Newsmakers 2020

From unusual product launches to cloud kitchens taking off and recycled content on television, what the year looked like

Roughly two months into the lockdown, with multiplexes still shut, producers of big-ticket movies decided to release their titles on OTT platforms
Roughly two months into the lockdown, with multiplexes still shut, producers of big-ticket movies decided to release their titles on OTT platforms


In light of the anti-China sentiment and the subsequent ‘vocal for local’ initiative by the Indian government, over 250 Chinese apps were banned in India, including the hugely popular short-form content platform TikTok, PUBG Mobile, AliExpress, SheIn and others. As the app was unceremoniously ushered out of the country, TikTok users and influencers migrated to other platforms including Instagram (for its Reels product), and local apps like Chingari, Roposo, etc.

Anti-viral rage

The pandemic meant all sorts of unusual product launches by brands; from Mayur Suitings and ZOD! Clubwear to Arvind Fashions and Birla Cellulose, ‘anti-viral’ shirts and fabrics were peddled as solutions to combat Covid-19. Welspun, too, launched anti-viral terry towels, bed linens, rugs and carpets. Samsung even came out with an air conditioner range equipped with its ‘Virus Doctor’ technology.

Big three exits

The media industry was taken by surprise in October this year, when Uday Shankar announced that he was stepping down as president, The Walt Disney Company APAC, and Chairman, Star & Disney India. Earlier in the year, Sudhanshu Vats quit Viacom18 Group as its CEO & MD and moved to Essel Propack. And in November, Tarun Katial, CEO, ZEE5, announced that he was moving on.

OTT-theatre drama

Roughly two months into the lockdown, with multiplexes still shut, producers of big-ticket movies decided to release their titles on OTT platforms. Movies such as Gulabo Sitabo and Shakuntala Devi (Amazon Prime Video), Laxmii and Dil Bechara (Disney+ Hotstar) were among the first to opt for direct-to-digital premieres. Multiplex owners cried foul as they feared this could significantly dent their business when they resumed operations.

RIL’s acquisition spree

Oil-to-telecom conglomerate Reliance Industries entered e-commerce in 2020 with a bang. The company acquired three start-ups — Netmeds, Zivame and Urban Ladder — and launched its online grocery platform JioMart. The buyout of Future Group’s retail business and the deal with Facebook, too, were aimed at strengthening its grocery and e-commerce play.

Cloud kitchens took off

With a drastic decline in out-of-home consumption, restaurants such as Lite Bite Foods and Impresario Handmade Restaurants hopped on to the cloud kitchen bandwagon, launched delivery platforms and introduced DIY meal kits. QSRs like Burger King shifted focus to takeaways and deliveries, and introduced a delivery app.

Agency streamlining

WPP, the world’s largest advertising holding company which has been bringing together agency brands to create a simplified network, merged Grey Global with AKQA, and VMLY&R with Geometry, this year. In India, The Glitch was added to the VMLY&R network. dentsu international went into restructuring mode this year. Aside from brand consolidation, the agency network reportedly plans to lay off about 6,000 staffers.

Nostalgia on TV

For three months, GECs recycled content as shooting was on hold. Viewers found comfort in watching reruns of mythological shows like Ramayan and Mahabharat. A single telecast of Ramayan on April 16 clocked 7.7 crore viewers. The most-awaited live sporting event, IPL, was held in the UAE without an audience from September 19 to November 10. Not only did it revive advertising spends, attracting nearly Rs 3,000 crore in advertising for broadcaster Star Sports, but also outdid previous editions of IPL in terms of viewership.

Read Also: After Hours: Kabir Jeet Singh, CEO and co-founder, Burger Singh

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