In these trying times, marketers are in a fix as they must continue to stay relevant and engage with consumers, while keeping their marketing spends in check. According to industry watchers, several brands have slashed their advertising budgets in the last few weeks. Most brands, says Samit Sinha, founder and managing partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting, are in cash-saving mode, as the pandemic has brought a lot of disruptions to their operations.
A recent BARC-Nielsen report states that the advertising volume on television in week 20 (May 16-22) was 23% lower as compared to pre-Covid times (January 11-31). Digital media, too, is seeing a similar trend. As per Shamsuddin Jasani, MD, Isobar India, ad spend on digital was expected to grow 30% in 2020 over 2019. However, in the current scenario, a 13-15% drop is being predicted.
Instead of long-term returns, marketers are looking at quick fixes and instant returns in lesser budgets. Hence, a lot of brands are turning to moment marketing to keep the conversation going and remain in consumers’ consideration set. Brands can be seen latching on to the ‘vocal for local’ trend, the awareness on sanitisation, immunity building, etc, by crafting creatives around them. Globally, too, brands such as Google, Netflix, Twitter, Reebok and Nike have been seen supporting the ‘Black Lives Matter’ human rights campaign.
Riding the trend
The Prime Minister’s call for favouring local products has especially caught the fancy of marketers, with many of them stressing on their ‘Indianness’. Homegrown brands such as Parle Agro and Parle Products have launched digital media campaigns to highlight their Indian origin.
“We wanted to bring the brand to the fore and communicate to consumers about the local origin of our products like Parle-G, Hide & Seek and Parle 20-20,” says Krishnarao Buddha, senior category head – marketing at Parle Products. The company plans to focus most of its communication in 2020 around ‘vocal for local’.
Others such as ITC, Dhara, Lotus Herbals and Borosil have also been singing the same tune.
The heightened consciousness amongst consumers towards health and hygiene is also being tapped by brands. ITC recently launched an ‘immunity song’ on World Milk Day to market its dairy brand Aashirvaad Svasti. HUL, meanwhile, has been campaigning about the immunity boosting qualities of Horlicks.
Dabur India is milking both these opportunities. Mohit Malhotra, CEO, Dabur India, says the company has launched a series of ads on digital media and news channels, as well as created videos as a part of its ‘vocal for local’ campaign, highlighting its “ayurvedic and Indian heritage”.
Most brand experts are unsure of the efficacy of these topical campaigns, and instead recommend focussing on long-term and meaningful communication. “People are not going to buy products just because they have been made in India,” says KV Sridhar, global chief creative officer, Nihilent Hypercollective. According to him, every industry needs to define what ‘being Indian’ means. “For example, telecom companies could stress on the fact that being Indian means better privacy, and hence can serve you better,” he adds.
Neena Dasgupta, CEO and director, Zirca Digital Solutions, believes “riding on hashtags” is not sustainable. “Opportunities will keep coming, but brands need to capture that moment to build communication that lasts,” she says.
Marketers must be mindful of not offending consumer sentiments, says Sinha of Alchemist Brand Consulting, citing the example of the recent Kent RO ad that drew flak for suggesting that domestic help are Covid-19 carriers. “Something that would have drawn minor criticism in normal times, could draw sharp criticism as people are more vulnerable at such times,” he adds.