Client: State Bank of India
PR Team: Adfactors PR
Campaign: The State Bank of India’s Resurgent India Bond issue
Timescale: mid-July to 17 August
Budget: Approximately pounds 175,000 not including advertising costs
The State Bank of India (SBI) is the largest public sector bank in
India, with over 9,000 branches. In July, in the wake of US sanctions
against the country, the bank wanted to raise funds for infrastructure
and economic development, so decided to create a Resurgent India Bond
SBI approached Adfactors PR in Bombay, to create an international PR
campaign to support the Bonds’ issue on 17 August.
To mobilise funds globally for the RIB offer from the SBI and create
confidence in the stability of India’s economy and financial
In particular, the bank was keen to target people of Indian descent
around the world to raise a total figure of US dollars 2 billion.
The RIB issue posed major marketing challenges in terms of the size of
the task and the short timescale. Adfactors first step was to conduct
detailed research to shortlist approximately 25 international markets
which had an Indian population of over 50,000.
A product concept test revealed that the Bonds would be well accepted
and a strategy was drawn up for the both the domestic and international
markets. In India, messages focused on highlighting the product benefits
and encouraging families to communicate these to their relatives
This was backed up by a print and TV advertising campaign.
In the international markets-mainly the UK, Germany, Spain and the Gulf
countries-subtle use was made of investors’ pull to their roots through
the ethnic press. And in those countries where regulations constrained
advertising, PR activities were supported by investor roadshows, press
conferences and internet activity.
In the US and Canada where a host of problems caused delays, the SBI web
site proved particularly important in providing details of the Bond
offer as well as an application form that could be downloaded.
Adfactors also used the internet to identify over 1,000 Indian cultural,
religious and professional bodies and access three databases comprising
100,000 Indians with e-mail addresses mainly in Europe, Canada and the
In India the RIB offer received interest from the English language
press, including The Economic Times and Financial Express, as well as
the local press and electronic media in ten Indian languages. The ethnic
media in other countries also carried a variety of articles and the
campaign achieved widespread international broadcast coverage.
SBI received a total of 83,459 applications for Bonds, 30 per cent of
which were downloaded from the bank’s web site. Most successful, the
exercise exceeded all expectations by raising a total of US dollars 4.16
billion in three different currencies - sterling, US dollars and
While the initiative was backed by advertising in some countries, this
PR campaign was highly impressive on many fronts. First, despite the
short timescale, the PR team used around eight per cent of their budget
to implement an extensive research and evaluation exercise. Second, to
reach a broad swathe of markets from Dubai and Bahrain to Singapore and
Hong Kong, Adfactors successfully catered to a variety of international
regulations and used every PR tool available to them.
Funds raised exceeded the original target figure of US dollars 2 billion
by over 100 per cent. Indeed, the SBI’s chairman was so pleased with the
outcome, that he has publicly acknowledged the role of Adfactors in the