Raahil Chopra
Sep 30, 2021

You have to be always on because the entry and exit barriers are very low in this category: Neha Ahuja, Spotify India

Campaign India catches up with the head of brand marketing to learn more about the campaign with Deepika Padukone, its growth in the country, podcasts, and more…

Neha Ahuja
Neha Ahuja
Spotify India has rolled out its second film for the campaign featuring actor Deepika Padukone.
Conceptualised by Leo Burnett, the campaign looks to promote the ease of using the app with light-hearted films featuring Padukone.

We caught up with Neha Ahuja, head – brand marketing, Spotify India, to learn more about the campaign, the brand’s advertising efforts in the country, growth of podcasts, challenges in the audio streaming industry and more…
Edited excerpts:
The idea behind this campaign with Deepika Padukone? Would you call her a brand ambassador? Will this be a long-term association with more films?
At Spotify, we don’t address the artists we work with, as brand ambassadors. We aren’t looking at them for long term associations; it’s always about looking at the creative story and then at the best personality fitting into it.
Yes, we will be bringing out a few more assets featuring Padukone.
How have previous campaigns with other Bollywood brand ambassadors worked? The one with Anil Kapoor comes to mind as one that was successful…
We worked with Anil Kapoor a lot and it was a great experience. Whether it was about product education on the playlists, or about playing to the category, he was portrayed differently in different environments. With him, too, it was all about the story (about the creative).
So, with each artist, you’re looking at promoting a different product feature. What’s the feature you’re trying to bring out with the association with Padukone?
We are finishing our ‘filmy’ campaign – which is 'Dil filmy toh suno filmy' (if your heart's filmy, then listen to filmy). We know that India listens to a lot of filmy music and Spotify offers that, which is what we were highlighting.
With Deepika, we are entering phase two of the same campaign. Now that we have built consideration and awareness about the brand, this campaign extension is about the ease that Spotify brings to the table. We are focusing on simplicity through these films.
We feel that Spotify is not only for people well-versed in the app world or music streaming, but also for the ones who are new to it. Sometimes, it helps to handhold the user a little, in order to break the inertia and come on to the app.
How has Spotify steered clear of the competition from the likes of Google, Apple etc? How would you profile a Spotify user compared to them?
Spotify is meant for everyone, so anybody who has a smartphone in hand and loves music is a potential Spotify user. That’s why we have such a wide variety of content on the app. We have regional music playlists as well as international playlists for the country.  
The financial results revealed that Spotify grew wide globally during the pandemic. Has the Indian market also seen similar growth?
The last two years were really good for Spotify. Initially, there were a few disruptions in the consumption patterns at the time. We weren’t seeing 'commute' or 'partying hard' playlists. They changed to more of ‘chill at home’, ‘dinner with family’ or ‘chill Friday evenings’ playlists.
Consumption from existing users went up and we saw a huge uptake on trends from new users too, across languages.
Globally, podcasts are rising as a medium and for Spotify, we saw revenue rise by 627% in Q2. There was an India specific campaign in March too. Are we seeing similar growth for podcasts in India as well?
The growth has been exponential in India as well. Gen Zs and millennials have relied a lot on podcasts to manoeuvre their way through the pandemic. We have seen an uptake in consumption of podcasts around mental health and self-motivation significantly.
This is also reflective of the creator side of the business and we are seeing a lot more content creators in the podcast space.
What's the split between your premium and free users in the country? 
We don’t share the split for any market, but India currently is primarily a free-user market.
Are advertisers seeing the value of audio ads educating that is a challenge? How do you educate advertisers about the same?
We all have grown up listening to audio ads. Radio was such an important part of the media-mix. So, audio ads aren’t new. What brands are doing very cleverly, is that they are adapting to the nuances and the new culture of the society. They know what Gen Zs want to consume and what nudges the millennials, and are adapting for that with new audio formats.
We also handhold brands and share best practices and tell them what works with our users. The data we have, helps brands create ads based on the consumer’s behaviour.
What would be the biggest challenges in the industry right now?
It’s a very flirtatious market right now. We do have a lot of streaming apps in India and we have to be top-of-mind and at the top of our game always. You have to always be on for the user, since he has a choice to switch. The entry and exit barriers are very low in this category.
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