- Shweta Raman
- Brand Film, Unconventional, Advertising, New Revolution, Marketing
India before the 1990s was a very, very different place. It was a closed economy with far fewer influences. After 1991, when it was forced to liberalise, one thing that really changed was exposure. With more media exposure and more companies coming in, opportunities bloomed. It brought about a change in the media. Thereon, the internet and social media’s influence grew, allowing brands to personalize their communication – and revolutionize how they spoke to their consumers.
What is branded content?
In today’s digital era, each individual is looking for stories that resonate with their values. This creates an opportunity for brands to connect with their consumers by providing them with experiences that are both immersive and engaging. When a brand tries to create deeper social change by using creative mediums, it is known as branded content – finding a place for the product as an action for progressive change. This fresh form of marketing helps in communicating what the brand is all about, the kind of lifestyle it vouches for and the values it stands by. Additionally, from a more business point of view, it drives far greater relevance and sales. It keeps consumers coming back, progressively building brand loyalty over time.
How is it different from traditional advertising?
Traditional or native advertising involves promoting your brand through the editorial feeds of publishers. It involves brands speaking more about themselves than connecting with their market audience. These truism strategies usually involve paid efforts and don’t always work in the digital time we live in. Branded content involves a lot of creative efforts and expenditure. In order to make sure that these get a good reach, they are often boosted and marketed artfully. All in all, while traditional advertising is forced onto its audience, branded content is willingly consumed by them. The audience doesn’t feel manipulated, and inturn, trusts the brand through its sensitivity.
Why does branded content work?
Storytelling develops an emotional connection with the audience. Many brands now share content that addresses a societal issue. Sometimes these celebrate a set of values, principles or an ideal way of living. It is also common for brands with a niche audience to tap into a specialized interest. For example, back in 2017, Ariel launched a campaign called #ShareTheLoad that caught our eyes. This detergent brand increased sales upto 76% in India by encouraging progressive gender roles. A major part of their campaign was an emotional online film challenging the tradition that women do a majority of housework in India.
Their primary objective was to create a platform that would allow Ariel to become a brand that mattered to the urban Indian woman, i.e.the target audience. Their previous campaign in 2015 also drove relevance and sales but with this campaign their primary objective was to go deeper. At the non-business side, it was about the question they raised last year: is laundry only a woman’s job? Having already raised the issue of gender and equality, this time around it was about trying to get to a solution or a means of trying to stop the cycle of gender inequality.
Here is why YOU should create progressive and relevant content for your brand:
Branded content is authentic and real. It is referred to by some experts as a “new revolution in marketing” content that tries to genuinely be of service to its consumers and its industry without manipulating the audience. Rajat Mendhi, encourages brands to respond to the changes occurring in society and using it to their advantage.
“#ShareTheLoad brought about two things. One is that there are conversations and whispers around us all the time – brands need to suss out the changes that are happening. They need to ask, ‘In which places are changes happening?’
The other one is sensitivity, it is about moving forward. The changes are whispers right now but they will turn into roars in time. If you show your sensitivity right at the very beginning, you can become part of the change and become an instrument of change. The alternative is that brands will get shoved out of conversations and people’s thinking because they are still propagating an older way of thinking. Brands will become irrelevant really, really fast if they stick to the old stories.” says Rajat Mendhi, executive vice president – planning, at BBDO India.
How Ariel created their branded content and how they used it to connect to their audience:
“#ShareTheLoad is one example, where a man doing the laundry is a step in the right direction in terms of enabling people to emulate progressive gender roles. It’s all about looking at your products, not through the lens of the old stereotypes, but how can it propagate new gender roles? We knew our product enabled tough stain removal in one wash. Because it’s easy to use, it doesn’t matter if a man or a woman does the wash: they would get the same results. In that sense it becomes a tool or an instrument that can propagate a positive gender role.” Rajat Mendhi
This campaign is more than just the sales and the figures that they achieved. Since the launch, they’ve had a lot more engagement with people and their consumers. Apart from winning a Glass Lion for its content marketing, they received phone calls with affirming admiration, and the short film has been shared with numerous families across the world. Moreover, the campaign was organically shared on social media platforms by a diverse audience of people who were moved by the subject matter.
Overall, branded content allows you to talk about your product without alienating your audience. While most brands avoid overtly fraudulent techniques, many fall into the trap of dishonest advertising tactics because “everyone else is doing it.” Branded content is the new revolution that the audience NEEDS!
Once you have done your research and have a capable production team ready, before you start filming make sure the campaign entails the following key factors:
- Make sure that the topic of your content stays relevant and pertinent to the current events and issues
- Your story must tap into the emotional side of the audience to make it engaging
- Integrate and position your brand intelligently and carefully so that your audience absorbs the essence of your offering without being put off by the placement
- Incorporate a prominent call to action for your campaign so that your brand can take advantage of any organic sharing opportunity
Our team at Emaho is passionate about creating visually-engaging films for different brands. Here is some of our work that shares a unique story about the brand with its clients:
On the northern coast of Goa, lies an unhurried little beach resort. Here, visitors get a glimpse into the raw beauty and culture of a Goa in times past. This film was created for the Elsewhere Hotel for them to archive its history and garner what it really means to them.
Embark on an emotional journey of breathing, yogic asana, bodywork, and mindfulness, with Viriam Kaur and Adam Divine. This promo-video was created for Em-bodied.org to showcase what their retreat experiences are like.
In Jharkhand, 5 out of 10 girls drop out of school and become child brides. But not these girls. Yuwa is an NGO that is empowering girls to choose their own livelihoods in one of the most challenging regions of the world. This film was created as part of a fundraising campaign to develop Yuwa’s new school and athletic campus.
Overall, branded content helps shape public opinion and brand placement. It is also the responsibility of a brand today to extrude values that resonate with the need of the hour. This helps the audience feel comfortable in trusting your products and brings about positive change within our society.