Artistes like Naezy, Knox Artiste, Prabh Deep and Ritviz are singing with brands. Unlike jingle-like brief ad copies, these associations lead to complete music videos designed to be hummable, shareable and to be a part of playlists.
The 2019 production Gully Boy, a feature film about the underground Indian rap scene helped zoom in on the 'others' in the Indian music scene. This supernova, the shock wave of which rippled through digital mediums, created lots of smaller instant stars. It's not that they hadn't worked hard for it but suddenly, they achieved a significant amount of the mainstream limelight. And brands like limelight.
Branded music videos used to be the refuge for alcobev brands that are barred from going la-la-la across mediums of mass outreach. Today, brands across segments are taking to such videos for ads. These ads feature smaller non-mainstream stars who have a decent digital presence, which at times might seem bigger than mainstream faces as well. We did witness a spurt in 'rap' ads right after Gully Boy but that was more about rap.
BookMyShow just launched its brand campaign in the form of a music video featuring Punjabi rapper Prabh Deep (35.6K subscribers on YouTube). Pepsi partnered rapper Knox Artiste for Har Ghoont Mein Swag (2.28M subscribers on YouTube), so did OYO for its O Yo Yo music video. Edutech brand Unacademy partnered rapper Naezy (638K subscribers on YouTube) for its Let's Crack It! Anthem. Naezy also crafted the Rukta Nah track in partnership with OnePlus.
In a way, all these are efforts that mirror what brands like Bacardi did over years as part of their surrogate advertising. As a strategy, this closely resembles Liggi, a viral music video launched as a part of the Bacardi Sessions series and crafted by Ritviz, a digital first singer, DJ and dance music producer.
It looks like brands are out to make the most of the quick fame as none of these are long term associations or endorsement deals. But how do they get the fit right? It probably has to with the followers and audience base these artistes command - what the industry calls 'amplification' of campaigns. After all, we are talking millions of views.
Ashutosh Harbola, chief executive officer, Buzzoka, an influencer marketing agency, maintains that there isn't a set of qualification metrics for a brand selecting a rising star. He says, "It is basically about who fits the marketing mix of a certain campaign. There can be hundreds of reasons for the selection, but eventually the first hand appeal to audience is what matters."
"The trend of using upcoming musicians or non-mainstream artistes is either part of moment marketing or capitalising on the audience that the individual appeals to. For example, Let's Crack It Anthem by Unacademy is a perfect blend of both Naezy's topical fame as well as his struggles as an artist connecting back to the problem that Unacademy solves as a product. On the other side, if you see Ritviz’s Liggi video for Bacardi, it is about tying up with the persona of the artist that created Udd Gaye. With Udd Gaye, Ritviz created his flamboyant image pegged with EDM and hip hop culture that is picking up in India. Bacardi was smart enough to capitalise on this. Both the above examples are basically great pieces of selection by these brands, considering the value proposition they have driven out of them," Harbola adds.
Carlton D'Silva, chief executive officer and chief creative officer, Hungama Digital Services, says, "Some of them are big. The main reason behind bringing such artistes on board is reach and an appeal to the brands core TG. If you see, all the brands here serve an audience that is predominantly millennial and Gen Z. They listen to these artistes and they are mainstream in their eyes. It's a great way to garner some pertinent eyeballs and in turn, reach out to their TG more effectively. A good song adds more bang for your buck because now that has more visual as well as audible appeal, enabling you to use that piece of communication on more marketable mediums."