CAMPAIGNS: International Financial PR - Patriotism pays off in Bond issue

Client: State Bank of India

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

issue (RIB).

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

campaign’s success.

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