Every evening now thanks to my two sons, the whole house reverberates with the cackle of cricket commentators and descends into cricket frenzy. And as a meddlesome middle aged observer who is not much into cricket, I keep observing all the content flowing during the commercial breaks.
Many a times I am transported to the single screen first-day-first-show era of the seventies. At that time cinema screening was all about reels and projectors. And to save the cost of reels, producers would provide one set of reels to be circulated amongst two or three cinema halls. Suddenly at a crucial point of a movie, the lights would come on in the theatre amidst screams and whistles. For the next ten minutes or so the lights would stay on and the catcalls continue. And members of the audience who had ventured into the projector room would announce that the next reel is on its way on a cycle. The movie will begin as soon as the next reel arrives. Till then it was samosa, chai and catcall time.
That was an archaic technique of cinema screening. Film projectors are a thing of the past with movies being sent to exhibitors on hard drives with digital keys and screened through digital projectors. While that has changed dramatically the technique for ad scheduling in this era of apps, OTT and virtual reality seem to be stuck in an anachronistic era.
Take Virat Kohli and IPL 2019. Naturally the brands that he endorses have gone into overdrive in terms of ad scheduling. But the problem is they are scheduling the same ad even when the situations are different. At a very simplified level of planning, during the game the following five core situations can happen - Virat bats well, Virat gets out early, Virat takes an amazing catch, Virat wins as captain and Virat loses as captain. And given the level of passion amongst avid followers of the game each of these instances is an immersive situation.
Now imagine Virat saying ‘Tread Anywhere’ because of the tyres of his SUV, just after getting out for a low score. That is what is happening today.
Instead it will be terrific if brands can create five bespoke versions of their core ad theme to be cast during each instance. So if Virat gets out cheaply then the tyre brand airs a variant of their core ad which is not just about conquering uncharted territory but also about bouncing back from a mechanical failure.
If he loses the match as a captain then the brand airs a variant about not just conquering rugged terrain but about sportsmanship and about rising from defeat. And today's technology allows for matching these variants with each instance, thereby ensuring that audiences see a relevant side of the brand creating a deeper connect.
It's time for the Indian Premier League to also become a showcase for the Integrated Programming League.
Another area of programming lethargy is celebrities in almost connected situations.
Ranveer Singh talking to his wife Deepika Padukone about an air conditioner. And then Ranveer Singh is about to go off on a trip with Alia Bhatt asking him about his breakfast with a lot of concern. A tad perplexing.
Or you are watching Deepika talking to Ranveer about marriage and air conditioners. And in the next break, Deepika is talking to Ranbir Kapoor about anti bacterial wall surfaces. Great brands, good ads but the scheduling can make them so much more impactful and less confusing.
Let's say in one match only the air conditioner ad runs. And Alia's breakfast ad can become the focus during another match without any air conditioner whirring.
And while all this is going on, grandpa Aamir Khan enters with his "Kaunsa Wala Bablu?" No matter what the situation is on the cricket field, there are smiles within the household audience.
Win or lose situation. Last over. Game can go either way. Tension. And there comes Big B introducing us to a unique individual. No Kafkaesque metamorphosis of man turned into a cockroach like Gregor Samsa but a laugh inducing ad of a man turned into a turtle- a certain Mr. Sharma. The whole household reverberates with laughter. Even in today's technology driven world genuine humour has no programming challenge.
((The author is a senior consumer marketing and financial services professional based in Vietnam who has lived and worked in India, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai. His best-selling book "Marketing Chronicles" is available on Amazon India, Flipkart and at key online/ physical book stores.)