Brand Communication in a Post-Pandemic Era, Marketing & Advertising News, ET BrandEquity

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The pandemic has revolutionized the way businesses and brands think. The entertainment space in particular has seen two extremes of activity – oversupply to undersupply, in just about a month of nationwide lockdown. Since the emergence of digital platforms, they have always worked in conjunction with television as most of these OTT platforms belong to the same broadcast/media group, and have worked well primarily as a catch-up TV and on-the-go entertainment source . , with more reliance on original content lately. But with confinement, television has become more relevant than ever and had to revise its strategy in the absence of a content bank. As the world still struggles to return to the terrain of normality, broadcasters, advertisers and marketers must continue to face challenges to maintain audience interest. Two things that have always formed the basis of successful advertising campaigns – timing and timeliness – have experienced limits like never before, but leave us wanting to learn and unlearn while we’re at it.

Ads are making a comeback

The advertising industry seems to be back in full swing, with original programming on television. Brands have started partnering with reality shows and events to make up for lost or reduced visibility during all this time. But how many of them do we actually remember? Speaking of IPL in particular, the excitement was high with the return of the first live sporting event. Building on this laid back and fun mood, CRED created a humorous campaign with unusual use of celebrities, taking them beyond the scripted product specifications. The point of observation here is the nature of the advertisements.

There have been very few ads or campaigns that stay with us – such as Samsonite India’s “Kerala is Open” campaign focused on reviving tourism in Kerala after the devastating floods of 2018. The nation had come together to support state in different ways, and Samsonite built on these audience emotions by coming to the fore and echoing with their thoughts, and subtly showcasing the products. This indicates that when you adapt to the audience and timeliness, delivering a campaign works like a charm.

The “relevant” roadmap

The more relevance you generate is what makes you click with the audience. We need to move with the times, speaking here beyond the pandemic. With the proliferation of well-funded VC brands, brands face an unprecedented challenge to capture consumer attention. While many of these new-age brands have done ground-breaking work, it’s forcing established brands to go beyond the traditional route and stay relevant. When Ramayana made its comeback after 33 years on Doordarshan during the pandemic, it claimed to be the most-watched show with 7.7 cr viewers. Dairy brand Amul built on this and re-released its old advertisements on Doordarshan during the Ramayana and Mahabharat reruns. It was definitely a win-win for both, and a big learning curve for the industry on how high nostalgia is among audiences.

Brand-content synergies

To capture the attention of audiences, brands and broadcasters have collaborated over the years through product placements and brand integrations. These integrations help you be part of the story that grabs audiences’ attention. So when brands place products or services in content, they take advantage of high levels of consumer attention. Understanding the ethos of a show and channel is key to undertaking such integrations, which can be done through product integrations or the creation of independent properties. One big call would be Coke Studio, which has managed to capture today’s exuberant youth through a format that works best – music. But you don’t remember too many of these campaigns because viewer and brand preferences should match, which is not an easy task for most brands. Moreover, the time and effort required to create such opportunities is enormous.

The need for a format that gives brands the opportunity to capitalize on the high attention of viewers is the need of the hour.

Breaking up the clutter with technology

Marketers and brands need to broaden their onboarding landscape, keeping in mind the current limitations and uncertainties. The use of digital innovations and technology is essential to get the message across. The reliance on digital marketing has grown like never before, but television continues to be one of the most preferred sources of entertainment and maximizing reach in these times. Even global sports broadcasters are innovating to make broadcasting sports seem almost normal in a stadium without spectators, and brands are engaging in different ways to grab attention.

Audiences certainly interact with brands in many ways when they are part of the content, but must be transparent to ensure brand recall and not forced fit. In-content advertising is one of the newest forms of brand integration that uses the best of technology to digitally embed brands’ advertising communication into content during the post-production phase. It overcomes the limitations of offline integrations such as pre-planning scheduling syncs to match brand messaging and campaign scalability.

Both active and hyperactive integrations play a part and should be part of the overall campaign strategy, but adding in-content advertising with run frequency far improves messaging and brand recall. This seamless onboarding process ensures that the programming value of the content is retained and the message delivered when consumers are highly engaged with their favorite TV show. In a recent study by Kantar & Orbit, spontaneous brand recall and message delivery of ICA campaigns was higher than non-ICA campaigns, indicating its effectiveness.

The technology revolution has made brand integrations cost effective and scalable, keeping programming and logistical nightmares at bay. We’ve watched the tech revolution in movies via VFX, with behind-the-scenes glimpses of super-fictional films telling us that most stunts are undertaken with green screen in a limited setup. The pandemic has proven to be an opportunity and a push towards acceptance of the technology, especially as scheduling and logistics remain uncertain, and the show absolutely must go on!

As India moves towards conscious consumerism with renewed vigor towards a clean approach to life, safer alternatives to supplement usual lifestyles are being pushed forward. The availability of sustainable, organic and chemical-free products on smart commerce platforms using a content-to-commerce strategy helps build a strong relationship between consumers and brands in the most effective way.,,,

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