Dheeraj Sinha
Jun 17, 2013

Cannes 2013: 'Traditional brand construct counters environment of social networks': Dheeraj Sinha

Sinha reflects on views aired on the Cannes Lions stage - and off it - for Campaign India

Cannes 2013: 'Traditional brand construct counters environment of social networks': Dheeraj Sinha

Brands are constructed as artificial beings. They are constructed to the whims and fancies of some brand mapping tool which fits them into prisms or pyramids or any other geometrical shape that the model dictates.

The social (media) space is about people and it demands them to be real, it rewards them for being themselves. So making mistakes, cracking jokes, being human is possibly the biggest draw that most people on social media  have.

But we build brands to have a limited set of values and personalities - all of which have to be positive if not empowering. The brand is not allowed to let its guard down or cross the line ever. Yet we are intrigued about how brands can succeed in the social space. Well in the way we currently construct them, they won't.

One of the sessions on day one at Cannes advertising festival explored how celebrities managed such a wide and successful social media presence. The panel comprised of Martha Stewart (television and media personality), Melanie Brown (Mel B of Spice Girls fame) and Nick Cannon (host at America's Got Talent). It was clear with this panel of celebrities that when they reached out on social media, they put their real selves out there, not an artificially crafted image of themselves. As Nick pointed out, they had taken away the powers of the paparazzi as they were themselves putting out so much of their lives for the people to see and react. Even the promotion of brands that the celebrities endorsed were done as if they were a part of their lives. The business self and the personal self in this case has become one.

So what do brands learn from these celebrities? Well to be your real self - of course that's not rocket science. But for an entity constructed artificially on paper, as a sum-total of a few boxes or a pyramid, how does one come out to be a real self? How does one win in the context of social networks which reward being human far more than being right? How does a perfect idea win at a place where making mistakes puts you in the company rather than out of it?

The answer is self evident. The traditional construct of brands is counter to the new environment of social networks. In order to succeed in the new environment, brands need to be more human and less perfect, they need to be built more in flesh and blood than in some clever sounding values and personality definitions.

Dheeraj Sinha is chief strategy officer, South and South east Asia at Grey Group. The views expressed are the author's independent views as an ad professional and do not reflect the organisation's viewpoint.

Also read:

Cannes 2013: Diary - Pratap Bose: ‘A thousand bulbs pop in your head everyday’

Cannes 2013: Titus Upputuru on Getty Images’ show – ‘Brilliance doesn't have to be expensive’

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