goes off in between a transaction? What if my financial details are misused by the merchant or the platform (even today e-wallets provide only a superficial basic level of data encryption and security thereof)?
Add to these real, tangible fears - the very fact of inconvenience - downloading a new app, then registering yourself, using it (QR code usage is still not a very popular mechanism in our country) through multiple steps. These made the task a tedious and complicated process. As a result, e-wallet usage wasn't a favoured form of financial payments. And that's why players like Paytm had to address very specific, tangible barriers against cash usage such as 'Chhuttey ki jhig jhig'.
Post demonetization, India has undergone a sea of change. It's no longer e-wallet brands chasing the consumers, but consumers chasing e-wallets, as they have hardly any options left. The point is, e-wallet brands don't need to advertise anymore. Using an e-wallet (from the download stage to the final payment per transaction) is more complicated than using a Visa Card. But as the financial ecosystem has changed in their favour in such a big way, they now don't need to either convince or educate consumers. They (consumers) are learning it on their own.
While Visa too benefited from this socio-economic change, they are restricted to only offline usage (physical card swipe through a machine) vis-à-vis a Paytm which is both online and offline. So, they are trying to increase their product penetration by wooing in new users (in this case senior citizens by educating them on how to use a Visa Card).
We asked the experts, 'What is the best and the worst thing about this ad?'
According Ayan Banik, head brand strategy, Cheil India, e-wallets don't need to re-invent their communication propositions. Mass media communication (be it TVC or digital films) are only acting as a brand re-call medium or a brand awareness medium. He says, "While I fully understand and appreciate the marketing strategy of increasing revenues by increasing penetration (getting new users - senior citizens), I don't quite like the creative execution. There are some flaws, e.g. overt references to barriers of cash transactions (long queue at ATMs, and repeated emphasis of the old man being rejected or in trouble because of 'chhuttey nahin hai') are not required because, during demonetization, people have experienced it the real hard way. So, we are using precious TVC time in showcasing something that's redundant and doesn't need a hard sell."
He adds, "Not just creatively, but even strategically it's a weak premise. Visa's enemy is e-wallet, not cash. It needs to fight e-wallet barriers of usage rather than the barriers of using cash. So, other than MK Raina's stellar performance (it's always a delight to see him on screen), and the idyllic hill station setting, nothing else really works in this ad."
Anu Joseph, chief creative officer, CreativeLand Asia, has a different stand. He says, "It's a nicely made film. Casting is great and the story is told quite well. The message is clear, and I don't think the fact that a lot of brands are urging people to go cashless with similar emotional films is a problem. That's because going cashless is going to need some education. The more the merrier for the economy."
Muddassar Memon, AVP - Creative & Social, iProspect India, too agrees with Joseph and says, "This is a beautiful video and I absolutely loved it. The story line is filled with warmth and leaves a smile on your face after watching it. The #KindnessIsCashless proposition comes to life strikingly when the teacher learns something new from his student and is delighted about it."