The one-size-fits-all approach is taking a back seat when it comes to advertising. The rising demand for vernacular content has made brands turn to localised and culturally targeted advertising, which ensures maximum efficacy in business communication combined with product integration.
Remember the ‘Not A Cadbury Ad’ featuring Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan as Sharmaji, where different content was aired in different geographies with the actor reeling off names of local shops. The data-driven campaign using machine learning was created by Ogilvy India for Cadbury Celebrations, which doubled as communication for Cadbury and thousands of local businesses and was a brilliant example of an online hyper-personalised and relatable creative.
“With local content, brands expect to connect better with consumers of a certain cohort concentrated in a geographical area to get a higher return on investment,” says Anuraag Khandelwal, executive creative director and creative head, 82.5 Communications, an Ogilvy & WPP Group Company. “Localised targeting helps translate offers and messages in circles of influence around retail stores or showrooms the brand might have,” adds Khandelwal, who has worked on PhonePe ‘Tension Chhodo, Insurance Lo’ campaign to shatter the myth of south India being a monolith, and did four different ads for PhonePe insurance — different cast, settings and nuances. For Bisleri, he pioneered language labels in Telugu (AP, Telangana), Marathi (Maharashtra), and Hindi for Uttar Pradesh, not merely to connect, but also to beat the fakes.
“Before the digital age, data was one-sided. Newspapers, magazines, radio stations and TV channels researched their own readership and audience. The efficacy of this method depended on sample size, penetration of the research and a whole host of other uncertainties. With digital marketing, sample sizes are remarkably close to 100%. Insert the brand into the social fabric and become part of the consumer’s conversation,” says Vinod Kunj, chief creative officer, MD, Thought Blurb Communications, the agency that worked on the three new TVCs for manufacturers of biscuits and confectionery Parle Marie. The TVC is targeted at people in West Bengal and draws sustenance from deep regional and cultural traits of the quintessential Bengali. It speaks to Bengalis in their own language, using idiom, grammar and cultural expression that would be best understood by the Bengalis. The TVC is across regional channels like Calcutta News, News18 Bangla, Enterr 10 Bangla, ABP Ananda, Sun Bangla, Zee Bangla and other channels catering to the Bengali market, besides being heavily pushed across social media platforms and YouTube. “The campaign is in line with the voice of the local population, using subjects that are deeply relatable, and in a tone that is immediately understood,” says Mayank Shah, senior category head, Parle Products.
Regional, tailor-made ads raise brand metrics much faster than a national campaign dubbed into a regional language, admits Prashant Agarwal, marketing head, health supplements, Dabur India, who adopted the trend of original regional celebrities five years ago to strengthen brand content. Dabur India uses tailor-made campaigns for top vernacular markets with TVCs for east, south and north India, and over 25-30% of marketing budget is spent on these campaigns, which include e-commerce, non-e-commerce (social media, search and video) and TV, print or outdoor. “Consumers connect with advertising rooted in their region. We have started signing regional celebrities for brand recall. Like honey has different cultural contexts so a relatable campaign with model ambassador Rashmika Mandanna in south, actor Ritabhari Chakraborty for west Bengal and actor Akshay Kumar for north and west works best,” he says.
BARC India’s Think Report on advertiser analysis on channels by language estimates for Q1 2022 suggests Hindi has highest share of new and returning advertisers (48%), Bengali registered highest growth (16%) in number of advertisers over Q1 2021 and so has Punjabi (18%) over Q1 2020; while Tamil has the highest share of exclusive advertisers (54%).
For a differentiated offering, Truecaller with over 300 million active users launched its Desh ka Truecaller, JamTheScam, ChhotaSMS and Call Reason social campaigns which garnered millions of views. “When it comes to penetration in Tier 2 and beyond, nothing beats TV, print, radio and OOH where digital and social media play a supporting role,” says Manan Shah, director, marketing, India & SEA, at Truecaller.
Netflix, too, this year announced Microsoft as its global advertising technology and sales partner to build a new ad-supported offering, giving more choice for consumers and a premium, better-than-linear TV brand experience for advertisers. Social media platform ShareChat operates in 15 Indic languages, has over 180 million-strong monthly active Indic language community, and engages for campaigns with Facebook, Amazon, Myntra and Oyo, to name a few. “We have launched our self-serve ad platform ‘ShareChat Ads’ for SMBs to connect directly with their target audience through micro-targeting and personalised multilingual campaigns,” says Akshat Sahu, director of marketing, ShareChat. The brand has built a robust ad-tech platform to help brands reach scale with native advertising in video and banner assets, and drive impact through the homepage pinned posts that are customised for every brand. “Brands that engage with micro-influencers resonate well with the audience. Creators help break the clutter and draw attention to the brand message in an era of low attention spans,” he adds.