Creating treasure (and trust) out of trash
There’s a new ad film out. It marks Shweta Bachchan Nanda’s small screen debut as the daughter of a middle, middle-class Amitabh Bachchan, purportedly a retired government employee in semi-urban India. The film starts with the two getting out of an auto-rickshaw in front of ‘Cooperative Society Bank’, and entering the bank to the usual public sector chaos. The stereotypically-rude employee at the first counter tosses back their passbook and snarls them to Counter 4. Mister 4, in a mud-brown bush shirt, can’t help either and sends them packing to the manager. Neither the daughter’s ifs and buts nor her carefully-coloured, light brown tresses (meticulously matched with her salwar-kurta) move him.
And so the two end up with the manager, who is most surprised to find them talking about ‘Papa’s pension’. Because from what he can see in the passbook, the money’s already been paid. “That’s the problem. It’s been paid twice, and papa wants to return it,” says the daughter. “Why? It’s a tedious process. And who will know?” grins the manager. “I will know. Whether others get to know or not, wrong is wrong,” intones Papa B, wiping the grin off the manager’s face.
So what’s being advertised here, and why, you may ask. Well, the campaign is by Kerala-based Kalyan Jewellers. And the commodity being marketed is Trust. Because, as the voiceover at the end of the film says, “Where there are principles, there’s trust. And trust is everything.”
Ad agency L&K Saatchi & Saatchi, which has made the film, says it wants to reiterate that trust doesn’t mean being honest only when people are watching; it’s about a deep-rooted sense of right and wrong. That sounds high-faultingly noble but pointless till you remember the environment that Kalyan operates in. Trust, which is the backbone of the jewellery market, has gone into hiding in India along with diamantaire Nirav Modi, uncle Mehul Choksi and Rs 11,000 crore. And they weren’t the sector’s first runaways. Winsome Diamonds’ billionaire owner Jatin Mehta was the original glitter goon. Owing Rs 6,500 crore to a clutch of banks, he fled the country in 2016 after getting citizenship of Saint Kitts & Nevis (a Caribbean country that India doesn’t have an extradition treaty with).
You see the pattern? Those jewellers owe the bank money; Kalyan’s honest man owes the bank money. But unlike those poster boys of bad loans, this man wants to pay back what’s not his. For that is the ‘Kalyan way’. Crediting its success to its clients’ faith in it, the jeweller has launched many ads previously with trust woven into the storyline.
Rarely has the message been this direct though. And why not? What better way to turn a rival’s trash into treasure? They say breaking someone’s trust is like crumpling up a perfect piece of paper. You can smooth it over but it’s never going to be the same again. Having created its perfect piece of paper, Kalyan cleverly reminds everyone—clients, lenders and everyone else who’s watching—of all the chaps who’ll never be straight again.