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Digital helps sustain our campaigns at a fraction of cost, says Karthik Raman of IDBI Federal Life Insurance

The CMO and Head Products & Strategy talks about the brand’s marketing strategy, challenges of advertising in insurance and his belief on digital medium

Karthik Raman

Insurance advertising was a very boring space until few years back. The only tonality brands used in their communication was fear and scaring people about death. However, over the last few years, we have seen brands in this sector come up with really intelligent communication to break the clutter. From using humour to releasing long format emotional ads on the digital platforms, insurance brands are finding new ways to lure people to buy their products. 

Karthik Raman, CMO, Head Products & Strategy, IDBI Federal Life Insurance said, “Our Indian mindset is such that anything can happen to everybody, except me and my family. Our society and culture is such that we don’t discuss things like death. But these are reality; we cannot shy away from this. The trick, therefore, lies in how to subtly position it.”

IDBI Federal Life in association with its ambassador Sachin Tendulkar, who came on board last year for a period of five years, has launched a new campaign, #KeepMoving, which aims to highlight the message that to create a healthy lifestyle, it is important to focus both on physical and financial fitness.

Raman says IDBI’s focus is to empower people to create a lifestyle of their own choice. “Our vision as an insurance company is to highlight the fine balance between physical fitness and financial fitness.”


The CMO says the company relies on digital over other mediums for maximum reach as he feels it can sustain them for a longer time. “If I put up a hoarding in a prime location, it will drain my entire budget in a month. Digital will help me sustain this campaign for a very long time at a fraction of a cost and guarantee the reach.”



What is the main objective of the #KeepMoving campaign?

The main objective of the campaign is to empower people to create a lifestyle of their own choice. Our vision as an insurance company is to highlight the fine balance between physical fitness and financial fitness. Short films conceptualised by L&K Saatchi & Saatchi have been launched on the digital platform, where the cricketing legend will encourage the users to log on to the #KeepMoving microsite. It is then, they can take a short assessment test and the results would reveal their current fitness levels on both the parameters, and provide advice, and tips to improve their scores.

Which mediums are you mainly focusing on to promote the #KeepMoving campaign?

The campaign is mainly digital, and Sachin’s social media handle will also be used for the promotions. Right now, we don’t have any plans to use any other mediums. If I put up a hoarding in Marine Drive or any other prime location in Mumbai, it will drain my entire budget in a month. On the other hand, digital will help me sustain this campaign for a very long time at a fraction of a cost and guarantee the reach.

In terms of your marketing spends, which medium gets the maximum allocation?

It is a no-brainer, it is digital for us. See if I have to go for a television ad, I don’t know which channel or time to select. I have never seen a channel for more than 10 minutes; the moment an ad comes, I change. So the first thing that comes to my mind is, when IDBI Federal Life Insurance’s ad comes, people will also change. So, it is zero mileage for me unless it is a cricket match. And if I am advertising during a cricket match, I probably will have to sell my kidneys. The best part of digital is that you are constantly there.

What is the biggest challenge when it comes to advertising in the insurance sector?

The biggest challenge when it comes to advertising in this sector is that everyone speaks the same language. When we got into the industry, we were the 18th player; the others were just talking the same thing. If you have joined late, the challenge is, you can’t be just another player. If you want to get the attention, you will have to do something which is different from the rest. Other players have very deep pockets; they will just murder me if I try to sing the same song. So our hurdle was to break the clutter and we successfully managed to do it. Even today, every player is using the same tonality; the branding is largely around fear or tax.

Another setback in this sector is the lack of awareness and education. Amfi's 'Mutual Fund Sahi Hai' campaign helped the industry in terms of educating, and people are now aware of what mutual funds are. Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) is now talking about life insurance as a financial asset and why it is an important part of your portfolio. I believe, once this campaign breaks out, there will be interesting messaging in this industry.

Which emotion do you mainly rely on for advertising, and which works better — is it fear or humour?

In our case, we are talking about financial freedom and good health. But largely if you see, people talk about fear. Out of the life insurance guys, we are the only people who adopted sports and health to push our products. Fear as an emotion is more negative, nobody wants to talk about it. We, on the other hand, believe in living a life without limitations because it then becomes worth living for.

Any marketing learnings from 2018 which you wish to take forward this year?

Our objective for this year is to keep consolidating what we are doing. The journey is a long one and we are doing well. When we largely talk of fitness, the first thing is physical, but financial fitness is equally important. We would want to build the movement and get it going across the country.


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