Kotak 811 #DreamsInvited - Beautiful-looking ad, but befuddling, say experts

8th November seems to be a date booked by Kotak Mahindra Bank. Just like Salman Khan launches a movie every Eid and that date seems to be exclusive to him, Kotak seems to be following the same mantra. Last year saw Kotak roll out the 811 #IndiaInvited campaign to launch their 811 digital account service and create buzz around it. Ranveer Singh brought in his brand of quirky star power to help the campaign break through the clutter. The 360-degree campaign was seen across all mediums like TV, Print, Digital as well as on-ground engagements. 

This year, the campaign’s scope has been extended to project Kotak 811 as a means to fulfil one’s dreams, hence #DreamsInvited. Kotak Mahindra Bank has taken the digital-only route for this campaign, which has received well over 36 million views on YouTube till the time of filing this report. 

On the rationale behind sticking to the digital medium for the current campaign,Elizabeth Venkataraman, Senior Executive Vice President & Head of Marketing, Kotak Mahindra Bank explained, “We believe that a product like 811 deserves a digitally skewed approach. We have started the campaign with a high impact digital presence, which would give us the initial thrust and impact. Post launch, we will sustain the impact with presence on YouTube, FB, Hotstar and other high reach OTT platforms. The digital video plan would also be supported with social media engagement to create buzz and increase the engagement around the brand and campaign. Digital presence would be layered with presence in around 300-400 PVR cinema screens across 8 metros and multiple languages.” 

The ad features Ranveer Singh in the avatar of a Parsi hotel manager of Dreamland Guesthouse, sort of a microcosm of Indians from all walks of life, who are in pursuit of their dreams. PT Usha is seen in an ad after a long time, as the sports legend makes a surprise appearance at the end of the ad and is shown as a previous occupant of room number 811 of the hotel. 

Watch the ad:

Continuing further, Karthi Marshan, Chief Marketing Officer, Kotak Mahindra Group said, “Right from its very origins, Kotak has been in the business of helping Indians across segments and geographies realise their dreams. In 2018, with our 811 #IndiaInvited campaign, we reached out to all Indians, especially the unbanked and under-banked, and took giant strides towards making banking services accessible to all Indians. The new #DreamsInvited campaign builds on this narrative by acknowledging the changing mindscape and narrative of a new India and encouraging Indians to dream big and pursue their dreams, no matter how strange or incredible their dream might seem to others. Kotak 811 is open to one and all.” 

Cartwheel Creative Consultancy is the creative agency that has worked on the #DreamsInvited campaign, while Keroscene Films is the production house. 

Elaborating on the creative thought process behind the campaign, Ramakrishna Desiraju, CEO, Cartwheel Creative Consultancy, said, “The campaign is focused on the Kotak 811 digital bank account, which is open to all and there is no bias. This time, we wanted to take this idea to the next level and at the same time we wanted to reflect what’s happening with the country and the mood of the nation. We wanted to find the aspect that takes the agenda of 811 being non-judgemental. We realised through this that people in the country are having disproportionate dreams. Today, people all over the country have various dreams and we are no one to judge them. We wanted to reflect on that by focusing on this service which helps you achieve those dreams.” 

The concept of a guesthouse and its various occupants to highlight different aspirations is an interesting move. The dependably quirky Ranveer Singh doesn’t disappoint in his Parsi avatar and nails the role, making the ad film an entertaining view. 

However, the product messaging seems weak. For someone who doesn’t know anything about the 811 service, it is very difficult to understand what is the product or service that they are offering. One will find it very difficult to understand what Kotak is trying to do with this ad and why should the customer be interested. Thus, though entertaining, the ad is somewhat confusing for viewers. 

Industry viewpoint – Yay or Nay? 

Sharing his views on the campaign, Sudhir Nair, Founder and CEO, 21N78E Creative Labs, said, “811 is an inconic initiative from Kotak Bank. With Ranveer Singh, a little over-the-top advertising is expected. And as always, it is entertaining and endearing. I liked the idea of Dreamland Guesthouse and #DreamsInvited. It is symbolic of the aspirations of the youth of the country. It is a level playing field for everyone. The ad captures that aspect very well and it’s a good extension of “#IndiaInvited” from last year.” 

At the same time, Nair said that though it was good to see the great “Payyoli Express – PT Usha”, he felt that she was underutilised in the ad. “I didn’t find a clear brand connect. She is from a different era and that is established only by her telling Ranveer that he looks like his father. I wish the legend had more role to play other than being just an erstwhile occupant of Room No. 811; and that, to me, is a miss in an otherwise well-shot film.” 


Agreeing with Nair, Vani Gupta Dandia, Independent Business Consultant at CherryPeachPlum, too, said, “It is a beautiful-looking ad, but it fails to communicate what the product is.” 

She further mentioned that the ad was reminiscent of Wes Anderson and had a very chic production quality. Ranveer Singh looks amazing and the ad has a strong insight that anyone can dream big. However, Dandia said that what product or service was on offer wasn’t easily apparent. “I saw it with great concentration three times over and still struggled with the messaging,” she said. 

She further added, “Sometimes marketers get carried away with the temptation to make art, forgetting what the purpose of advertising is. I wish there was more clarity on the product messaging – it could have been a beautiful entertaining ad that one enjoyed rather than one that leaves one befuddled.” 

Along similar lines, Manish Bhatt, CCO, August Communications, said, “I like the idea of building 811 as a sub-identity. Ranveer Singh brings his infectious energy to good use as usual. However, I found a slight problem with execution. The ad is not easy to comprehend in one go. Too busy and too much happening.”


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