Sucheta Dalal :IndusInd Bank: ‘Idiotic’ branding
Sucheta Dalal

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IndusInd Bank: ‘Idiotic’ branding  

March 9, 2010

So, the ‘3 Idiots’ saga in Indian advertising rages on. IndusInd Bank has gone a step further and hired one of the idiots… no fun only being inspired by the story, right? The bank has released three commercials to highlight its various services such as mobile alerts, online payments and the ‘Ready2Use Savings Account kit’. And to add some zing to the proceedings, they have
high-jacked that dumb geek from ‘3 Idiots’: Chatur aka Omi Vaidya. The funny commercials feature a young couple… Vaidya and TV actor, Shruti Seth, who plays his hapless wife.


Basically each commercial involves Omi tormenting the missus in various ways. In one, he orders her around to be served. Like the typical MCP hubby. So she fetches him spectacles, newspaper, tea and so on. In another, he demands his food be cooked swiftly, he finds wifey to be a slow coach. And in the third, he messes up her mind asking moronic questions, exactly the way nerds do. And towards the end of each TVC, one of IndusInd’s features gets tied in with each situation.


Yup, the commercials are humorous. Nerdy, geeky, robotic Omi performs his role well, exactly as he did in ‘3 Idiots’. In fact, he carries the character so effortlessly, it’s almost like he simply ambled across from the film’s sets to the IndusInd ad’s sets. And as his harassed wife, Shruti Seth does a fine job too. She contrasts him well; from the very first frame you realise this partnership is headed for disaster. So humour is in-built into the commercials.


So can we safely assume all is well for IndusInd Bank, to use that most abused cliché? Er, not really. There’s a huge problem out here. Because of his compelling screen presence and berserk nerdy antics, Omi Vaidya totally steals the show. And whatever little space he leaves, is occupied by his harried bitter half. And the bank’s claims appear like statutory warnings towards the end of the commercials. Almost like those breathlessly read-out legally-stipulated warnings at the end of investment ads. In short, the geek manages to vampire the brand, full-on.


A good lesson in the perils of indulging in celebrity advertising. I would be quite surprised if in the brand recall tests, too many respondents connect IndusInd with the commercials.


Bottom-line: marketers need to watch out for the two extremes. It’s never a good idea to ram the brand name down viewers’ throats. Something Tata DOCOMO does, and that’s totally off-putting. And then on the other hand is IndusInd Bank. Which does great service to boost Omi Vaidya’s career, but loses out on its own branding in the process. Ergo, wonder who’s the real idiot out here?  Anil Thakraney


-- Sucheta Dalal