Content is the king and it is increasingly working its way to the forefront of all digital marketing strategies. Ad man Jignesh Maniar contends that content is a crucial element that reaps big rewards.

As a creative director at advertising major Ogilvy for eight years, Maniar had handled major brands like Perfetti, Pidilite, Castrol and ESPN, among others. Maniar, who now runs his own agency Onads Communication, says it is always ideas that build brands and build businesses.

Given that consumers are flooded with advertising and marketing throughout their daily lives, and even social media sites featuring ads, Maniar says consumers tend to get numb to traditional marketing tactics. Most would gloss over ads and marketing tips to skip to what they are looking for, he adds.

It is here that creatively working relational stories into content gives consumers a welcome break from straight ads. Maniar insists personal stories easily evoke curiosity as well as empathy from consumers, driving many to read the entire story.

“Content is more relevant for brands as well as for consumers. More and more brands are becoming content creators, and data and cultural intelligence are soon going to be key to understand and create branded content.”

Cultural intelligence

By creating content and not advertisements, brands are hoping that they can reach consumers and build stronger relationships with them, but cutting through the clutter is increasingly difficult given the deluge of content. This is where cultural intelligence comes into play. Cultural intelligence is the ability to relate effectively in culturally diverse situations. Maniar feels companies that excel at taking this in to account tend to thrive in the marketplace.

Like HSBC’s most memorable advertising campaign in the early 2000s which positioned the bank as the 'world’s local bank'. In a series of advertisements, the international bank highlighted the importance of local knowledge.

Connected world

Maniar believes advertising executives are at sea grappling with how to seize the opportunities of an interlinked world.“We live in a very connected world. Take the ice and bucket challenge, it spread rapidly all over the world. Similarly, the floods in Chennai, or if Ola or Uber did something spectacular, people are clued in right away, given their social media connections,” says Maniar.

Maniar has teamed up with Amin Worldwide, a global alliance of independently owned advertising agencies that share insights, knowledge and resources.