Enough has been said about 2020. Campaign India is closing out the year by asking industry leaders about what has this different year taught them and what do they want from the year that comes up.
Here's what Aditya Bhat, head, Jio Creative Labs, had to say:
One learning from the magical year 2020?
2019 gave us hope for an exciting 2020, albeit that was transient in nature; 2019 was an exciting year that saw the World Cup and the General Elections and 2020 was deemed to be the year that would carry this excitement forward, which it did until the onset of the pandemic. While the year started on a robust note, as the world reeled from the pressure of Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown, one saw a significant dip in this excitement for the New Year. While 2019 saw a rise in OTT consumption, but as the world started bracing up for the new normal, 2020 witnessed a massive shift from traditional to digital mediums- even of brands who never thought digital would be big for them.
Advertising metamorphosed amidst the lockdown; in an attempt to appease the consumers of the new normal, brands reformed their positioning and began highlighting the safety measures undertaken by them to stay afloat in the market. Not only brands within FMCG categories like soaps, hand washes, fabric washes etc., but also categories like apparel or paints gained a new germ-free positioning and started talking about the safety as well as the germ-kill factor of their products.
Owing to the safety norms, dependency on edit based ads increased to propel ad campaigns as production came to a halt. Following this came a wave of advertisements that thanked the frontline warriors, not just from brands but also from the Government that used advertising as its primary medium to reach the masses illustrating the importance of staying indoors, sanitising and wearing a mask. Furthermore, PSAs and societal marketing became the forefront of most brand ads and communication.
Innovative storytelling became pivotal during the unlock phase; as production recommenced with adherence to the safety norms and physical distancing, creativity and storytelling once again took centre stage in a big way. Use of celebrities and digital influencers became massively innovative too - with video call driven direction and the celeb’s home becoming the set in most cases. There was an unprecedented consumer shift towards experiential content as they want to 'feel' after being indoors for so long. Lockdown also cranked up consumption of podcasts and audiobooks thus becoming an effective format for content creators to draw consumers. Consequently, it became important to be innovative in brand storytelling and to integrate technology for standing out and creating a mark in the sea of Covid specific communication.
Passion for everything Swadesi was reignited; strained relations with China and the banning of popular apps like TikTok gave immense importance to everything Swadesi. Vocal for Local was no longer a buzzword, rather it was the need of the hour. We saw this mind-set seep into brand communication as well. For instance, Micromax attempted a comeback with a desi reformation amongst others who were propelling the Make in India thought process diligently.
Festive season saw the same gusto with a twist of COVID tailored communication; even during festivals, brands spoke about the festivities but within the realm of the current environment. Like we saw Facebook’s recent ad film ‘Pooja Didi’ that talks about the job losses due to the pandemic while perfectly placing the brand purpose at the centre of this situation.
‘Jugaad’ would be the perfect way to encapsulate the year in one word. In a quintessentially jugaadu manner advertisers and marketers found ways to advertise and sell their products, irrespective of the conundrums we are facing. It’s a perfectly Indian word that also matches the sentiment running in the country today. All in all, it was an eventful year with a few highs and many lows- but truly a rollercoaster of a year in every sense.
One thing you want from the year 2021?
We are ready to take communication to the next level in the year 2021. The lines between conventional settings and advertisements are going to get blurred. Advertising is no longer going to be an intrusive medium that people can simply skip on the digital platform, rather it will be to place itself seamlessly in the minds of the consumers. Campaigns that will tell compelling stories are going to be the ones that have a distinct top of mind recall as being demonstrated internationally as well. For instance, Google pulled all its perspectives into a film like Lion and incorporated Google Earth into the storyline. Thus, brands should aim to blend the functional aspects of the product with the emotional purpose layer to avoid clichéd product films. The thought process is to look at advertising communication from a storytelling and entertainment lens, thereby instilling it within the brand’s very DNA and eventually accomplishing the next level of communication.