Fi is a neobank startup i.e. it operates without physical branches. The mission is to help young Indian millennials & Gen-Zs save money through automated savings every time they shop online.
In a bid to show their no-bullshit young personality, they created a string of video ads with a funny “low-effort” Powerpoint theme. It mocked the software’s blatant use in the wake of work-from-home culture since the COVID-19 lockdowns in India.
This played well with their brand’s persona of being prudent with your money. Because the series doesn’t go for any expensive photoshoots or celebrity endorsements. Instead, it completely relies on memes, common internet lingo, and an honest anti-jargon script, delivered by a friendly young voice.
The execution looks entirely done on MS Powerpoint Slides to the layman. But looking at the cute animations, this was probably executed in After Effects/Premiere Pro.
The ads were reportedly run as paid performance campaigns on social media and OTT platforms like Hotstar during the IPL season.
Fi even seemed to have reached out to the country’s most popular ad/social media branded content aggregator, Mad Over Marketing, for a paid promotion of their efforts (referring to the “Collab” transparency tag on the post) – a maneuver that more and more brands are using to get eyeballs on their marketing efforts.
It received a generally positive response from the target audience and made rounds in social circles, giving Fi a well-deserved moment of virality.
Original or Inspired?
The idea of using old applications to create modern ads is far from original. In 2018 Starbucks launched a print ad campaign titled “Your Office Outside your Office.“
The agency Proximity Columbia had used MS Office apps to create the iconic green-dotted coffee cups (inside Excel Sheets, Word Doc, and Powerpoint).
In 2020, Gary Vaynerchuk’s VaynerMedia launched a similar campaign for the Subway brand across South East Asia. It claimed that Subway spent all their marketing budget on stacking their subs with more & more meat slices for meat lovers.
So in the end, there was no money left to do cool photoshoots for the new products. As such, the “Meat Stack” ads had to be created using PowerPoint, MS Word, and other low-effort software. I personally didn’t enjoy that ad as much because it does use some good animations, defeating the whole purpose of keeping things low-key.
As Shaina Teope of Marketing APAC notes on the Subway campaign, “Much like the long-running joke of ‘honest movie titles,’ and ‘honest advertisements,’ the campaign pokes at the elephant in the room in the business of marketing, where some brands prefer to build on glamorous branding rather than improve the product itself.”
To add to Teope’s observation, the “anti-creative” technique used in all these cases debunks the notion that you need flashy, over-the-top designs or huge budgets to create a meaningful impact for your viewers.
The truth is that sometimes creativity is all about being “minimalist” but clever. That can be comforting or distressing to know, depending on how much you like simplistic thinking.
Gen-Z for one seems to love the no-bullshit approach. It stands out amongst a crowd of ads that say too much and therefore too little. So the key takeaway for marketers here is as clear as it gets. Keep it simple, silly.