The sketch looks like content that FilterCopy would normally create, but a watermark at the bottom left corner tells a different story...
OnePlus has had a very busy month. They launched a new line of OnePlus 7 phones, appointed Robert Downey Jr. as brand ambassador, had Bunty from Sacred Games unbox their new phone and even shot the cover pictures for Harper's Bazaar and GQ India magazines. But that's not all... Recently, while procrastinating, one of our reporters, spotted a Facebook post that stated that the brand also collaborated with FilterCopy to create a short 'cutting' sketch. The sketch spoke about a savage foreigner and how he was more desi than all of us.
While researching, we eventually found out that the "actor" in the video was not an actor at all, but the product lead of OnePlus India - Szymon Kopec. In the video uploaded to FilterCopy's Facebook page - a link in the description of the video leads to his profile page. He might not be very active on Facebook, but he does live in India. Another company that famously used its own employee in an ad is Trivago. Abhinav Kumar was the development head for Trivago India and he starred in a series of ads for the company.
We were curious about the kind of impact a film like this would have and wanted to know how to differentiate between organic and advertising content. We spoke to a couple of industry experts to get their opinions...
Shradha Agarwal - COO, Grapes Digital
To be honest, at first, I didn't notice the brand. I loved the content piece but I didn't realise it was shot on OnePlus. The description of the video mentions the name of the product lead and provides a link to purchase the phone from, but it's a task to correlate everything from the eye of a consumer.
If a hundred people have watched the video, I guarantee more than 70-80 per cent have not even noticed that the video intentionally featured their brand manager. I think it's a very smart move. Today, we're going beyond content coming to us as branded USP offerings; we are more global as consumers. We want to know the story behind the product, who the CEO is... Using their product lead in one of these videos is an excellent context, but I think that putting his name only in the copy makes it a task for someone to identify him. Using the product lead in the sketch develops more interest in the content and the brand.
If this video featured an actor, then my consumption of the content and the brand would have been limited. As soon as you integrate the product lead, my brand perception is that OnePlus is an innovative brand that's thinking ahead. When a brand takes such a risk, the brand value increases, not product value. The 'Shot on OnePlus' watermark increases product value.
However, they missed the bus in terms of registering that this is coming from OnePlus. AIB also did a video where they showcased OnePlus' fast charging capabilities. If I watch till the end of that AIB video, I have some recall of the brand and how it was integrated into the script. In FilterCopy's case, it was hard for me to spot the brand integration.
As far as the line between ads and content goes - it doesn't matter. Think of yourself as a consumer - do you really want to differentiate between an ad and a content piece, as long as it's interesting? If I as a consumer, get something on my feed which is interesting - whether it's coming from a brand or from a content creator, I'm okay with consuming it because my product decision is not based on that creative. For me, it's more about brand awareness than anything.
Rakshita Swami - Former VP, Brand Operations, Culture Machine
With the 'Shot on OnePlus' watermark at the bottom of the video, I think the brand integration works well. Publishers, like FilterCopy or Being Indian may already have content slates that they publish every week and if an advertiser comes on board, even if it was something as small as a product plugin, it's a great way to fund your content slate.
For OnePlus, I think it's part of a larger marketing strategy. As opposed to buying traditional media - they're going straight to where the consumers are. They shot cover photos for Harper's Bazaar and GQ India with the new OnePlus phone; they also tied up with Netflix to shoot posters for Sacred Games.
What they've done with FilterCopy is a content plugin that shows you how good the camera quality is. I'm sure the brand won't have to put in as much money if they needed a proper sort of branded integration into the content, but it still does the job because you can actually show the viewer the capability of a product. I think this is more authentic as opposed to a brand simply telling you what it's capable of.
Apple did this as well with their Shot on iPhone campaigns. They used user-generated content on billboards as part of their marketing strategy and it was very effective. Clearly, they're following up from there and the watermark in the video does serve the purpose - it's subtle and it makes the point.
Branded content, in general, is supposed to blur the line between advertising and content. It's supposed to make content palatable, interesting and engaging, irrespective of the brand on board. Just because FilterCopy has done this piece with OnePlus integration, it doesn't mean traditional videos, with more obvious brand integrations, are going to stop.