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ad:tech New Delhi: Story telling in the digital world

By Satrajit Sen , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | February 22, 2013
The opening day of the third edition of ad:tech New Delhi stressed on the need to create more stories that are share-worthy instead of typical advertisements for digital.

The third edition of ad:tech New Delhi 2013's opening keynote was delivered by Wendy Clark, senior vice-president, integrated marketing communications and capabilities, The Coca-Cola Company, who stressed on the need to create more stories that are share-worthy instead of typical advertisements for digital.

"In this age of real-time marketing, it is imperative to think big, start small and then scale rapidly," she recommended while addressing a packed audience. "We are built for scale and if we do not reposition our failure, we will scale the wrong thing perfectly," Clark said in her keynote.

Wendy Clark

Katharyn White

Clark also delved into Coca-Cola's strategy of listening and engagement hubs around the world and how the brand focuses on the three areas of stories, spread and value. She cited the example of the 'Hug Machine' set up by Coca-Cola in the National University of Singapore, which offered a free can of Coke if one hugged the machine. Even though the campaign ran only in Singapore, it became viral globally and generated over 10 million views in the US itself.

According to Clark, today's digital marketers should devise strategies that are share-worthy by creating content that is interesting and compelling. She further stressed on the need to embrace the new sales force, which are consumers willing to carry brand messages ahead, and then engage with them through digital.

Presenting the second keynote, Katharyn White, vice-president, marketing, IBM Global Business Services emphasized on the three imperatives for marketing professionals including understanding the customer as an individual, creating a system of engagement that maximises value creation at every touch and designing the culture and brand so that they are authentically one.

Moderating a panel discussion titled 'Brand Storytelling Gets Tech-ified', Anjali Hegde, CEO, Reprise Media delved upon the days when Indians first encountered the internet. "I remember the modem making a noise when we connected the internet and the page took forever to load. But still we believed that this is a medium of the future and it has emerged to be so today," Hedge said.

Answering a query on whether it is difficult to stay true to the brand story while creatively telling that story to the consumers, Rajdeep Endow, MD, Sapient India and global delivery lead, SapientNitro, was of the opinion that it was not that easy. Giving examples, Endow said that Unilever once wanted to capture the essence of eating an ice cream on digital. SapientNitro created a vending machine at Cannes, which had a face recognition software that could recognise the smile on the user's face and measure their happiness, which could later be shared on social media.

"Here the brand had a definite story and technology just helped it to tell the story effectively," Endow explained.

Deepali Naair, country head, brand, customer service and corporate communications, L&T General Insurance Company delved on general insurance being a tough category to be sold through stories. Hence, she, said, the brand made its distribution channels tech-enabled to achieve the end goal. "Today, we use tablets, mobile phones and flash videos to reach to the consumer directly and thus simplify our distribution channels," Naair added.

Sanjay Tripathy, executive vice-president, marketing, product and direct sales channels, HDFC Life said that the company did a lot of ATL campaigns on traditional media but the main problem with such campaigns was that they were time bound and it was very difficult to sustain a product in the highly competitive financial services market. That is where digital helped as this medium is not time bound and a consumer could consume the content any time.

"We extend most of our ATL campaigns online and hence it gives us the platform for our content being consumed for a longer period and thus helping us in growing the brand," he said.

Nikhil Rungta, country marketing head, Google India said that technology can only help when the story that is told becomes engaging. Giving Google's own example, Rungta said that they tell stories about real people and how technology helped them achieve their goals.

"We promoted Google Chrome with two wonderful stories that spoke about how people can explore the web more and thus help themselves in achieving their goals. Among the two stories, one was of Archana Doshi, a housewife who started her cooking blog which turned into a website. Today, she is a mini celebrity in Bengaluru and thus people related to it. The other story was about Tanjore paintings, a dying art form and how it got more buyers through the web. In all these, we promoted the idea of browsing the web and thus helped Google Chrome as a product get its audience," Rungta revealed.

Another session titled 'Integrated Marketing' focused on how brands can plan, create, execute, and measure cross-channel tactics for advanced digital marketing initiatives. Ajay Kaul, executive director, global brand communications worldwide marketing, Lenovo, said that Lenovo relies on paid media, owned media and shared media while spending on digital.

"In paid media, we look at campaigns and activations on different high-traffic websites and also on social. In owned media, we spend on increasing our own web presence across our corporate websites and blogs and on shared media, we spend on PR. Thus we device our integrated marketing approach," Kaul explained.

Revealing their strategy, Nitin Mathur, senior director and head of marketing, India and Southeast Asia, Yahoo, said that Yahoo promotes its events on newspapers to ensure high participation. "During cricket World Cup, the day of the semi-finals between India and Pakistan, we took a full page ToI ad to promote Yahoo Cricket and we got great results. Hence, at times, to get the critical mass, an internet company also has to look at traditional media and promote its products," he stated.

The session was also attended by Shivanandan Pare, head, e-commerce, Madura fashion and Lifestyle, Aditya Birla Nuvo Ltd; Chandrakanth B N, co-founder and managing director, Theorem India; and Gaurav Seth, senior vice-president, marketing, SET Max.

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