SBI Life’s Real Life Real Stories

SBI Life should move beyond mere conversations, find an effective brand purpose for its ongoing real-life real stories campaign

Suyash Jadhav SBI Life Real LIfe Real Stories

Bengalis spend the first half of the year preparing for the Durga Puja or the Durgotsava and the next half asking when is pujo next year. Like my fellow Bengali friends, I also wait for this festival. The joy of visiting different pandals, watching the beautiful goddess dressed up who is visiting her natal home with her kids, tasting the local delicacies and above all witnessing the pujo smile on all Bengalis.

I am fortunate for years I have been part of this festival and cherished the happy pujo smiles. But how is a visually impaired person enjoying the festival? How is she part of this festival? Is she enjoying the festivity or left alone in her world? I can’t imagine but Debojyoti Roy, Secretary, National Institute of Professionals decided to do something rather than just pondering for the visually impaired people in Kolkatta.

He and a group of like-minded people got together, started an organisation to help the visually challenged people. Gradually working with them they understood that they independently fail to be a part of the Durga Puja. So the team came up with an idea of Braille Durga Pujo Guide - a handbook listing every detail of 300 big pujas in Kolkatta and how a visually challenged person can enjoy the puja on her own.

“Maa Durga has ten hands but we only have two hands and we are trying our best to help the visually challenged people,” says Debojyoti in the below video.

In 2018 SBI Life Insurance had launched the real life stories video under its ongoing mainline campaign #MainSeHum. The video was the brand’s digital extension to showcase the inspirational stories of common people to connect with the youth of the country. Back then this was a commonly followed trend by almost all brands.

With the onset of new trends, most brands lapped on to the new one but SBI Life has continued its journey to find out real-life inspiring stories from every corner of India and keep sharing at different junctures.

For instance, meet the real-life Santa Murugan Theruvoram, an auto driver along with her wife, has dedicated his life in helping the homeless, elderly and orphaned. Today Murugan’s NGO is actively involved in 17 districts of Kerala with a selfless mission of building a society that cares for people and progresses in life with love and empathy. The inspiring video was shared during Christmas last year.

Similarly, during Independence Day, SBI Life shared the real-life inspiring story of the Indian Para swimmer, Suyash Jadhav, who redefines independence, commitment, and dedication.

At 11 Suyash lost his upper limbs, at 25 he won gold for India at the Asian Para Games 2018 and today he dreams to win a gold for India at the Paralympics. The video ends with the brand saluting the spirit, commitment, and dedication of all the athletes who make India proud.

On YouTube, the brand has made a playlist that is a collection of all these inspiring stories from 2018. It is commendable to see a brand keeping its belief in storytelling and continuously delivering throughout the year.

But is SBI Life doing enough?

The trend to share real-life stories on digital started a few years ago with an insight that no one wants to watch a bad ad on social media. Social media is a private space and bad ads started fading so the next move was to bring real-life inspiring stories so that people connect with, share it in their network and thereby the brand gets an opportunity to be a part of the conversation.

The attempt did show results but later we tried force-fitting real-life stories everywhere just because it was cool and was working for my competitor. These were also the days when the brand always wanted to be the initiator of a conversation and play aside role. Because the majority of brands were riding behind the wave of engagement.

But times are changing and the new India wants brands to take a stand rather than hiding behind the logo.

“Purpose-driven marketing is really the flavor of the season. Also, young people seem to want to get after brands that believe in something. A lot of brands are having conversations or trying to understand young people. And with the help of these insights, we can help brands to understand the youth better,” said Viacom18, Youth, Music and English Entertainment, Head of Marketing - Navin Shenoy.

MTV Insights Studio recently unveiled an extensive study – Mera Bharat Amazeballs – which offered an insight into the mindset and behavior of India’s youth.

In 2019, Edelman’s research revealed that 64% of consumers are belief-driven buyers who want brands to deliver on societal issues, as well as products.

Being an active brand with purpose

The ongoing initiative of real-life inspiring stories is encouraging but other than saluting or sharing these real-life stories what is the brand doing. Is the brand supporting the organisations or initiatives that the likes of Murugan have created? If yes then how is the brand doing and why is it not highlighting.

Additionally, the brand website talks about the latest campaign with just a visual of ‘Apno ki #HimmatWaliSeeti’ but there is no mention of the real-life inspiring stories(some of the videos are shown as ads). The problem is with the mindset that websites are only for corporate glory and the listing of products or services. True that is one of the purposes but the larger purpose today is to show what is the brand vision, and how is it making a difference in the society against.

The life insurance market in India has valued at INR 4,185 Bn in FY 2017 and is likely to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of ~11.6% during FY 2018 to FY 2023. The Indian life insurance sector offers around 360 million policies, which is the largest number of policies offered by any insurance sector globally.

Every player in the life insurance market is selling almost the same policy with return assurances. So in a competitive market like this how do you differentiate?

There are two options for SBI Life - one keep continuing the inspiring stories and release them as topical content. Tell a beautiful story, burn media money, get engagement and move ahead.

The second route is to take a step back, think about how it can make this initiative into a larger thought process and thereby be an active brand.

It’s time for the country’s second-largest life insurance brand to move beyond just being part of the conversations.