Abid Hussain Barlaskar

At what point does a long-form ad become digital content?

We analyse Culture Machine's new 5.5-minuter to explore this.

A daughter who wants to delay conception, stressed out by the social pressure of bearing a child while constantly worrying about the effect of ageing on fertility, is relaxed by her mother. The mother suggests In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) as an option to the seemingly worried daughter so that she can freely choose to bear a child later in life. This is what unfolds over the five and half minutes of 'The choice', the latest digital ad film for Indira IVF, In Vitro Fertilisation clinic. The ad film was published on Blush, a women's lifestyle channel by Culture Machine, the digital media company that also crafted the film.

At what point does a long-form ad become digital content?

Indira IVF's latest ad film, The Choice

The digital ad might seem like a film about IVF, the concept, and not Indira IVF, the brand. The brand communication is subtle and one would surely miss it if not for the magazine at 1.04 minutes into the film’s timeline along with the final brand message in the end, of course. 'The Choice' is a sequel to an 8-minute long ad film, 'Methi ke Laddoo' also published on Blush. It is also a part of the long-running mother-daughter series on the channel.

At what point does a long-form ad become digital content?

Indira IVF's ad film Methi ke Laddoo from March 2018.

The race for creating eye-catching and thumb-stopping content for the swift and choosy digital crowd is real, but how much does such subtle delivery really do for the brand? What does it take for a long-form ad film to stop looking like an ad all together?

At what point does a long-form ad become digital content?

Nitiz MurdiaRakshita Swami, VP - Brand Labs, Culture Machine, sheds light on the hows and whys about the ad film. “We never thought of making an ad and doing that would defeat the purpose. The point of creating content like this is to create a long investment over the way you want your brand to be positioned and it’s not just about solving a specific medical issue. It has a larger perspective on the taboos and stigma surrounding IVF. The idea was to not push branding into people's faces; it is supposed to open up conversations instead of creating propaganda. Through that relevant conversation, people can connect with the brand and what the brand stands for," Swami says.

The ad is clearly progressive in its approach and it attempts at shifting the image of IVF from a problem-solving medical procedure to a personal life choice.

At what point does a long-form ad become digital content?

Rakshita Swami"It all came from the understanding of how IVF is perceived in the society. More than just showing what IVF can do, it is important to clear the misconception around it. Of things like motherhood as an option, adoption, IVF, etc. none should be taboo and there is a need to open up conversations about these ideas. Ideas like adoption, avoiding conception for a career or other life goals, are surrounded by stigmas like not passing your genes to your child. Motherhood and parenthood is such a personal decision and social dogmas should not come in the way. This is what fuelled the film," Swami adds.

Speaking about the challenge of creating an ad for a procedure like IVF, which is neither a service nor a physical product, Swami says, "We never faced that challenge as the ad was never about IVF as a procedure, but the freedom of choice. The problem that we were solving was different. It was easy to look at IVF from the progressive perspective; having an empowering conversation about freedom of choice and something that is not dictated to us by others."

Nitiz Murdia, director, marketing, Indira IVF, spoke with afaqs! about how the ad tweaks the image of the IVF procedure from a solution to infertility to a free choice, “The idea for 'The choice' bloomed from the reactions of social media followers to our first film 'Methi ke Laddoo'. When ‘Methi ke Laddoo’ was put on social media, it drew comments asking why the mother had to pressurize her daughter to bear a child and why not opt for adoption or not have a child at all. We decided that we had to talk about it too. We basically said that IVF is not a solution to a problem, but an option, among others and a person is free to choose.”

This ad was directed at individuals who wanted to delay conception due to personal choices like career focus, late marriage etc. We are saying that you don't have to budge with social pressure. Even if you are delayed, IVF is always available as an option. We asked Culture Machine for a real-life situation derived directly from what people are suffering from in society." Murdia adds.

When asked about what to expect from the collaboration with Culture machine, Nitiz has this to say, "There are many other problems; for example, infertility is considered a female problem and people rush to a gynaecologist instead of an infertility expert. The next films might be centred on this."

Here’s what our experts thought about the film:-

At what point does a long-form ad become digital content?

Praful AkaliPraful Akali, founder and MD, Medulla Communications, says, “The subtle branding will, in fact, go a long way in making the ad more effective. Currently, the trust level amongst consumers is so low on healthcare services like IVF, that overt advertising is not effective at all."

Akali opines that the challenges of crafting an ad for medical procedures like IVF are huge. "IVF, as one can imagine, is an extremely high involvement category because it affects all aspects of your life. There are a number of factors that can affect the choice of a brand rather than the traditional single-minded proposition that FMCG brands talk about. There is a very long marketing funnel with several decision points that need to be addressed. It is one of the few times that I’m seeing a medical services category being addressed well in India, especially a category as delicate as IVF. The ad could, of course, have been significantly tighter and more impactful, but it makes up with the relevance and the depth of the insight,” Akali adds.

At what point does a long-form ad become digital content?

Ashwin PalkarAshwin Palkar, SCD, Dentsu Webchutney, has this to say, “The digital audience today, is consuming content that looks and sounds real even if it’s branded. Subtlety is always great, it adds authenticity, but what’s more important is its timing in the narrative. That’s really the deal-clincher. 'The Choice' – did just that.”

About the challenges for medical procedures like IVF, Palkar opines, “When there is no physical product or a visible service to sell, there is storytelling. In a country like ours where IVF and infertility are unspoken topics, it becomes extremely challenging for brands to bring out those conversations in the open particularly when IVF isn’t a product or a service and there is nothing to show and sell. In such cases, a 'creative device' or a 'creative format' is your best bet. In this case, it’s the candid dialogue format between a daughter and mother combined with honest storytelling that educates viewers about IVF, subtly.”

“It perfectly mirrors the dilemma every married woman faces today in our country. The ad captures the unspoken emotions very well and what better way to bring that out than an honest conversation between a daughter and a mother. The ad also uses various cues to drive the message of inequality when it comes to women exercising their choices at various stages of life. I’d give Adhiraj, the director, full marks for keeping the conversation and setting relatable and natural to a middle-class house which further drives home the point of affordability and acceptability in today’s world.” Palkar concludes.

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