Advertising is created by understanding the relationship between users and categories and then building inspiring bridges with brands. It is placed by a learned estimation of what this person is likely to watch or read; reach, frequency and effectiveness built on this fundamental premise. However, the genre of the media content being consumed is not considered during the development of commercials, the same spots running from serials to news to sport. It is time to seriously evaluate the role of emotional synergies, where the nature of paid messaging will actively integrate with the nature of media content, to help brands build genuine connections with users.
Experiential logic confirms that human moods react quite dramatically, albeit in a short-term fashion, to what we see on TV or read in a magazine. The strong-hearted matriarch is known to cry shamelessly during an 8.30 pm soap opera and the stoic accountant prances like a reckless teenager when India wins a cricket match, courtesy a last-ball sixer. When watching the news channel debates, our fundamental opinions are loudly expressed while during a travel show, an aspirational calm presides over our senses. Yet when it comes to advertising content, various edits of the same campaign are exposed, quite unconcerned with topicality or mood as long as the designated target group is happily reached. A life insurance brand softly hawking a lifetime of shared values thus seems irritating during a high-tension sporting encounter while the deliberate rush of adrenaline in a soft-drink spot appears recklessly carefree as an interlude for a stressful mother-in-law and daughter-in-law banter, the disconnect in real-time emotions making brand connect less effective.
Both brands and agencies made sincere attempts to build such contextual bridges in the heydays of print; I remember separate content being designed for lifestyle magazines, mainline newspapers and business journals. In television, however, a major reason for this strategy to rapidly evaporate was the sheer cost of content creation, smart value-creation by production houses ensuring unearthly margins and thus restricting the number of commercials any brand could afford. A pattern that is silently and often-unknowingly being shattered by the digital world, where audio-visual content is delightfully right-priced and thus multiple editions are easily possible in the interests of topicality and variety. Equally importantly, the media brands of this world enjoy reasonably-segmented user relationships, separate conversations necessary for advertisers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This can range from the deliberately transactional to a sense of instant reward or simply lifestyle connect with friends and family. What we now need is the transference of this age-old wisdom, courtesy traditional print, and new-age smartness, due to influential digital, to the world of television commercials which in India, at least, will be alive and well for the reasonable future.
To make emotional synergies successful, strategy and execution have to work in cohesion for which thankfully the environment is perfectly suitable at the moment. In terms of the latter, the easy cost structure of making digital films can easily now be logically applied to television, allowing multiple renditions instead of the solitary magnum opus, the appetite for numbers successfully fuelled by the new world. In terms of the former, brand strategists must apply their mind rigorously to add the crucial layer of content segmentation, infusing brands with multiple cohesive facets of personality. From noodles to automobiles to insurance, we can easily imagine customised commercials for soppy serials, provocative news, exciting sport and mellow luxury, coming from the same brand world but with calibrated narratives, like many moods of the same human being.
Strategic integration with media content will enable brands to build genuine emotional synergies with customers, a step closer to carving sensitive and sustainable relationships. Traditional media will thus become more hard-working and customised, further fuel for their existence in this digital avalanche forever threating to overwhelm the present.
(ShivajiDasgupta is the Founder of INEXGRO Brand Advisory and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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