Creating content that can win trust

Amrita Nair Ghaswalla | Updated on May 03, 2018 Published on May 03, 2018

What does it take to come up with ideas that make consumers engage with your brand?


Guinness, the iconic black beer from Ireland, has solely been credited with leading the way for the rise of branded content.

Way back in 1950, Sir Hugh Beaver, the then managing director of Guinness Brewery, and his hosts at a shooting party could not agree on the fastest game bird in Europe. Failing to find an answer in any reference book, Sir Beaver hatched an idea for a reference book that aimed to settle pub arguments throughout the globe, goes the brand’s account of the creation of the Guinness Book of World Records, the ultimate authority on record-breaking achievements across the globe.

At that time, Sir Beaver donned the role of a good content marketer, and sought to fix a problem with valuable, original content. That is how important content is, state marketers, even for a company dealing in the beer that is sold in over 150 countries.

Despite the global recognition, Guinness today has to make itself heard on social media and digital marketing in an ever-noisier environment. As the brand continues to evolve its brand story, many other brands are making a foray into digital storytelling.

As Ashok Kumar Gupta, Chairman, Zirca Digital Solutions, points out, “Today’s consumers are evolved, making it critical for brands to have a much more nuanced understanding of their needs and motivations. Branded content is not just informative and entertaining, it helps educate consumers about the brand’s products and mission in a non-intrusive way.”

Anil K Nair, Managing Partner, Law & Kenneth Saatchi & Saatchi (L&K S&S), maintains that branded content “is a new paradigm that brands need to master. Brands need to relearn some old habits, learn to divest control and become more subliminal in their messaging.”

Singapore Tourism Board (STB) recently announced a strategic partnership with financial services platform Paytm. While Paytm is to run joint promotions on its platform to promote Singapore’s touristy points, bringing the country’s tourism offerings to Paytm’s 300 million users, Paytm will also offer cashback on flight tickets to Singapore booked through the app.

The Paytm platform will house a microsite featuring Singapore’s brand idea ‘Passion Made Possible’ and related branded content. Both STB and Paytm are to embark on a series of print ads and radio buys to promote the campaign.

GB Srithar, Regional Director-South Asia, Middle East and Africa, STB, said the digital wave is transforming and driving a shift in the way commerce functions in India. “Indian consumers are increasingly taking to digital and online platforms and show a high acceptance of digital payment modes. Our partnership (with Paytm) will harness this trend.”

A record number of 1.2 million visitors visited Singapore in 2017. Abhishek Rajan, Vice-President, Paytm, added that the alliance with STB is set to augment an existing revolution for consumers, to learn and discover more about Singapore as an engaging and diverse tourist destination.

Growing in importance

As for the microsite, the officials agree that since branded content can entertain people or teach them something, it results in better brand engagement returns.

Echoing this, Varun Duggirala, Co-founder and Content Chief, The Glitch, a digital-first creative agency, and an independent brand under GroupM, says, “ROI is essential. We live in a content-max world. With the advent of digital platforms, the consumption patterns and more importantly, the appetite for content, is so much larger. If anyone is missing that bus they are missing out on the opportunity to build true value and consumer engagement.”

Recently, Glitch launched a specialised content division, Flux@The Glitch, which will have two distinct verticals to service the content requirements of brands. While Creator Lab will be a unique incubator for content creators, brands and platform partners, Content Studio & Hub will focus on the long-term requirements for brands who have an ‘always-on’ approach towards content.

This can range from micro content, especially for e-commerce models, to long-form content that is driven by data and insights, said Duggirala.

“Marketers need to look at content from two lenses,” added Duggirala. “The content they put out should either give the consumer value, solve a need they have, or propagate their brand values to build a deeper connect with the audience. A good blend of both these lenses, along with a publisher mindset, will build reach as well as long-term engagement,” he said.

Zirca Digital’s Gupta adds: “The ultimate goal of branded content is to sidestep the crisis of trust that exists between advertisers and consumers.”

The right conditions

Branded content works best when there is “already an owned or paid community that can be accessed,” says L&K S&S’ Nair. “It also works best when there is a bit of pre-selling and hype created on social media and by using influencers.”

As branded content is best judged by “the share and engagement quotient, and the time spent on the content,” Nair insists, “one can also correlate it to any form of couponing or purchase intent that such content couches.”

Nair adds, “The Amul hoardings are classic branded content which succeeded even in a non-digital world. Red Bull is another fine example of a well-thought-through invested branded content strategy.”

Citing another example, he referred to the campaign that L&K S&S and Facebook had collaborated on for Big Bazaar and the Future Group. The agency married creativity with technology to change the way consumers shop.

“We pulled off a world-first with a 24-hour live shopping show on Facebook Live with over 10 million views in 24 hours,” said Nair.

Big Bazaar’s Sabse Saste 5 Din has become a well-known phenomenon for the last 12 years. Aiming to break through the clutter, since consumers are inundated with several offers at the same time, “we decided to marry the energy of the biggest shopping festival of India with the excitement of entertainment.”

The campaign broke through shopping festival clutter and bridged the gap between a digital-first millennial consumer and the offline retail giant. This was the first time that a retailer reached out to its customers individually on their phones – not just with exciting exclusive deals, but with live entertaining content crafted around those deals.

The impact was clear: 1 lakh coupons, translated into 3 lakh walk-ins with 62 per cent redemptions, and the highest ever sale on January 26, breaking all previous records.

Pawan Sarda, Group Head-Digital, Future Group, added, “We created an entertaining programme with leading Bollywood and television influencers for our viewers and with m-coupons, we were able to drive them to the stores.”

An Indian brick-and-mortar retail brand could well be the new kid on the block to show the world how creating a contextual branded content and digital event will help pump up sales.

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Published on May 03, 2018
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