Bollywood is new biz mantra for South African bank

By Fakir Hassen, IANS
9 Jun, 2004 30:05:00 AM
Download Main Hoona Na WallpapersEager to cash in on the popularity of Bollywood films among South African Indians, a leading bank held a special screening of Shah Rukh Khan  starrer "Main Hoon Na" to woo clients.

First Bank, one of the country's top banks, is seeking to target affluent South African Indian clients with this latest marketing tool. The bank held the screening here and in Durban, where the majority of South Africa's 1.2 million Indians live.

"We did this because the movie covers quite a wide spectrum of the community that we serve," said Bobby Mahadev, regional manager of the bank.

Mahadev said there had not been any deliberate attempt to use a Shah Rukh Khan film to cash in on the actor's huge popularity in South Africa.

Download Main Hoona Na Wallpapers"We just wanted to get everybody to come in and enjoy movies, so we contacted the exhibitors of Indian movies in South Africa. 'Main Hoon Naa' happened to be the best film around at the time, and our clients seem to have thoroughly enjoyed it."

The idea of targeting South African Indian business came up because banks here have been competitively targeting the sector which they believe has become increasingly wealthy.

"In the last few years, with the opening up of many new opportunities in a democratic society and with the yoke of apartheid restrictions removed, the Indian community, being very entrepreneurial, has moved into many new areas of business. They are even moving themselves up to the level of large corporates, and this is the sector we are targeting in particular.

Download Main Hoona Na WallpapersConceding that competitors are also looking at ways of uniquely targeting Indian businesses, Mahadev said: "I think everybody now realises that the Indian community is an important community that we need to look after and to get and retain their business. If we don't look after them, we will lose all the opportunities in that market sector."

Mahadev said the bank would definitely consider similar screenings for its clients in future, but also at other types of Indian cultural functions where there could be some interaction between clients and staff of the bank.

The bank has been sponsoring the country's largest Diwali festival on the beachfront of Durban each year, and decided to begin aggressively targeting the affluent corporate banking sector within this community through other means as well.

The group is the second major bank in South Africa to openly sponsor Indian entertainment events. A few months ago, another major banking group, ABSA, sponsored a series of live shows by Indian singer Abhijeet.

Earlier banks here were reluctant to publicly target specific sectors of the South African community as the country attempted to correct the imbalances of the apartheid era.