Lazy money

The new ad for SBI Mutual Funds’ SBI Savings Fund (I couldn’t find the agency; presumably by FCB Ulka since they won the mandate in 2017) makes for an interesting watch for multiple reasons.

On its own, it is both entertaining and illustrative. It goes on to show, in excruciating detail, a totally lazy slob while building the mystery of why we’re being exposed to this pointless ad. At 0:42, the penny drops… and how!!

The crux: do not let your money be lazy.

The first reason why this is interesting is that this is the exact opposite—in terms of the narrative device—of a recent ad for another financial services product/company – Bestinvest, an online investment platform from the UK, as recently as May 2022!

Bestinvest’s ad, made by the creative agency Harbour Collective, focused on the inverse of SBI Savings Funds’ narrative: Make your money work hard/harder!

But they humanized the concept further by adding: Make your money work as hard as you! And to bolster the point, they showcased a couple of professions where people work grindingly hard, including an action stuntman, a news reporter braving terrible weather, and a man dressed up as a bird for a living!

The very same point, but seen from 2 different angles… how’s that for perspective!

The other reason why SBI’s ad is interesting is that this is not the first time a financial services brand is using the narrative device. To be sure, Bestinvest’s narrative is unique, but SBI’s… not so much! It’s just a different interpretation of the same idea used earlier.

For example, in April 2017, the famous ‘Mutual Funds Sahi Hai’ campaign from AMFI (famous for the generous media spending that led us all to remember it adequately, to be specific) used the same crux, in a very different, diluted way.

A year earlier, in May 2016, Britain’s Aldermore Bank used the very same thought, through the agency Delineo: ‘Get your lazy money working harder’!

In 2020, the US agency Anomaly did a terrific series of ads for the digital financial services company Ally. The idea was exactly what SBI had used too, but with a fantastic, visually engrossing twist: instead of making a person act lazy and ask us if our money too is lazy like him, Anomaly made the money itself act! Observe 🙂

If you were not bothered to sit through 30+ seconds of a slob of a man lazing around doing nothing, either on TV or on a digital channel, I’m sure you’d sit through a dollar bill performing the same lazy act! That’s a great way to elevate the narrative to a more interesting, appealing level!

There’s also another ad where they make the dollar bill do something that we only do with children, in our homes! This is a really illustrative way to ask, ‘is your money growing? 🙂

But that’s not all! Let’s go 12 years back in time, to Australia!

Australia’s RaboBank launched a campaign, made by the agency Whybin\TBWA\Tequila that used the same idea: “Don’t accept laziness from your savings”.

The device used? Showcase a person acting lazy and ask people not to accept similar laziness from your money! Oh yes, the SBI narrative!

RaboBank did a couple of print ads too, like this one:

And a digital ad too, on The Australian, extending the same concept.

So, we have covered,

  • a person acting lazy and the brand asking us if our money is as lazy too
  • people working hard and the brand asking us if our money is work as hard
  • money (dollar bill) acting lazy and the brand telling us that need not be the case

Finally, another interesting variation of the same idea, if you are wondering how else to interpret the same idea!

Think about it – how else can you depict money (or a dollar bill) in the context of ‘working hard’?

Here’s the February 2022 work by the advertising school at the University of Alabama, in a series of speculative ads for the financial cashback brand Ibotta!

Clever, eh?

I can picturise an Indian equivalent that may not go down well in the country – ‘stretch your rupee’, ‘make your rupee work harder’, or ‘make your rupee go further’ – and Mahatma Gandhi, the face of the Indian rupee, performing yoga, running, or lifting weights. Given India’s incredibly short outrage fuse, I reckon no agency or brand would even dream of something like that.

But just think about the core idea again – so many perspectives, variations, and interpretations, but the same idea at heart!



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