Digital is important, but one cannot wash away the intrusiveness and multiple exposure potential of traditional media, especially in a country like India, where penetration and awareness matter most to marketers
Delhi |October 5, 2016
Crisis in digital world
Facebook had a severe crisis, its 3-sec view matrix was out in open and suddenly those 10 million view videos meant a much smaller viewership. It dents the wider belief that digital is a strong alternative to TV, and is under scanner. To top it Dentsu in Japan announced that it is investigating over-reporting in billing on digital accounts. The third news that points to increased turbulence in the digital advertising market is of Twitter being courted by potential buyers, including the mighty Google.
I have always believed that digital media is important, but it is not a replacement for the traditional TV. While there is a possibility of sharper targeting on digital and greater contextual connection, the measurement is way too opaque. Lack of third party measurement tools adds to the opaqueness of digital advertising. Digital is important, but you cannot wash away the intrusiveness and multiple exposure potential of traditional media, especially in a country like India, where penetration and awareness matter the most to marketers.
The context of communication
This week was the week of the biggest spectacle that can exist on TV, the US Presidential Debate. This is a TV duel that the world (not just US) waits for. Brands do try to be contextual; Audi won this battle hands down.
The cleverly titled ad called Duel has two valets, one man and one woman, who get into a combat over who will drive the Audi to the porch for the guests. In the turbo-charged ad you can see the voting badges, a building called Presidential Tower (you know what they are hinting at) and a dirty duel to finish. The end line ‘choose your driver carefully’ is cleverly crafted. If you haven’t seen the ad, do catch it here (https://youtu.be/Dir0cOFmrOM)
Staying with context, there was another event that happened in India, where the brands did miss a chance of riding the immediacy created by the wider context. A young actor’s skin colour was made fun of in a TV comedy show. The actor did not take it lying down and took to social media to expose the deep prejudices that exist in our society and how the skin colour is the test of beauty. To be beautiful, you have to be fair. This is a narrative that has been built by every fairness cream, powder, gel, serum and maybe other formats I am not aware of. The post that the young actor put on her FB wall had terrific traction. Wide array of people sided with her and her point of view on how colour of skin is a prejudice and how that cannot lead to humour. Now there are brands that could have leveraged this incident. Dove, the brand that celebrates real beauty, remained mute. Fair and Lovely could have had a point of view but they too remained silent. Here was an event that should have been commented upon by the beauty industry; somehow they allowed it to slip by.
The brand that did have a topical take on the festivities around is ‘Stay On’ capsules. Every once in a while advertising becomes the butt of jokes, Stay On will remain this for many years to come I suspect.
Brands for Good
The festive season is around, the unicorn e-com players have gone on sale, the newspapers have turned into leaflets for sale, but a few brands have taken a completely different path.
eBay India’s #ThingsDon’tJudge campaign (https://youtu.be/_ZOW6W4DK-M) on the face of it is a simple campaign telling the tale of what eBay sells, but hidden in the sub-text are stories that are rarely told. The brand has quietly slipped in a man proposing to a man, and made it look almost matter of fact. Yes there is a slow motion shot of a man going down on his knees and we get to see the ring, but in the overall story, it is one more episode. The comments on their social feed do make for fantastic reading.
LG has just unveiled the #MuteTheGrowl campaign urging people to not waste money, energy and deplete the resources of mother earth (https://youtu.be/xTgKFJbPUw4).
The site www.mutethegrowl.com gives out data on how food wastage can change the future of many underfed, undernourished people in the world. In partnership with NGO Akshaya Patra, this is a very nice initiative.
Hyundai too has released a campaign asking people to be good drivers. #BeTheBetterGuy campaign featuring Shah Rukh Khan has a series of commercials, each asking people to give up a bad driving habit. Drink and drive, seatbelts, over speeding and using mobile while driving are issues that need to be addressed and Hyundai has done well.
The festive season is here and the season for big boost in advertising is here. Facebook is reported to be speaking with a media group to solve its 3-sec crisis. Brands will find a way to leverage the context to tell their story. The real joy will be with more brands, be like eBay or Hyundai.
(Naresh Gupta is Managing Partner and CSO of Bang in the Middle. The views expressed are personal.)