Yuvraj Singh played a stellar role in India's World Cup triumph in 2011. Now the popular brand ambassador is fighting a battle with cancer. Should brands like Birla Sun Life and Revital show greater sensitivity? Best Media Info explores
Ananya Saha | Delhi | February 7, 2012
Cricketer Yuvraj Singhâs association with Revital and Birla Sun Life Insurance is not news. What is news, however, is the fact that Birla Sun Lifeâs ad on the cricketer is drawing flak while Revital has replaced him with actor Salman Khan.
Birla Sun Lifeâs still on-air TVC uses the insight âJab tak balla chaltha hai, thaat chalte hai. Jab balla nahi chalega tohâ¦â (Till the bat rules, you rule). Many are finding this campaign now in bad taste as it appears to be cashing in on an ailing national hero for commercial benefit.
The social media is abuzz with criticism. Here is a sampling of some tweets: âYuvraj Singh is battling cancer. Just to show some sensitivity, shouldn't Birla Sun Life stop airing the ad which says âJab tak balla haath mein haiâ¦Poor taste. May he emerge as the fighter that he has always beenâ; âBit disturbed by Yuvraj Singh's Insurance advertisement. Would be different if it were a PSA campaign on cancer and fighting backâ; and, âBirla Sun Life running Yuvraj Singh's TV ad several times a day is crass opportunismâ.
The TVC went live on January, 30th 2012. View the ad here:
But how do brand experts and the creative fraternity view the situation? Is it in bad taste to use a campaign that seems to cash in on an ailing hero/icon?
Harish Bijoor, brand expert and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc., commented, âBirla Sun Life is using Yuvraj in a creative manner that is a perfect fit for the current situation. However, I do believe the ad needs to be dropped now with the gravity of the medical situation that Yuvraj is going through. Brands must not link the personal ills of an individual to brand benefit. Sensitivity is more important than making a perfect hit with the creative. The company has other creatives to use. Possibly this is the right time to plug in the creative execution with Sehwag.â
KV Sridhar aka Pops, National Creative director, Leo Burnett, holds a similar view. He said, âThe news of Yuvrajâs condition broke yesterday evening. So I assume that the brand got to know of it only yesterday. The ad in question is about life insurance, and is a sensitive and sad thing for a talented cricketer and his supporters. It would be better if the brand withdraws the ad for now, and bring it on-air once the cricketer is hale and hearty given that it is only a matter of 6-8 weeks.â
Anil Nair, President, Law & Kenneth, however, holds a different view. âThe Birla Sun Life Insurance ad is true to life. It talks of uncertainty and unpredictability of life. It is unfortunate that Yuvraj was diagnosed with cancer, but it is also true. I do not think the brand should take it off-air,â he said.
Well-known marketing honcho and former CMO of Tata Teleservices Lloyd Mathias is of the opinion that there is nothing wrong per se with the Birla Sun Life campaign using Yuvraj, but he suggests that the timing for increasing the frequency of the TVC on air is perhaps not appropriate. He said, âI think the Birla Sun Life ad is a very well executed campaign. And it has been on air for more than two weeks now. They had signed Yuvraj much before his condition was detected or made public. However, upping the frequency of airing the ad might not be a good idea given the circumstances.â
Brijesh Kapil, Vice-President, Ranbaxy Global Consumer Healthcare, whose Revital campaign itself is under scrutiny, said of the Birla Sun Lifeâs TVC, âHad I been in their place, I would not have done (aired) it.â
Coming to Revital itself, it so happens that the brand from the house of Ranbaxy Global Consumer Healthcare (RGCH) has just launched a TVC and print ad featuring Salman Khan. Yuvraj Singh used to be the brand ambassador featuring in the Revital campaign till recently. Has Revital brought in Salman so that they don't seem to be cashing in on an ailing Yuvraj?
Brijesh Kapil of RGCH refutes this, maintaining that they had signed Salman Khan for commercial reasons after Yuvraj Singhâs contract with them got over on December 28, 2011. âWe were never worried about Yuvrajâs career, for we aired the TVC featuring him even when his career hit the lows,â he said.
Nirmalya Sen, MD, TBWA India, said, âSalman is at the right age to do a Revital ad. But I am not sure if Yuvrajâs ailment is the reason behind this change. I would like to give the brand the benefit of the doubt.â
But Nair of Law & Kenneth strongly disapproves of the move to replace Yuvraj. He said, âWhat Revital has done by bringing in Salman stands in bad taste.â
Meanwhile, the mani in contention, Yuvraj, himself had tweeted about his new ad for Birla Sun Life on January 31: âMy new ad for Birla SunLife, Jab tak balla chalta hai thaath hai. Eager to hold my âballaâ again!â
We wish you a speedy recovery, Yuvraj, and want you to swing your âballaâ once again.
Birla Sunlife ad, without increasing the frequency, will convey the message aptly. In my view there is no harm in continuing with the ad. Sanjay Gora Senior Manager, Corp Comm, SAIL