When it comes to marketing products in Nepal, there are examples of a company's logo or symbol effectively combining a social agenda with strong branding.
Ace Development Bank's adoption of the endangered Asiatic one-horned rhinoceros last year as its mascot is now regarded as a successful case study in marketing with a conscience.
Ace decided on the rhino because the animal's body armour and size gives it the image of power, strength and stability. However, the fact that it is being poached nearly into extinction also gave the bank a "green" image. Ace used 'Innovation and Integrity' as its tagline and used the rhino logo to brand its new Ace Rhino Deposit account designed to influence children as and adults to develop a saving habit.
More than a year into the campaign, Ace Development Bank CEO Siddhant Pandey (pictured, above) admits the ad may have been a little ahead of its time because the concept of mascots has not really caught on in Nepal yet.
"We are still very product-driven in our ads, whereas in the west people identify with mascots and symbols more," Pandey told Nepali Times, "there were actually people who asked why our rhino was standing on two legs."
Ace has gone beyond just using the rhino in its logos, and has actually adopted two rhinos at the Central Zoo in Jawalakhel. It has renovated the enclosure for the rhinos and created a "honeymoon suite" for the pair to mate. When we visited them this week, Kanchha (pictured, below) and his mate looked reasonably blissful.
The ad campaign in the print and electronic media included a state-of-the-art animation by Incessant Rain in which the cute anthropomorphism of the rhino was a hit, especially with children. "The kids absolutely love our advertisement, and we've heard they don't let their parents change the channel when it is being broadcast," says Pandey. Interestingly, the animation of a squirrel storing nuts did seem to go over the heads of other, older, Nepali viewers.
The honeymoon suite concept has caught the attention of the international media and the story has travelled worldwide. This could translate also into added funding for rhino conservation.
There is, however, more muted response within Nepal where mascot branding is a new concept. Says Pandey: "The function of the mascot is to create awareness of conservation issues while at the same time helping the bank brand, and I think we have communicated that message."
Himalayan Bajar, ARTHA BEED