Axis MF's campaign takes the high ground of being a 'responsible' brand

Screengrab of Axis Mutual Fund's new television commercial
Whatever is your definition of extreme risk, an encounter with a tiger is quite likely to fit well. But what if there is someone to guide you through the forest with a tested, out-of-the box strategy to keep the beast at bay? Still risky but it might still nudge you enough to step into your jackboots and march through the jungle.

That’s exactly what Bijoy-da, a tourist guide in Axis Mutual Fund (AMF’s)’s new television commercial, is doing. The company hopes the protagonist in its new campaign will embody the message the brand wants to send out — that AMF is “a responsible mutual fund” in the cluttered Indian MF market represented by more than 40 big and small players.

Launched last week, the film takes the viewer to a picturesque location where the experienced jungle tourist guide, accompanying a family, is entering the wild with the possible presence of man-eating tigers with a tendency to attack from the behind. Bijoy-da knows how this risk is to be managed as we see each family member donning human masks at the back of their heads because, as he knows well, tigers don’t attack looking into the eyes for the victim and hence the possibility of a tiger attacking from the back is nullified.

While the name of the forest is not disclosed through any signage or the voiceover, the name that naturally comes to mind is the Sundarbans. With his believable performance and a Bengali name adding the regional touch, the tourist guide looks the part — more real than fictional. Except that neither of this is true.

Rohan Padhye, vice-president, AMF, says the idea was to establish Sunderbans and even shoot there but owing to certain constraints — the rising water levels during the monsoon being the prime one — the team had to change the plan and shoot it in Vietnam. This perhaps escalated the budget which is estimated to be around Rs 60-80 million. The actor is a theatre artist from Kolkata who was cast after a thorough scouting.

Coming back to the theme of responsible MF, Pandhye acknowledges the role played by the Association of Mutual Funds in India campaign Mutual Fund Sahi Hai in creating awareness and adds the firm’s aims to build a distinct brand identity. “The end consumer knows that if he invests in mutual funds, it would give him better returns but the perception that it is risky is deep rooted. That would go away not when we promise fancy or unrealistic returns but when we assure them that their money is in safe hands, is being handled responsibly,” he says.

In the Rs 25 trillion MF industry which has been growing at 20-25 per cent annually for the past few years, AMF is the 10th largest company in terms of assets under management and holds a market share of three to four per cent according to Padhye. It has now set its sights on increasing the market share and while Pandhye doesn’t comment on the position it is trying to secure or the targeted percentage, he says the aim is to grow at a pace that is higher than the industry average, which itself is robust because of the low base effect.

Navin Talreja, founder of The Womb, the ad agency behind the campaign, provides some insights into the company’s projections: “We were tasked with making a campaign that would help AMF climb to the number three slot from the tenth position.”