Kapil Ohri

Smith & Jones unveils virtual dance academy

The FMCG brand aims to leverage the power of viral-marketing through a large number of branded video films.

Smith & Jones, the manufacturer of instant noodles, sauces and cooking pastes, is all set to capitalise the viral power of the digital medium to build its brand. But, unlike other brands, which create (usually one-off) humour-related viral films, the FMCG brand is going to focus on entertainment and educational videos.

As part of this strategy, the food brand has created a virtual dance academy titled 'Dance Ka Tadka'.

Smith & Jones unveils virtual dance academy
The video clips will be owned by the company and shot exclusively for digital distribution. Interestingly, the academy will not just exist on a single digital destination. Instead, the company will launch and disseminate its dances through more than 500 high-definition, short-duration (2-4 minutes) video clips to teach various dance forms like Salsa, Tango, Jive, Hip Hop, Garba, Dandia and Bhangra videos on various digital platforms. It will launch a dedicated video channel on the Google-owned YouTube.com (
), and partner with telecom operators to distribute how-to-dance videos through their mobile sites, and tie-up with DTH and IPTV companies to make the videos accessible on their video-on-demand sections.

Though the content will be free online, it is still not clear whether the company or DTH operator will charge money from consumers to view Smith & Jones videos.

The company is also contemplating to distribute how-to-dance videos through DVDs. "We are in the process of partnering with a prominent DVD company, which will help us to develop 'Dance Ka Tadka' DVDs and distribute our video content across the country," Ajaay Gupta, chairman and managing director, Capital Foods (owner of the Smith & Jones brand), tells afaqs!.

Smith & Jones unveils virtual dance academy
In terms of branding, all video clips will carry the Smith & Jones logo in all frames, and a short three-second message - to promote the brand - will be inserted at the end of each clip.

It's important to note that no advertiser (in India) has experimented with the branded video content on such a large scale, as yet. Even Virgin Mobile, which tried branded video content with a series called 'India Panga League', produced about 100 video clips, last year.

On the adoption of this unusual route - to create branded content, instead of spending money on advertisements - to build brand in the digital space, Gupta says, "We are actually trying to use viral-marketing of digital platforms through branded content. This initiative will help us build a far stronger brand connect and salience as the viewer will watch/interact with the brand (in a subtle manner) for 2-4 minutes per video, as compared to paid-advertising. Since, we will not be spending or buying the ad space, the return on investment (ROI) will be very high."

The FMCG brand has no plans to push its dance-video content through paid-advertising in the initial phase. Gupta points out, "We will rely on the organic ways and harness the long-tail potential of the digital medium to get traction initially. Later, we may consider the use of digital marketing to boost the seeding and consumption of the video clips."

On opting for dance as a theme for branded content, Gupta says, "Dance, as an expression of human creativity is also a great form of exercise. Smith and Jones encourages a healthy lifestyle by snacking only in moderation and exercising regularly, and dancing can be a fun workout. We hope to contribute a little towards building a healthy India."

afaqs! spoke with a few digital media experts to find out their opinion on the branded content created by Smith & Jones.

Ashish Kashyap, chief executive officer, Ibibo.com says, "With 3G and 4G here, it is for sure that the video content will become big, and the Smith & Jones' dance video series is a good example I have seen in a long time which leverages video in such a neat way."

Prasanth Mohanachandran, co-founder, AgencyDigi, thinks that the possibility of Smith & Jones videos getting a large number of video views will be high. His logic is that educational dance videos created by Smith & Jones are not bound by any time factor. The content of videos will remain relevant and available online forever, unless the company removes it. Thus, consumers can consume or view it anytime they want, be it today, or in the future. Also, a number of people search 'how-to' content on platforms like YouTube, which is the third largest search destination online.

Therefore, the possibility of the Smith & Jones' branded content getting discovered is high.

For the record, Smith & Jones spends more than 30 per cent of its marketing budget on digital media. Its sister brand Ching's Secret, is very active on Facebook (Facebook.com/chingssecret), where it has more than 6.2 lakh fans.