Percept in the News

“A Video Is Always a Great Medium for Weaving a Story” ~ Amitabha Lahiri, CEO, MASH
16 April, 2018

Kapil Mudholkar, Editor, The Hash Mag, got into an exclusive interaction with Mr. Amitabha Lahiri, Chief Executive Officer, MASH Advertising, to know more about their business, roadmap and their recent work on PNB Housing for which they won FICCI BAF Award. 

Please tell us more about your business. 
MASH started its journey as a True-blue ATL agency for all its clients. But with the passage of time and the addition of greying hairlines (which I suspect is a symbol of soaring experience), I realised that we need to fine-tune our product offering. So today our Mantra is “Don’t say No to Nothing” to all our clients. They are hungry for business solutions and their business is yours as long as you cater to that hunger.  
You recently won the prestigious GOLD at the FICCI BAF Awards 2018 for PNB Housing Finance Ltd. Please tell us more about it and your work for PNB.
PNB Housing is a mortgage Finance company. The fastest growing and currently the 5th largest in the country. Incidentally, the entire BFSI category is typically not much differentiated in nature as per the law of the land. So the interest rates or the loan eligibility etc. are pretty similar across brands. Also, PNB Housing was a late entrant in its communication journey. As late as 2015. That made our task unenviably challenging. We needed a genuine insight. Hence we created a unique insight that worked as the corner stone of the campaign.
“In the kingdom of Mother Nature, there is NO provision of a rented accommodation.”
Only one species and that too the most exalted of them all i.e. the human beings flout this rule. Only human beings live in rented accommodations. The solution is simple. Take a home loan from PNB Housing and live peacefully in the kingdom of Mother Nature.
You have been recognized in the international category for ‘Best Commercial of the Year”. What kind of approach did you take to execute the entire campaign?
Then came the second phase (the current ongoing campaign). We wanted to take the same genre of Magic Realism forward as an execution style. But there was a new twist in the tale. Since we wanted to go one step beyond by highlighting the pain points of a tenant. 
This was a series of three short 20 seconder films. And in each, the situation was extremely relatable. For instance, the film that won the award was about the Penguin couple that was missing a balcony view very badly.  Mrs. Penguin climbs up the assorted ladder to get a glimpse of the outside world.  Then comes the solution part. Home Loan from PNB Housing. And bingo! We find the happy Penguin couple cozying up in a beautiful balcony.
In one of the other two TVCs, we see an elephant father-son duo. The baby elephant kicks a football. It goes and hits a pair of woodpeckers. Unfortunately, they also were the landlords. So they flaunt the agreement “No playing within the premises.”  The father elephant looks distinctly sheepish and hapless. Cut to: “Home loans from PNB Housing”. Now we see the baby elephant gleefully kicking the ball in the vast expanse of his own home accompanied by his palpably happy dad.
The third one is about a bunch of young and upbeat Chimpanzees enjoying a “Wild Night Out”. Suddenly the visibly upset landlord (that too an oversized Grizzly Bear) reminded them of the “No Party after 9 pm” rule of the tenancy.
So there are three different stations in a tenant’s life with three different sets of hurdles. And the solution is common. Take a loan from PNB housing.     
You have a wide portfolio of clientele from different verticals. What drives to deliver the unique offering to each of these verticals?
I believed in keeping it simple. Actually, all successful communications have historically been very simple to comprehend. The Consumers are a very busy lot. They simply don’t have the energy to decode a layered communication. And if one may notice that the Category Leaders in almost all categories have followed this Mantra.
According to you, which vertical is more open to creative ideas and offers better creativity approach?
I believe all verticals are today hungry for meaningful solutions. And it will be unfair to single out a specific one.
Today, videos have become an integral part of the marketing campaigns. How do you see this development and what’s your view on this?
This will increasingly be the trend to watch out for. And there are specific reasons for that. India, in particular, has always been inclined to the Art of Storytelling. We are brought up with a copious dosage of Stories. It all started with our Grandmas and our Mothers. As a country, we love to narrate and we love to listen to stories too. So if you visit a college canteen or a crowded public transport, then you will typically come across a few good story tellers who have grabbed the attention of a few eager listeners. Unlike most other countries where people love to travel in silence.
And a video is always a great medium for weaving a story. It lends itself beautifully to that form of art. Nowadays the emerging picture looks even more exciting with the floodgate of content platforms opening. It is no longer confined to the idiot box in our bedrooms. 
For PNB, you focus had been on human emotions and expressions. Would like to know the rationale behind it?
Human emotion is what drives a story. It is as simple as “Once upon a time there was a king & there was a queen…!” and the little kid will invariably ask “And what happened next?” The story starts unfolding. If you may notice that all our epics like the Mahabharata, Ramayana etc. are woven around human emotions. All fairy tales are.  We also are pretty much like that little kid. We want to hear a simple story that we can connect with easily. Human emotion is the best thread that can help us garland a story beautifully. 
Do you think animated stories offer better connect with the audience?
There is some serious learning from Hollywood. Some of their best box-office grossers have been animated films. The best part is that it cuts across Geo-cultural boundaries. It knows no age barriers either. Unfortunately in, India things are still in a nascent stage so far as animation films are concerned.
There is now an outstanding talent pool available in India. Hollywood is outsourcing its work regularly form our country. But advertisers need to take cognisance of the true potential of this category.
What’s your roadmap ahead? 
Every diehard advertising pro normally nurses two dreams after a few decades (considering of course that he/she has been able to survive a few decades).
Dream #1: That ONE campaign that my fellow mates will simply hate to love. It will have that Midas touch that will turn everything into Gold (only metaphorically. I am otherwise aware that the Govt. authorities keep an anxious vigil on the yellow metal these days.)
Dream #2: Stay Hungry. Stay foolish. Hungry in the very physical sense. Hunger for wealth creation. Hunger for value creation.  After all, the author of this quote famously created the most valued company and brand in the world - Apple.
Being foolish is a prerequisite of a creative mind. Unabashed and unprejudiced about the worldly doctrines. That makes fools great storytellers. Stories about human emotions. In a common man’s parlance, it is called great Advertising.