Noel D'souza
Feb 29, 2024

IAMAI India Digital Summit: Post Poonam Pandey's failed campaign, brands should focus on authenticity over clickbait

Panelists dived into the art of content marketing and trendjacking in the digital advertising ecosystem at the summit

From left: Shantanu Sirohi, Aditi Shrivastava, Shipra Srivastava and Aastha Shah
From left: Shantanu Sirohi, Aditi Shrivastava, Shipra Srivastava and Aastha Shah

In a panel discussion hosted by Shantanu Sirohi, chief operating officer, Interactive Avenues on the second day of IAMAI's India Digital Summit, industry explored the intricacies of content marketing and trendjacking in today's digital advertising landscape. 


The panellists comprised Aastha Shah, fashion and beauty influencer; Shipra Srivastava, head of media, partnerships and CRM, Spotify India and Aditi Shrivastava, co-founder, CEO, managing director, Pocket Aces. The trio highlighted the evolving landscape of content creation, emphasising authenticity, agility, and audience engagement.


Shrivastava kicked off the discussion by underscoring the paramount importance of authenticity in brand marketing. 


She spotlighted, "There is a significant shift towards authenticity over the past decade, hence there is a need for brands to align with their unique value systems and tone of voice. The precedence of content creators in crafting material that resonates with their platforms and audiences, emphasises the need for brands to maintain authenticity across all collaborations and distribution channels." 


Balancing trends with authenticity


Building on the prominence of genuine connections with consumers, Shrivastava voiced, "Authenticity stands as the foremost consideration for all brands today. We consistently stress to both our team and clients the importance of ensuring that branded content performs at par with editorial content."


Talking about the game plan for brands when it comes to trendjacking, Shrivastava highlighted, "While it's tempting to join in on trending topics, it's crucial to balance this impulse with authenticity. The essence of content marketing lies in understanding the desired ROI."


Underscoring how Spotify integrates personalisation into its annual 'Spotify Wrapped', Srivastava voiced, “Personalisation is the foundation of our product, our marketing approach, and how we communicate with our users. In the realm of 'Spotify Wrapped', we tailor content to align with users' preferences through personalised playlists and recommendations. Embracing a playful approach in content marketing, we showcase users' musical tastes and highlight top artists and songs, providing engaging content. This strategy, evolving globally for over a decade, was introduced in India five years ago, offering fascinating insights into user habits. Beyond data provision, we aim to depict users' personas, emphasising identity and self-expression, which resonates with users and attracts brands, artists, and influencers." 


Influencers should prioritise authentic partnerships


The content creator, on the panel, Shah accentuated the importance of 'authenticity,' stating that she prioritises partnerships that align with her values and resonate with her audience.


"Today, brands value authenticity and inclusivity, encouraging creators to genuinely test products before endorsing them. For instance, when promoting beauty products, the goal is to ensure the language used reflects genuine benefits to my audience. Currently, with my collaboration with a sunscreen brand, the intent is to prioritise my well-being allowing thorough product testing before endorsement. This approach helps us differentiate between brands that align with our values and those that don't, fostering meaningful connections with our audience while delivering value to brand partners," expressed Shah. 


Content creation in the fast lane


Decoding how brands and content creators should uphold quality standards while adhering to tight deadlines, Srivastava, shared. "In our workflow, every piece of content undergoes a rigorous scripting and approval process to ensure it meets our standards. We prioritise maintaining the integrity of our content."


Talking about Pocket Ace's content feed and how they cope with tight schedules from clients, Shrivastava noted, "From the extensive planning required for web series spanning months to the quicker turnaround for casual videos like Instagram Reels, each demands attention. Yet, the unwavering commitment to quality should remain constant and driven by our dedication to the audience and responsibility to clients. Every piece undergoes rigorous scripting and approval to maintain our standards, though this may sometimes affect deadlines. Despite challenges, we advocate for comprehensive storytelling, recognising that longer formats better convey nuanced messages than shorter ones." 


Spotify's Srivastava echoed the same sentiments by stating that consistency in quality should remain non-negotiable and there should be no room for repetitive mistakes.


"Establishing a clear process for content creation and distribution is crucial, involving defining the framework, tonality, and distribution strategy upfront to streamline approval processes and reduce turnaround times. Collaboration with agency partners and stakeholders, alongside building internal capabilities, is key to executing campaigns efficiently. Moreover, Brand safety is paramount, requiring mindfulness of content categories, risks, tonality, treatment, and protagonist choice. Additionally, continuous monitoring of content performance, influencer partnerships, and advertising placements is vital for maintaining brand integrity. Hence, the onus lies on proactive management to navigate the complexities of content creation and distribution in today's dynamic digital landscape,” Srivastava expressed.


Leverage content to probe positive change


Highlighting a successful collaboration with a client who shares Pocket Ace's vision of utilising content for positive change, despite operating within a regulated sector, Shrivastava said, "Cipla with their forward-thinking approach has been invigorating, resulting in the creation of a series of impactful videos. These videos have sparked engaging conversations among our audience, prompting us to consider the effectiveness of traditional ATL (above-the-line) methods compared to content-driven engagement.” 


Shrivastava highlighted the potency of creative flexibility, enabling the development of long-term campaigns that accurately measure ROI and brand equity. 


“Reflecting on past campaigns, such as the Poonam Pandey example, authenticity and audience resonance have emerged as crucial factors for success. Clickbait doesn’t work anymore. As marketers and publishers, we continually analyze and adapt to consumer preferences, aiming to create content that not only captures attention but also fosters meaningful dialogue and reflection”, stated Shrivastava


Brands acing the trendjacking game


Probed by the moderator on which brand has mastered the art of trendjacking, Srivastava opined, "What's resonating with me is Zomato. They understand their audience's needs perfectly, and when the opportunity arises, they capitalise on it effectively."


For Shah, it was the Mumbai Police's social media handles. "One of my favourite social media creators is the Mumbai Police. It would be beneficial for all brands to take a cue from them and adopt a similar approach by humorously conveying their message whilst building anticipation amongst its followers," signed off Shah. 

Campaign India

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