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BY Ritika Raj

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It’s 2021 and mental health still remains a topic that is brushed under the carpet in most parts of the country. Ruchika Varma, CMO, Future Generali India Insurance (FGII) shares insights on the brand’s recent campaign that features sports stars busting the taboos on mental health, and much more

Q] Tell us about the insight behind your latest campaign, Mind Matters and the conceptualisation and execution process.
Five years ago, WHO estimated that over 90 million Indians suffer from some form of mental illness. Cut to 2021, post two COVID-19 waves, what we have is a vast yet unaddressed problem of mental health issues. There is an urgent need to tackle this head-on. But unfortunately, seeking help for mental health problems continues to be taboo in India. As a brand that emphasises the significance of leading with a human touch, FGII set the ball rolling with the #HealthInsideOut campaign in 2020. We started the conversation by launching an API-based diagnostic tool, Total Health Score, to help people analyse their mental and physical health status.
Our campaign, Mind Matters aims to further steer the conversation on mental health by throwing light on the mental health struggles of some of India’s top sports personalities. FGII conceptualised it as a 15-minute five-part video series featuring India’s sports icons, and it was executed by What’s Your Problem (a Wondrlab company). Mind Matters offers a sneak peek into the minds of sports personalities who aim to de-stigmatise the issue, create awareness and educate people to seek help, both medical and financial.

Q] In a country with a lot of stigma around mental illness, what compelled you to make mental health the key talking point?
The very fact that mental health is still a taboo subject in India is the reason behind our decision to make mental health and wellness a key pivot in its brand story. The WHO estimates that 1 in every 5 Indians suffers from some mental health issue. The crippling second wave of COVID-19 only exacerbates the problem. Indians need help with their mental health, now more than ever. There is an urgent need for initiatives like Mind Matters, to break the taboo and de-stigmatise and normalise mental health discussions, which will create awareness and point people in the direction of help at the right time.

Q] What are the synergies between these sportspersons and Future Generali? How have you leveraged the association?
Mind Matters aims to create awareness about mental health through people well known for their high fitness levels, both mental and physical, and yet candidly admit to having dealt with mental health issues in the past.
By the nature of their profession, sports celebrities need to be in top form at all times. This often leads to the mistaken impression that physical fitness is all that matters to a successful sports star. Each of the sports celebrities featured in the campaign stress that mental health is as important as physical health. Addressing their mental health issues by actively seeking help enabled them to finally achieve their true potential in the field. Therefore, who better than sports celebrities to bring about awareness on the subject?
We roped in some of India’s most prominent sports personalities from diverse fields like Sunil Chhetri, Robin Uthappa, Sania Mirza, Cheteshwar Pujara and Abhinav Bindra—and got them to share their never-heard-before personal stories of mental health. For instance, Sania Mirza talked about dealing with the pressure of constant social media scrutiny at a young age. Abhinav Bindra, part of the mental health working group for the International Olympic Committee, spoke about creating a psychologically safe environment for athletes. We believe that the stories of their struggle and how they overcame them would create awareness and encourage viewers to seek help if they needed it.

Future Generali India Insurance Company Limited is a joint venture between Future Group and Generali, a 190 year old global insurance group. The company was incorporated in September 2007 with the objective of providing retail, commercial, personal and rural insurance solutions to individuals and corporates.

Ruchika Varma is the Chief Marketing Officer of Future Generali India Insurance Limited (FGII). With over 18 years of experience across multiple sectors, Varma is responsible for marketing communications, product innovations, developing digital capabilities and partnerships and CSR at FGII.

Q] Brand campaigns should also reflect on brand purpose at the core. In tough times like these, how is the brand ensuring the mental wellbeing of its employees?
FGII takes pride in being an employee-first organisation. We created a safe and stable environment for our employees by implementing a very strict COVID protocol. We also put to rest job-related anxiety by ensuring that every employee got their due credit, bonuses, and increments on time, just like any other year. We took a holistic approach towards employee welfare by starting a one to one toll-free helpline number and offering confidential counselling sessions by trained mental health experts. We also initiated yoga classes, employee assistance programmes, knowledge sharing and de-stressing activities.

Q] How does this mental health campaign fit the larger marketing strategy at Future Generali?
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to consumers showing a greater appreciation for insurance, particularly health insurance. Mental health issues are slowly becoming a part of the conversation. We are leading these conversations from the front with all our initiatives and campaigns. FGII offers the ‘Health Total’ insurance policy, which covers not just hospitalisation but even OPD consultation for mental illness. Through our mental health campaigns and product innovations, we believe we are upholding our brand purpose of being a lifetime partner for the customers, and delivering our brand values of empathy, human touch and innovation.

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Tags : interview marketing Ruchika Varma Ritika Raj Future Generali