The HSBC Advance campaign for the so-called relationship banking tool, moves too fast to capture the joys of life’s progress
HSBC has launched 'HSBC Advance', the so-called relationship banking tool which targets the urban, young, loaded consumers. 'Who could you be tomorrow?' is the punch line. It apparently tries to appeal to the desperation of the new young to surge forward in life. And HSBC Advance promises to be the bank that looks after that booming dream of youngsters.
I watched two commercials on air that promote this idea. In one, a young man transforms from being single, to getting married, to becoming a daddy. And this megamorphosis is rendered in swift transitions (to bring out the 'can't wait' spirit of today's gen). The voice over reassures: "When your whole world changes, HSBC Advance can help your financial plans change too." In another one, the same thing happens. Here, a young suit goes from a lunch break to a career break. And of course, the promise that HSBC is right behind you to support your various breaks.
I know this is a part of HSBC's global campaign, but I have some serious issues with this work. On the first level, the strategic thought behind the communication: Relationship banking is the new buzz not just in the banking sector but in most financial services ads, including insurance and broking. It's such an abused concept, it now carries very little interest and credibility. In other words, it is not really a sound strategy to adopt any more. Two, even if the HSBC guys couldn't think of another route, the creative had to be unique and earth-shattering if the concept had to work. Sadly, the campaign falls flat in this regard as well. While the rapid life transition denotes speed, the whole story moves so fast, there's zero space left to capture the joys and emotions associated with life's progress. This treatment looks more like a lab experiment rather than a life situation. In short, the gimmicky stuff totally kills whatever possibility there was of making the ad breathe and strike a chord.
Finally, here's a warning for all financial services companies, and particularly for HSBC, who, I unfortunately bank with. Please get your product sorted out before you make 'relationship' promises to consumers. That's the fundamental principle of all marketing. Nothing kills a bad product faster than advertising. Are your staffers trained and skilled to deal with your fancy promises? Are their objectives in sync with the communication objectives of your organisation? I have always had the worst experiences with HSBC across their branches and cities. The staff is often demotivated, disorganised, disinterested and disdainful.
I don't know who I can be tomorrow. But right now, I am furious.
The market is likely to witness a tepid opening on the back of mixed cues from the global markets. Wall Street closed with modest gains overnight with two of the three indices settling in the green on positive economic data. On the other hand, the Asian markets were mostly down in early trade on Friday on renewed concerns over the debt crisis in Europe and on speculations that China will raise rates this weekend to curb inflation and growth. The SGX Nifty was down 14 points at 5,778 against its previous close of 5,792 on Thursday.
The market opened with minor gains yesterday, but profit-taking in early trade sent the key indices into the red. A recovery followed soon, lifting the market higher. However, choppy trade and another bout of selling added to the market's woes. A rise in weekly food inflation numbers also added to the pressure. Mid-cap and small-cap stocks continued to be a drag for the fifth day in a row. The losses widened in the post-noon session sending the indices further southwards. Finally, the Sensex tumbled 454.12 points (2.31%) lower to close at 19,242.36 while the Nifty declined 137.20 points (2.32%) at 5,766.50.
The US markets closed with modest gains overnight with two of the three key indices ending higher on good economic news. Investors kept a watch on the bond market following slumping demand there in recent days that prompted sharp gains in bond yields. In economic news, initial unemployment claims fell higher-than-expected last week, but the previous week's figures were revised slightly upward. Besides, inventories of US wholesalers rose more-than-expected in October, while fast-growing sales also signalled some underlying support for the economy.
The Dow declined 2.42 points (0.02%) to 11,370.06. The S&P 500 Index .SPX added 4.72 points (0.38%) to 1,233.00. The Nasdaq gained 7.51 points (0.29%) to 2,616.67.
Markets in Asia were mostly down on Friday as concerns regarding the rate hike by the Chinese government to curb inflation spooked investors across the region. A downward revision in Ireland’s credit rating by three notches by Fitch after the Eurozone member sought international aid also added to the fears.
The Hang Seng was down 0.29%, the Jakarta Composite tanked 1.10%, the KLSE Composite shed 0.10%, the Nikkei 225 lost 0.43%, the Straits Times declined 0.79%, the Seoul Composite was down 0.19% and the Taiwan Weighted lost 0.33%. Bucking the trend, the Shanghai Composite was up 0.06% in early trade. The SGX Nifty was down 14 points at 5,778 against its previous close of 5,792 on Thursday.
With credit demand picking up and liquidity crunch yet to ease, bankers are expecting a cut in key policy ratio—Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR)—by 1% in the mid-term monetary policy review by RBI, a top bank official said.
The mid-term monetary policy review is due on 16th December. Lowering CRR, the amount of funds banks have to keep with RBI, by one per cent is projected to infuse Rs50,000-Rs60,000 crore into the economy.
The Tata group chief has replied to the open letter written by promoter of BPL Mobile and Rajya Sabha MP in a very hard-hitting manner, something unheard of from the group. But in the end, Mr Tata has also pulled the BJP-led NDA regime into the 2G spectrum allocation controversy
Industrialist Rata Tata has in a hard-hitting response said that the open letter written by Rajeev Chandrashekhar, member of parliament (MP), is nothing but the current trend of attempted character assassination through widespread media publicity, couched in pain and concern for upholding ethics and values. The reply by Mr Tata and a counter-reply by Mr Chandrashekhar has ignited a new public debate that everyone, including the media, is keenly watching.
In a letter (a copy of which is with Moneylife), Mr Tata said," Your (Mr Chandrashekhar's) letter is based on untruths and distortion of facts and l feel compelled to place the real facts, as bluntly as possible before you. l hope this will also be broadly disseminated to the same audience as your letter. l am of course well aware that some media houses will choose not to publish or air my response in deference of their owners, who are the real gainers in the telecom sector, with whom you have unfortunately aligned to provide a massive diversion of attention away from the real culprits in the telecom space."
"Your (Mr Chandrashekhar) affiliation with a particular political party is well known and it appears that their political aspirations and their endeavour to embarrass the Prime Minister and the ruling party may well have been the motivation behind your letter and the insinuations which you make," the Tata group chairman said in the letter.
He further said Mr Chandrashekhar approached him to sign an appeal to the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, then deputy prime minister Lal Krishna Advani and then finance minister Jaswant Singh, not to allow fixed mobile service providers to provide mobile services. Mr Tata said," l am also enclosing a copy of my letter to Mr Vajpayee dated 12 January 2001, in which l advocated an open, transparent process giving all parties a chance to be heard-a stance that I have not changed till date. This had angered you and the other operators who were not interested in a level playing field and lobbied aggressively through COAI to ensure that a technologically agnostic environment would not come to pass." (COAI stands for Cellular Operators Association of India.)
In his reply today to Mr Tata's letter, Mr Chandrashekhar said, "I am only disappointed, but no longer surprised, that in sharp contrast to my efforts to go out of the way to keep this debate relating to facts and policy discussions-your letter is intensely personal, attributes feeble motives (including amusing political ones) and is most unbecoming of the House of Tatas. I can only think that this is a lapse in good judgment. I particularly find your self-appointed defence of the Prime Minister and Government very irrelevant."
The whole episode of allegations and counter-allegations erupted when the Niira Radia tapes were leaked and published by sections of the media. In some tapes, it is reported that Mr Tata was discussing some issues with Ms Radia, who is known as a lobbyist. Incidentally, it is Ms Radia's firm, Vaishnavi Corporate Communications, which handles all public relations (PR) for the Tata group.
Defending the decision to appoint an external agency as PR service provider, Mr Tata said that about 10 years ago the group was under attack in a media campaign to defame its ethics and value systems and it was instituted and sustained through an unholy nexus between certain corporates and the media through selected journalists.
"As Tatas did not enjoy any such 'captive connections' in this environment, the Tata Group had no option but to seek an external agency focused at projecting its point of view in the media and countering the misinformation and vested interest viewpoints which were being expressed. Vaishnavi was commissioned for this purpose and has operated effectively since 2001," the Tata group chief said.
Calling the present situation in the telecom industry and political scenario as a "smokescreen", Mr Tata said, "When the present sensational smokescreen dies down, as it will, and the true facts emerge, it will be for the people of India to determine who are the culprits that enjoy political patronage and protection and who actually subvert policy and who have dual standards. I can hold my head high and say that neither the Tata Group nor l have at any time been involved in any of these misdeeds."
"The selective reporting and your (Mr Chandrashekhar's) own selective focus appear to be diversionary actions to deflect attention away from the real issue which plagues the telecom industry, in the interest of a few powerful politically connected operators. Perhaps it is time that you (Mr Chandrashekhar) and members of the media do some introspection and soul searching as to whether you (Mr Chandrashekhar) have been serving your masters or serving the general public at large," the Tata group chairman added.
Click here to see the letter written by Mr Ratan Tata to Mr Rajeev Chandrashekhar.