Traditionally, brand logos have made a quick yet assertive appearance at the end of a film in what experts describe as an 'act of authorship'. Of late, however, more and more brands have started inserting their logos all through their ad films.
These brand logos typically appear in a corner of the frame. Which corner, depends on where the TV channel has placed its own logo. Some ads include not one but two logos because the ad is a promotion of a combination offer on the part of two brands. Take, for instance, the Samsung commercial for its Galaxy Y Duos Lite smartphone. The ad had the Samsung logo hanging at the top left corner and the Reliance logo seated at the bottom left corner of the screen. The offer being promoted was the 'Blue Dot smart deal' through which users could avail 6 GB of free data on the phone with Reliance 3G.
At first glance, this exercise comes across as an attempt on part of brands to maximise those few seconds of TV time each time the ad appears. And, the dual branding seems like an almost justifiable fight for territory. After all, it's all about optimising brand visibility at every chance possible, right? Possibly but there is a scientific explanation too, apparently.
Presence of the brand logo or pack shot all through the ad film serves several purposes. For one, it benefits viewers who tune in mid-ad. If you're flipping through channels and reach one that is airing an ad, perhaps the logo on the screen may grab and hold your otherwise fleeting attention and give you a sense of having 'caught up' with the commercial.
On a related note, presence of the logo may also help if the ad film is an unusually long one as it helps preserve consumer attention; almost like placating the consumer to have patience, stick on and see the ad through, despite its length.
"The presence of the better known company logo lends credibility to a lesser known brand.
This umbrella branding structure is merely a corporate exercise to make the brand bouquet of a company resonate with the parent brand," explains ad film director and head, Asylum Films, Razneesh Ghai (Razy). This is probably the reason the HUL logo appears at the end of an ad for TRESemmé, a shampoo brand that one might otherwise not associate with HUL.
Image management is another objective. For a brand that is trying hard to change the way consumers perceive it, the logo in the corner can help reiterate its efforts.
Take the example of Micromax. The handset brand has recently invested in an image makeover that is reflected in its current spate of communication. The ads have shed their erstwhile simple, earthy, 'desi' feel and now sport a glossy, premium and hard-to-miss international look (they're not just shot overseas but feature international actors, too).
To ease consumers into the change, Micromax shot two versions of its film for its recently launched smartphone Canvas - one with the Micromax logo present at the bottom left corner and one without. "We ran the one with the logo for two months till the TG (target group) became comfortable with this new avatar of Micromax," explains Shubhodip Pal, chief marketing officer, Micromax.
Lastly, one perpetual battle in the ad film production space has been centred on how much air time ought to be allotted to the main ad, vis-à-vis the product window, pack shots and the brand logo towards the end. Clients typically favour pack shots, while agency folk struggle to defend their scripts. There's no denying that airing the logo all through the film may, to an extent, spell ceasefire on this front.
Higher order benefits
While at some level, the trend is symptomatic of marketers' desperation to maximise on-screen time and grab as many eyeballs as possible, this trend also marks a milestone in the evolution and use of brand logos.
According to Mayank Shah, group product manager, Parle Products, the omnipresence of the logo in an ad film ensures consumers -- notorious for their ever-shrinking attention spans -- don't miss out on registering the name of the brand concerned. "Consumers decipher communication at two levels -- the emotional level where they relate to the story and the rational level where they connect with the brand name. What typically happens is consumers buy into the story at an emotional level but the brand takes a backseat. They recall the story but forget the brand," he explains.
So, the logo, when present throughout the communication, acts like a bridge and helps the consumer connect the emotions the story evokes to the name of the brand.
In today's digital era where advertisers are keen to maximise brand visibility online, logo presence in their films is akin to generating earned media on this platform. Also, nowadays, the likelihood of a screenshot of the ad being captured and shared online is high. If the logo is present in every frame of the film, it'll surely appear in every screenshot taken. This way, brand visibility is ensured with each screen grab.
Moreover, at the digital level, consumer patience is deemed to be at its lowest. More often than not, people skip online ads (how many times have you hit 'skip ad' on a YouTube pre-roll?).
But what if one sees the logo in the corner and the brand being advertised is of interest?
"You may just let the film play out," reasons Rajiv Dingra, founder and chief executive officer, WATConsult.
And, even if one doesn't watch the entire ad, at least he's caught the logo for a few seconds; that still counts towards some -- as opposed to no -- branding.
One obvious downside is the visual clutter. First, there's the channel logo, then the brand logo, and if it's a news channel there's probably a ticker moving across the screen. Agency folk sometimes insist on reducing the number of supers in the product window; the same logic applies here.
Firstly, an ad is supposed to engage viewers to the point that they forget it is, by its very nature, an interruption. Putting the logo in the frame right from the beginning is like rubbing into consumers the fact that it is, in fact, a mere commercial message. "People will look at it as an ad and not as content copy," cautions Dingra.
Secondly, the logo may act as a spoiler and ruin a good script that would otherwise have grabbed viewers' attention early on, piqued their curiosity along the way and had them guessing the brand towards the end. It's a bit like revealing the final punch before starting to tell a good joke. "If you have a really good script, you've given it away right at the beginning by revealing the brand logo," sighs Razy, recalling Intel's commercials that often run a quick two to five-second logo window right at the beginning of its ads. "That's a spoiler too but I prefer it to having the logo present all through," he opines.
Vipin Dhyani, founder and chief creative director, Thoughtshop Advertising & Film Productions, reasons, "If the commercial is imagery-led, it's alright if the logo runs through the film. But if the commercial is story-led or joke-led, the logo may ruin the punch."
And thirdly, stamping one's logo continuously to remind people "This is my ad!" is testament to the level of creative cloning that currently plagues the communication market. Says Bijoor, "Today, the imagery, language, tone, tenor and decibel of ads within a given product category are highly generic and forgettable. So, logo-presence is becoming like a security mark for brands.".
Will this trend live on? Yes, possibly. Perhaps, in the future, these logos may cease to exist as opaque images that block the picture on the screen (the way they do presently) and instead, fade into a translucent watermark of sorts, such that the colours and tones of the logo will no longer fight with the ones on the screen and disturb the second layer of imagery beneath it.
However, some feel the logo will eventually become a blind spot for consumers, because they will, over time, train themselves not to take notice of it.