Sucheta Dalal :Max New York Life: Going idiotic
Sucheta Dalal

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Max New York Life: Going idiotic  

March 2, 2010

So, investment companies are busy using all sorts of tools to get you to loosen your purse strings. Fear, humour, tears, you name it. Max New York Life has decided to go ‘idiotic’ in its new campaign. They’ve done the fashionable thing these days: copy the ‘3 Idiots’ formula for its 'igenius' programme.


Here’s the deal: 'igenius' will look after children whose interests lie in offbeat professions. Careers that desi parents usually frown upon. Painting, of course, tops that chart. Not just that. Max New York Life shall also play the role of a Good Samaritan in the parent-child relationship. They will be an ‘agony aunt’ and not just a business partner. Quite obviously, the idea is to get bonded with the investor. With the hope that these agony aunty efforts will result in generating long-term goodwill.


Reportedly, the programme involves scholarships for the kids. And also arranging for events/activities like sports. And 'igenius parenting' to keep the dialogue going with harried parents through help-lines and other media.   


In keeping with this spirit, Max New York Life has launched its ‘Shiksha Plus’ child plan with three commercials. Which basically, as you can imagine, involve stories of worried parents wanting their kids to pursue the usual careers, while the child’s interests lie elsewhere (the ‘3 Idiots’ saga). One features a drawing room situation where the parents argue over the routine career options for their kid, who, while looking disappointed, announces that painting is what gets him going. (What’s with painting being always used as a losers’ profession? Qatari citizen MF Husain would be saddened). Well, the commercials are pretty routine and boring (not in sync with offbeat careers). So not much to speak of there.


However, the idea of building relationships with parents is an interesting one. If Max New York Life can pull it off, it will have pushed the investment marketing envelope a bit further. Long-term associations such as these are what marketers dream of in these competitive times. Plus, who knows, in the process the corporate may even help further a child’s career, so all is apparently well.


But here’s the big concern: How will Max New York Life make this programme work with parents from across the nation, across various socio-economic strata? Seems impossible to execute, as it would turn out to be a logistically nightmarish exercise, not to mention the costs that it would suck up. Which means the programme will most likely reduce itself to serving only a few thousand urban households, and not much else. In short, a cosmetic exercise, which would perhaps build the brand itself, but show poor results on the ground.


I suppose once the ‘3 Idiots’ hysteria dies down, and another new happening flick comes along, igenius will find another brand building tool. Karo zyaada promises ka iraada. — Anil Thakraney


-- Sucheta Dalal