Sheran Mehra Talks About Why Chilli Paneer Is A Clutter Breaking & Innovative Campaign In BFSI

In conversation with Sheran Mehra, Head Group Strategic Marketing and Communication, DBS Bank India where she talks about the idea behind Chilli Paneer 2 and how the bank plans on taking it ahead

dbs chilli paneer 2

Last September, DBS Bank India, one of Asia’s leading financial services group embarked on a digital storytelling route to build brand awareness. It did what nobody had thought of in the Indian BFSI space - to build brand awareness through a love story!

Taking inspiration from the long format ad films that were the rage last year, DBS Bank had launched the first season of Chilli Paneer – a sweet love story of Ken Chang from Singapore and Asha Rao from Mumbai. Read “Chilli Paneer Season 2: DBS Bank Brings In Interactive Storytelling Where Viewers Become Storytellers“.

This year, the bank launched second season of Chilli Paneer marking the first-of-its kind interactive ad film in the Indian BFSI space. Viewers could chose their own version of the love story, as the film had four decision points where Ken and Asha would face a particular situation and need the viewer’s help in deciding what to do. Read “#8HappyEndings, Characters On Twitter & More: How DBS Bank Is Leveraging Social Media For Chilli Paneer 2“.

Why did a bank choose to market themselves through a love story? How was the theme of the story arrived at? How has the response been and how does DBS Bank India plan on leveraging this further? To understand all this, we spoke to Sheran Mehra – Head Group Strategic Marketing and Communication, DBS Bank India. Given below are the email responses:

1.Most of the banks in India are investing time in bringing their offline services to social media such as Kotak Jifi and ICICI building the ICICI Bank Pay. However DBS India has adopted the story telling route on digital since last year, what has been the brand’s thought process in doing this.

Chilli Paneer is clutter breaking & innovative campaign - a paradigm shift from how typical campaigns in BFSI segments have been. The strategic approach was to present DBS Bank as an enabler, a trusted partner. This was the first time in banking history such an effort has been made to engage and create conversations with consumers. We initially followed chatters online to know the popular themes and ‘food’ emerged as the most talked about topic that cuts across geographies, sectors and demographies. Marrying food with Bollywood the brand embarked upon the journey of being a part of the consumers conversations and engaging with them through the story- telling format.

2. In DBS Chilli Paneer Season 2, the film has evolved from season 1. How do you see this and what have been the learning’s from the first season that have been incorporated to this season.

Through Chilli Paneer 1 the brand created conversations and to take this conversation to the next level and interact with the consumers, season 2 was launched. ‘Food’ continued to remain the central theme of the campaign in Chilli Paneer 2.  Chilli Paneer 1 was well appreciated as the brand played the role of an enabler in the story and the product was seamlessly integrated in the storyline. This conversational approach was carried forward on season 2.

3. Last season the film had various episodes and this time we have interactive video, the highlight of the campaign. Your thoughts?

Chilli Paneer 1 kept the audience waiting to know what is happening next in the lives of Ken & Asha. Its format allowed us to keep engaging with viewers with fresh content being pushed every week, where as in season 2 we allowed the consumer to be a part of the story himself. It allows viewers to play the sous chef to the film and design their own version of the story. The intent was to engage and interact with the viewers and thus drive engagements with them.

4. Social media has been used to support the story in the season 2. Your thoughts and how has the social media implementation evolved from season one to the latest one.

Through season 1 a buzz about Chilli Paneer was already created and viewers were keen to know ‘what next’ with Ken and Asha. We effectively used the user generated content through social media that contributed in shaping the story line of Chilli Paneer 2. This in effect made the viewer the protagonist and decide the flow of the story, creating curiosity and excitement among viewers.

5. On ground activation at restaurants and then connecting it with digital was a key feature in season one, in season two we saw that missing. Your thoughts on it.

On ground activation was very much a part of Chilli Paneer 2, which was plugged in and amplified on the digital platform. We tied up with restaurants and engaged with the consumers on a one-on-one basis.

Sheran Mehra DBS Bank6. How are you measuring the campaign’s ROI with the objective for the Season 2. How successful was season one and do you think story telling is appealing to the netizens of the country.

This was the first time in banking history such an effort has been made to engage and create conversations than mere broadcast of marketing messages.  For us, ROI was not only about the encouraging numbers, likes, shares and views but also the rich engagement the campaign generated with over half a million unique visitors to the site. The positive buzz and awards and accolades from the leading industry bodies, only reaffirms our belief in leveraging the power of digital medium with innovative content.

7. We are at the start of 2015 and season 2 has already created a benchmark in the industry by bringing in video interactivity. How do you plan to carry this momentum going further.

With Chilli Paneer 1&2 we have created a niche for ourselves. As a brand we lay a lot of importance on innovation and have recently launched an educative initiative called ACT (Action Against Cyber Theft), in an attempt to create awareness among consumers about cyber theft in a never seen before format. This long term initiative engages with consumers at multiple touch points – TV, Print, outdoor, radio and digital thus creating awareness among consumers about steps one must take to safeguard their wealth in this digital world.