How Ageas Federal Life Insurance combines AI with celebrity brand power in ads

In an exclusive interview with BestMediaInfo, Erum Kidwai, SVP and Head of Marketing at Ageas Federal Life Insurance, throws light on the brand’s AI-led ad campaigns. He also highlighted common pitfalls brands encounter when leveraging brand ambassadors

Archana Raj
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Ageas Federal Life Insurance

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Delhi: Certain brands fail to recognise the power of brand ambassadors and consequently underutilise them, said Erum Kidwai, Senior Vice President and Head of Marketing of Ageas Federal Life Insurance, highlighting a crucial mistake brands make while using celebrities in ads. 

The essence of brand and celebrity collaborations lies in creating a genuine connection between the celeb’s personality and the brand. “Yet, some brands overlook this aspect, failing to fully leverage the celebrity's presence,” he said. 

Pointing out that it's not enough to just pick someone famous, he said, "One cannot simply opt for a popular figure, especially if they lack alignment with the brand." 

The brand has been utilising artificial intelligence in its advertising creativity ever since partnering with Tendulkar, whether it's for the 'Be Young Sachin' campaign, 'The Boy Who Dreamed' campaign, 'SachinVerse' campaign, or the latest ‘Cradle to Crease’ ad.

Tendulkar has been associated with the brand for the past 13 years. Ageas Federal Life Insurance unveiled its new identity from the erstwhile IDBI Federal Life Insurance in 2021. The name followed Belgium-based Ageas Insurance International NV increasing its shareholding to 49% by acquiring 23% of the stake from IDBI Bank. Federal Bank holds a stake of 26% in the company while IDBI Bank's stood at 25%. Ageas Federal Life Insurance then became the first Indian life insurer to have 74% foreign shareholding following the exit of IDBI Bank which sold its entire 25% stake to Ageas Insurance International NV in September 2022.

In its latest film titled 'Cradle to Crease,' which features Tendulkar walking through the tunnel of life as he reaches the pitch, the brand's creative agency VML India created a hyper-realistic rendition of Sachin at age 16 to recreate the moment of his international debut.

The latest ad film:

Mukund Olety, CCO VML, said, “With the power of Gen-AI, we’ve told a story that could not have been told five years ago. We are constantly pushing boundaries and using technology to make storytelling richer and better. We’re sure seeing Sachin walk up to his debut will inspire a lot of parents to plan better.”

The latest campaign drives home the message that while the future might be exciting, evolving, and uncertain, by focusing on financial planning and investing in life insurance, one can face the future with optimism, hope, and confidence. The campaign sheds light on the significance of early financial planning for parents through the lens of Sachin Tendulkar’s debut.

The insurance company’s previous AI-led ‘Sachinverse’ campaign put forth an optimistic vision of the future. In the campaign, Tendulkar highlighted how technology will deeply disrupt every aspect of life, from education to social interaction to mobility to household chores and even cricket.

The Sachinverse campaign:

In a virtual ‘Sachinverse’, the different avatars of Sachin Tendulkar took viewers through various scenarios, including a virtual cricket stadium, onion-chopping robots, holographic cafes, and a driverless car, all rendered in a mix of animation styles.

Before the Sachinverse campaign, it used deepfake to show the younger 11-year-old version of Tendulkar in an ad.

The brand’s ‘Dreams’ campaign was aimed at inspiring parents to recognise their child’s unique dreams. With the help of VFX and various animated storytelling tools, the campaign film helps to bring the young kid’s dreams to life. 

Kidwai said, “We are proud to be the first brand in the BFSI sector in India to integrate Gen AI and Deep Fake positively to educate audiences about the necessity of life insurance in a way that is relatable to today’s tech-savvy audience. These campaigns also ensure that they appeal to the entire spectrum of our target audience from all age groups.

He further mentioned that marketers must rigorously test AI-generated content while respecting consumer privacy and ethical guidelines. Introducing convenient communication channels like WhatsApp Service and Email Bot enhances customer interaction and continuous monitoring of ad placements using AI-driven tools, ensures alignment with brand values, and minimises exposure to problematic content, he further emphasised. 

Having said that, Kidwai emphasised the necessity of adhering to AI regulations once they are in place, even if it requires adjusting brand communication preferences. 

He also alerted to the fact that, with the human tendency to drive to exploit opportunities, numerous pieces of information emerging and ongoing AI integrations, he underscored the urgent need for regulations to ensure ethical practices and prevent potential misconduct. 

All the above ad films align with the brand’s larger proposition, #FutureFearless. 

Kidwai explained that the primary goal of the campaign is to encourage people to be fearless in the face of the future and consider life insurance as a means of financial security.

The media plan for the 'Cradle to Crease’ campaign 

With the recently launched campaign, Ageas Federal Life Insurance, for the first time, adopted a media mix of both online and offline channels to maximise engagement. In addition to strategically allocating resources towards digital spending and on platforms like social media and OTT platforms, the ad is also being promoted on OOH. 

The campaign will be amplified across social media platforms, including sports, news, and finance channels, and OOH and digital OOH across six cities, including Mumbai, Delhi NCR, Kolkata, and Kerala (Cochin, Kottayam, and Trivandrum).

Additionally, the brand has partnered with Cafe Coffee Day for OOH, contributing to its media mix.

According to Kidwai, despite the conventional approach to the media mix, digital media will always remain at the forefront of Ageas's media plan. Kidwai stated, “About 60 to 70% of our media budgets go into digital media.” 

When discussing the presence of the campaign in major properties like the IPL and the General Election, taking an interesting approach, Kidwai said that while elections and the IPL are huge events with a multi-brand presence, it only lasts for a short period. 

"IPL, according to us, and even elections give a fantastic opportunity to showcase the brand, but only for a limited period. We are a two-and-a-half-year-old young brand, and we need some people to remember us and keep on associating Ageas Federal with life insurance, prudent financial planning, and being fearless for the entire year. That's the reason we go for the standard campaign. We don't usually use the bigger plan,” he added.

Crafting unique brand identities in the insurance industry

Today, just having insurance isn’t enough to set a company apart, says Kidwai. In the past, companies tried to be different by offering special features in their insurance plans. But now, most companies have similar offerings. So, customers don’t notice these small differences anymore.

Kidwai underscores two differentiators for augmenting brand awareness and recall:

Customer service:  

Customer service emerges as a primary differentiator, according to Kidwai. "When we speak of service, technology plays a pivotal role in tailoring the customer experience, accessed through their chosen medium and available when needed," Kidwai emphasised. 

In today's digital age, customers demand the convenience of managing their policies online rather than visiting physical branches or waiting for callbacks, he added.

Expanding on this, he said that technological advancements like AI have revolutionised customer interactions and feedback mechanisms. Media planning, campaign strategies, and customer engagement initiatives have also been enhanced through AI-driven insights, he added.

Strategic positioning: 

Kidwai underscored the importance of strategic positioning in setting the insurance brand apart.

At Ageas, Kidwai mentioned, “We prioritise innovative approaches to stand out amidst the competition.” 

For example, he mentioned, “Our personalised premium reminders featuring Sachin Tendulkar exemplify customer-centric communication by incorporating personalised videos into our communication strategy to establish a more meaningful connection with our customers.”

Ageas Federal Life Insurence