Is it the Right Plank?

Bajaj Al­lianz Life’s CMO is an ac­tive par­tic­i­pant in this ad.

The Brand Reporter - - EDITORIAL / CONTENTS - By Deep­ashree Ban­er­jee deep­ashree.ban­er­

For a quick re­cap of the mas­sive fit­ness wave that we wit­nessed not so long ago on so­cial me­dia, one sim­ply can’t for­get the ex­er­cise rou­tine video Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, tweeted back in May.

From crick­eter Vi­rat Kohli to Deepika Padukone and Amitabh Bachchan, top names from B-town came for­ward and gen­er­ously posted videos en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to stay fit. Pri­vate life in­surer, Bajaj Al­lianz wants to make sure that the ne­ti­zens don’t get over it too soon and they are leav­ing no stone un­turned with their new at­tempt. Fol­low­ing the launch of Bajaj Al­lianz Life Health Care Goal, a crit­i­cal-ill­ness prod­uct cov­er­ing 36 crit­i­cal ill­nesses, the com­pany un­veiled a uniquely en­gag­ing ‘#36SecPlankChal­lenge’ ini­tia­tive.


It all started with a video ask­ing view­ers to hold a plank (an ex­er­cise po­si­tion) for 36 sec­onds and chal­lenge friends to do the same, all in an ef­fort to build a health­ier world. Par­tic­i­pants/chal­lengers were to shoot a video hold­ing the po­si­tion for 36 sec­onds and up­load it on any so­cial me­dia plat­form us­ing #36SecPlankChal­lenge.

Par­tic­i­pants can tag friends or fam­ily when up­load­ing the video to chal­lenge them and each new hash­tag counts to­wards the com­pany con­tribut­ing mon­e­tar­ily to the Hru­daya - Cure a Lit­tle Heart Foun­da­tion (Hru­daya Foun­da­tion), a Hy­der­abad-based health­care or­gan­i­sa­tion ded­i­cated to­wards cur­ing heart disor­ders in de­prived chil­dren.

Saina Ne­hwal, In­dia’s golden girl of bad­minton was among the first few to take up the #36SecPlankChal­lenge. She then be­gan the chain by chal­leng­ing oth­ers within the sports fra­ter­nity. This got things go­ing, bring­ing in other celebs who tagged their peers. The com­pany is also rop­ing in celebri­ties across the en­ter­tain­ment and cor­po­rate world to am­plify the con­sumer-en­gage­ment ini­tia­tive.

The health in­sur­ance pol­icy claims to cover crit­i­cal ill­nesses in­clud­ing heart is­sues and can­cer, with an op­tion for a fam­ily cover and re­turn of pre­mium. This crit­i­cal ill­ness cover also of­fers an in­built waiver of a pre­mium rider.

So, is it an at­tempt to ride the same fit­ness wave that PM Modi started with the Fit In­dia move­ment through his Mann Ki Baat pro­gramme?

Chan­dramo­han Mehra, CMO, Bajaj Al­lianz Life In­sur­ance feels that strate­gi­cally, it widens the ini­tia­tive’s reach on the back of a celebrity’s mas­sive fol­low­ing on so­cial me­dia and it also deep­ens con­sumer en­gage­ment. And, of course, the choice of celebrity has to be rel­e­vant to the de­sired TG and the mes­sage.

Though it is en­dear­ing to see a brand’s ef­fort in ad­dress­ing such rel­e­vant is­sues (In­dia be­ing the third most obese coun­try in the world), are we miss­ing the big­ger pic­ture? Has this fit­ness trend al­ready be­come a part of an ad­ver­tiser’s man­date even be­fore they know it?

Says Mehra “I be­lieve that we have been fairly ef­fec­tive in telling sto­ries through sim­ple, in­sight-driven, yet en­gag­ing con­tent; some­thing that is atyp­i­cal of the in­sur­ance cat­e­gory. #Grave­yardOfGoals, our web series #Game­ofLifeGoals, lever­ag­ing ‘Danc­ing Un­cle’, and now #36SecPlankChal­lenge, are some of the key ini­tia­tives we rolled out re­cently and are aimed at be­ing rel­e­vant to the medium and TG.”

Dur­ing the launch on FB Live, Bajaj Al­lianz Life’s MD and CEO, Tarun Chugh also took to the plank po­si­tion for 36 sec­onds when chal­lenged by the host Aparna Popat, a 9-time na­tional Bad­minton cham­pion and an Olympian.

It is en­dear­ing to see a brand’s ef­fort in ad­dress­ing such rel­e­vant is­sues.

“The lead­er­ship team’s en­gage­ment also in­flu­ences par­tic­i­pa­tion from all stake­hold­ers.” CHAN­DRAMO­HAN MEHRA


afaqs! Re­porter asked Mehra how im­por­tant it is for the ex­ec­u­tives to stay in­volved in the whole process of pro­mot­ing the brand’s newly launched scheme.

“The lead­er­ship team’s en­gage­ment not only demon­strates a se­ri­ous com­mit­ment from the or­gan­i­sa­tion to­wards the ini­tia­tive but also in­flu­ences par­tic­i­pa­tion from all stake­hold­ers,” feels Mehra.

“In a typ­i­cal way, we could have had a Town Hall and an­nounced the prod­uct launch. But, launch­ing the prod­uct along with the en­gage­ment ini­tia­tive, through a live so­cial me­dia ses­sion, with a rel­e­vant sports per­son­al­ity, got us to con­nect with em­ploy­ees, agents, dis­tri­bu­tion part­ners, and the gen­eral pub­lic, all in one go and via a very pop­u­lar medium,” he ex­plains.


Ra­manu­jam Srid­har, CEO and founder of Brand-Comm states that in­sur­ance is one of the most dif­fi­cult cat­e­gories to ad­ver­tise for as one can’t pos­si­bly show death or ill­ness and that is what the cat­e­gory is all about. “The in­ter­est level around fit­ness was, in a way, ar­ti­fi­cially en­gi­neered into it,” he says.

One of the things go­ing for the com­mer­cial is that it ac­tu­ally urges con­sumers to do some­thing in­stead of sim­ply lec­tur­ing them or bor­ing them with sim­ple facts, fig­ures and clichés. And the peppy beat in the back­ground is the last thing we ex­pected to see in a con­ven­tional in­sur­ance film.

How­ever, the big­gest thing go­ing for the com­mer­cial lies in the fact that it sub­tly asks au­di­ences how fat they are and what they need to do keep fit. So, from that per­spec­tive, Srid­har feels that the mes­sag­ing is in line with what the brand ob­jec­tives are.

Bikram Bin­dra, vice-pres­i­dent and strate­gic plan­ning head, Grey Group - Delhi, main­tains that while it is com­mend­able that the brand is try­ing to cre­ate a move­ment of sorts and rous­ing the masses into ac­tion, the cur­rent TVC on the ini­tia­tive seems a bit con­trived.

“I would have waited in­stead, for some time for the chal­lenge con­text to plant it­self more or­gan­i­cally in the cul­ture and show­case more real de­pic­tions. Per­haps there are other ways of get­ting con­sumers to join in, start­ing with the brand cus­to­di­ans them­selves, which the brand is do­ing,” says Bin­dra.

“Also, there is a sharp func­tional ben­e­fit that Bajaj Al­lianz of­fers and there is scope to drive home that unique ben­e­fit in a more hard-hit­ting fash­ion,” he points out. ■

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