Branded content marketing is a mirror image of marketing a Bollywood film-Mayur Parekh

Mayur Parekh, Business Head, Amplify18, Network18’s Entertainment, Lifestyle and Brand entity, shares his thoughts on how branded content is perceived in India.


Remember the 90’s era? When Yashraj & Dharma movies barely needed any marketing. Back then, the actors hardly promoted their films and print and advertising (P&A) budgets were sparingly used. That is probably because their trailers were a good reason enough for audiences to memorize the date when they get to watch their favourite Celebrity on the Silver Screen. Unfortunately, that phenomena has slowly faded away, and films have now become a regular affair that audiences can treat themselves to from the comfort of their home. The cluttered film industry now, might spoil you with its choices, but sadly only a handful stand out. As is the case with the brand world as well. Too many media options to choose from, that you barely remember the name or feature of a new product or service being launched in the market.

What is it then that one must do to stand out among this stiff competition?

The mammoth platform that Digital has rapidly become, has all media owners wagging their tales wondering what is going to happen of the other traditional modes of communication. Does Digital replace all the other mediums? The medium clearly justifies every penny of an investment made. Everyone has a presence on it, but why is it then that many digital players are still unable to make it work? Or brands still choose to go with the traditional mediums to market themselves? The answer is simple – Newer avenues cannot replace what the traditional ones offer. In India, traditional mediums mainly TV promotions still continue to be the first choice of consumption in a household and contribute to a good 60% reach of the overall Indian population.

Branded content is in a transitional period. Whether you’re a brand, agency or marketing consultancy, establishing a loyal relationship with an audience is becoming harder than ever before. People no longer consume ordinary content, engage with it or trust brands like they used to. They simply need crisp, smart and a poignant storytelling experience. As a result, marketers have occasionally found themselves in a catch-22 situation when it comes to selecting the right media mix.

Historically speaking, we have on an average about 7-9 films doing exceptionally well at the Box Office out of the 175+films released every year. Not every film is fortunate enough to be mounted like a ‘Bahubali’ or have the story line of ‘Hindi Medium’ that connects universally with everyone. Likewise, out of the umpteen brand campaigns that are released every year, only a handful of them have a great recall value. If you look at Coke – “Thanda Matlab Coca-Cola”, Arial - “Share the Load” or Britannia - “World Cup Jao Khush Ho Jaao”, those are campaigns that have stayed on with you forever. But what about the other 98% of the campaigns, what makes them stand out? The need of the hour just like in Bollywood is to come up with innovative marketing strategies on mediums that haven’t been heard of before. Being part of the clutter isn’t going to help, you might have a great product or service, but you need to have a different selling strategy that can help make that difference.

Why I draw a parallel between Branded Content & Bollywood Films is because just like Films, Brands too want their product or service to stand out and instantly engage with the right kind of audiences. Take for instance, the case of a film like ‘Dhadak’ which was a remake of the Marathi film Sairat. The story was identical to its Marathi counterpart, except the star-cast, producer’s filmy clout, hype & marketing around it was unique making it a hit. It’s essentially the same old recipe served in a glittery dish with great intelligence. The makers were willing to take on the challenge of casting newcomers & invest into new & interesting ways to market the film to give it the kickstart it needed with the support of an extra ordinary distribution network. A film without a sound content marketing strategy is as good as a car without any fuel which is vital to race ahead.

Similarly with brands, where you might have an ordinary product or service, but what would make you stand out is being open to the idea of its branded content marketing on different mediums to give you that edge in today’s fast evolving environment. These days, audiences prefer a conversation over a static image. 

I feel it’s pertinent that companies focus more and more on not just by granting huge budgets for marketing their branded content, but also to nurture its success story with their brand ethos. This is again something that’s essential for any film just as its large scale theatrical release. You know precisely as an audience what to expect from a Yashraj or a Dharma style of film-making! Likewise, the key is grabbing the attention of today’s consumer and driving real engagement of your brand attributes through affable storytelling!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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