Taking the concept of e-tail therapy to a whole new level is e-commerce marketplace eBay India. Big on story-telling, the company's newly launched digital campaign, is about a young amnesic who re-discovers his likes and dislikes through eBay's wide range of products.
The digital video has been created exclusively for eBay India's channels on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter (#ProjectDiscover and #iDidItList).
Less Branding = More Sharability?
Designed by Webchutney, the film highlights eBay's wide range of product offerings but goes markedly easy on the branding quotient. The brand logo appears in the film all of two times, of which it has been kept out-of-focus - or shall we say, has been strategically blurred - once.
According to Deepa Thomas, e-commerce evangelist, eBay India, the objective of the campaign is "brand engagement."
She elaborates, "The campaign has a different approach; we wanted to show someone who is discovering himself," something a person typically does at a certain life stage or, as in this case, when life leaves one with a clean slate.
"We decided to be light on the branding side, as we want it to go viral. We want bloggers, social media influencers and consumers to share it. If it were an overtly branded film, it would be shared less," Thomas explains, insisting that "too much brand talk" actually reduces the odds of a film being shared online.
She calls the current eBay video a "consumer story," one that has a high propensity of being shared.
"This year, our brand positioning is: whatever you want, you can find on eBay. We have taken away the control from the hands of marketer and given it to the consumer," Thomas says.
eBay is also offering 'personalised feed' for its customers, wherein the portal proactively alerts consumers about the availability of specific items, ones that the user has pre-expressed interest in.
Regading the choice of medium for this campaign, she explains, that roughly, there are over 200 million people logged on to the internet in India, of which 30 million are actively shopping online and another 55-60 million are at least visiting e-commerce sites.
"The opportunity to reach them via a digital campaign is much better than a print, radio or TV campaign," she justifies, "These are all interesting mediums but not the most efficient."
Besides, a three minute film on TV would cost a bomb, she reminds us. "It would look like a small program. On digital, though, people can watch it at their own pace," Thomas says.
Meghna Bhat, digital ECD, Webchutney, says her team, in part, drew inspiration from "some real life events" for this film. Talking about the way the product interface is changing, Bhat adds, "eBay is enabling product discovery on the site."
"The idea was to promote the brand's philosophy," says Bhat, citing that as the reason for staying away from overt branding.
"Otherwise," she reasons, "it would have been a stereotypical ad." The point, she tells us, was to bring out the protagonist's story and position eBay as an enabler.
Published on May 16, the campaign has not yet garnered the desired views on YouTube. But the agency is optimistic.
"We need to understand that it is not TV, where the logo must be present at the bottom right corner of the screen becuase you have only 20 seconds," Gupta reasons.
Sanjeev Jasani, senior vice president and Delhi head of OgilvyOne, Ogilvy's direct and digital marketing arm, finds it "refreshing" that brands are experimenting with the "story-telling format of advertising."
However, he feels the film will fail to generate conversations. He cites two reasons for this prediction: With story-telling, the film needs to be relatable and should evoke emotion. "This film does neither for me. I can't relate to it and no one will. It doesn't make me say 'Oh, I must think of eBay the next time.' Secondly, I don't think it's flogged (or promoted) enough through unpaid media. Search about it on Google and you won't find a thing. This tells me that it's just paid media that's driving the views," critiques Jasani.
Divyapratap Mehta, former national planning director, Publicis Capital, says, "I think eBay is doing a fine job by engaging with consumers beyond selling it's ware." He thinks the film is a "subtle way of justifying consumption."
"It is a small step in the direction of engaging branded content than just hard-sell advertising," says Mehta, who is of the view that "subtle branding" is the way forward. He hopes the video is "just the propellor" and will be integrated across platforms such as "mobile, social, YouTube and the brand's site itself."
For Sairam Ranganatham, digital lead, Maxus West, the film is a tad too long and fails to explain how exactly eBay is helping. "Some people might may not sit and watch," he says, adding, "It would have been better had the brand shown 'how' it helped the protagonist discover himself. That part does not come out all that nicely in the campaign."