Ananya Saha
Oct 22, 2013

Double standards: Why aren’t brand videos riding the viral waves?

Psy, Kolaveri, etc. took the virtual world by storm. Can brand virals be as powerful? If not, why not? Ananya Saha asks Prashanth Challapalli and Samar Singh Sheikhawat.

Double standards: Why aren’t brand videos riding the viral waves?

Prashanth Challapalli (L), SVP and digital head, iContract and Samar Singh Sheikhawat (R), SVP - Mktg., United Breweries

Is virality the ultimate sign of the success of online video content?

PC: It depends on what the objective is. Something that goes hugely viral does not imply that it has achieved its objective. Only the agency and the client would know what the goal is, unless there is very strong call to action.

One of the ways to measure the virality is to know if it viral transcends the original medium and gets people talking across other mediums like television or newspapers. Kolaveri, for instance, was talked about by every media possible when it was essentially video content. Kolaveri and Gangnam became part of popular culture.

SSS: Not necessarily. Usually the content that goes viral is beyond your control. For instance, Kolaveri is an average song sung by an average looking singer. However, it struck chord with the target audience, and thus, went viral. Gangnam Style, the most viewed viral video, was an average video that went viral beyond the creators’ wildest expectation. By definition, something that goes viral is interesting only for the moment, and for a large number of people. Both the videos became hugely viral but no one listens to it today. If the online content has the right, engaging content then it can positively influence brand presence.

Are branded videos less successful as virals than pure play content videos? Why?

PC: On an average, yes. People are more interested in being told the great story than being sold something. Lot of branded content say ‘I want to sell to you’, in the shape of a story.

SSS: Typically, branded content is looked at with little less credibility. In the video world, content is king and consumer is the queen. They will probably be seduced if they like the compelling content – it may or may not be branded. For instance, everyone knew that ‘Jaago Re’ Tata Tea campaign was branded content. But it struck a chord of social consciousness and moral uprightness amongst citizens. And, therefore, it worked very well. ‘What an idea, Sirji’  did very well when the brand name was a part of the tagline. Whether is it branded or not is not the critical determinant. The determinant is whether the content is engaging, compelling, interesting. Typically, if you try and push the brand messaging really hard, it is received with cynicism and with a lack of credibility.

Can branded content be as successful as viral entertainment videos like Psy or Kolaveri? How?

PC: Yes, they can be. ‘Dove Real Beauty Sketches’ have done a pure piece of branded communication. There is a lot of branded content that has gone viral. What goes wrong is that in branded content, entertainment quotient becomes lesser than the brand quotient.

SSS: Branded content needs to keep the branding subtle. If I was doing a hoarding or a poster, I would say make the branding look huge and large. In case of TVC, I would say make the branding strong. But if I am doing video content, I need to ensure that the video content is in sync with brand’s core value and positioning. It needs to be executed with finesse and good production value, and should be interesting. These three things need to be taken care of while creating video content.

In your view, what is the best example of branded content that went viral?

PC: ‘Coke Studio’, which was a pure branded content. Then there was ‘Red Bull Space Jump’. There was no way you could miss Red Bull even if you closed your eyes. There are varying levels of scale. There is a lot of money, effort, and infrastructure that went into creating that space jump.

SSS: ‘Jaago Re’ was a great idea that went viral. ‘What an idea, Sirji’ and all the extensions were done very well. ‘Amul doodh peeta hai India’, although sporadic, has been a wonderful piece of execution over the years. Some of the earlier work of Maruti Suzuki were very good, where it said ‘Ghar aa gaya hai Hindustan’. Fevicol’s branded content was executed well. It delivered the brand’s core proposition in a very interesting and humorous manner.

Does it require an integrated approach, like ‘Khooni Kaun’, to create impactful virals?

PC: It helps if you have multimedia support.


SSS: Not necessarily. The fact is that if I am doing only a video, it can still go viral. If I have print, radio and television around it, it does have an impact as well. It is ideal but it is not necessary.

Are branding opportunities for online videos (not created by the brand) explored enough? Could that be a big play in future?

PC: If the brands place themselves cleverly without offending the sensibilities of the audience, then yes, branding opportunities for online videos can work. Increasingly, brands will be getting innovative in how they communicate. So we will see different kinds of sponsored branded entertainment. It can backfire if the brands do not place themselves sensibly in a piece of online content.

SSS: Not in India. People are just beginning to realise its potential. It could be a big play in future but you cannot start your communication by saying, ‘I will create branded content by creating viral videos’ because there is no guarantee it will succeed. Also, you need to be consistent and persistent with the online property and remain true to your brand’s core messaging.

The article appeared in the issue of Campaign India dated 18 October, 2013

Campaign India

Related Articles

Just Published

5 hours ago

Google is not killing ID solutions, but has ...

The company's overnight announcement that it would not support ID initiatives led to shock and misunderstanding. Industry experts weigh in on what it really means, and what Google's true motivations are

11 hours ago

Iodex UltraGel brings painless testimonials to life 

Watch the films conceptualised by Leo Burnett here

12 hours ago

Live blog: News updates - week of 1 March

In the news: Fast&Up, Organic India, Tute Consult

16 hours ago

Adventures of Baldy and Beardy: An introduction

Starting 8 March, follow the adventures of a writer who is sarcastic and brave on social media along with a gifted artist