When does a condom compete with a digestive and a taxi app? When all want to pun on the same event on social media. We spoke to Shradha Agarwal, COO, Grapes Digital that's big on this style.
We couldn't help notice a considerable rise in the way brands are attempting to leverage topical, time-sensitive and responsive communication as a way of driving engagement and social media reach. Harmonising the content with the context, at the right time and place, is something that has remained Amul's forte for the longest time. But now, marketers find these "golden opportunities" and are doing everything possible to get themselves featured in all those "in-the-moment" conversations.
As we increasingly see brands being reactive as the way forward, we chat with Shradha Agarwal, COO, Grapes Digital, on how to make effective moment marketing work for brands.
Given today's digital world, a single Tweet or Facebook post is all it takes to get consumers hooked to a brand and therefore, the brand needs to make their marketing topical.
Let's start with some 'behind-the-scenes' moments of the two most recent quirky creatives produced by the agency for a client - a premium condom brand, i.e. Manforce.
Apparently, the Delhi-based agency's office cafeteria is where it all started. "The World Cup semi-finals were streaming on the TV with a casual party thrown to watch and celebrate the match in the evening, but rain, of course, turned out to be the spoilsport and dampened all our excitement... People started moaning about why the match wasn't taking place and when 'the covers would come off'. The team found inspiration from this 'cover' analogy to come up with the concept of how people badly wanted the pitch cover to come off, but there are some covers (condoms) that should always stay on," Agarwal outlines.
She also gave us a sneak-peek into how everything came together at the right time to make the Arnab creative a success. "The big-screen installed in our cafeteria was streaming election results since the morning. Mehak (account director for Manforce) excitedly told us about a notification she'd received on InShorts about the Arnab incident and asked the team to quickly brainstorm on what our possible take could be. We knew that timing was supremely crucial for a moment post like this, so we decided we'd go ahead with the 'Dear Arnab..' route. Our clients from Mankind Pharma were very supportive in giving us instant approvals," she recalls.
The pressure on creative agencies to churn out impeccably interesting stuff for their respective clientele can turn out to be overwhelming, given timeliness are key. Agarwal also shares other factors that are at play here -
"Today, the biggest challenge, apart from time, is identification, creativity, execution, approval, and media. Plenty of times the identification of a moment where you could plug your brand in, is a huge challenge, especially in cases where the client does not have a listening tool/team intact. There are times when the agency misses the bus and the client points it out or both client and agency miss it. Once you have identified the moment, the right creative execution, in that little time-frame, is very important. Once it is cracked, the next big hurdle is approval from the client who is, in the end, going to say 'yes 'or 'no'. Then, let's say a creative made the cut and crossed all the above hurdles; the biggest problem becomes amplification. A lot of the time the brand does not offer any media budget for it to reach the right audience and knowing the organic reach of a social post today, relying on that is a complete waste. Now, imagine doing all the above in a mere four to six hours. Yes, it is a tough task that creates a huge amount of pressure," she explains.
As far as being politically correct is concerned, it's about finding the right zone where the brand personality intercepts the concerned incident. She says, "There are certain legalities and guidelines that we do have to follow as a responsible brand that's also a market leader."
We quizzed her about what she thinks can go wrong with such executions, given the deadlines. She shares her agency's insights and how they go about it. "We have a listening tool in place and have identified keywords which creates notifications every time they appear on the internet. Apart from these, we also have a planning team who pre-empts/identifies moments in advance to create content around them. Once identified, we get the team to quickly huddle up and brainstorm on an idea, draw it on paper and get approvals from the client on the phone. Once approved, the finer execution starts and the content is rolled out. The biggest hurdle is design; while everything can be pulled, a wrong art execution can kill the whole concept," she admits.
"At times, a good creative goes down the drain because someone at the client's end thinks it's too bold, cheeky or controversial and wants to play it safe," Agarwal adds.
"We don't work as an agency to our client, we work like partners," that's the agency's mantra to crack speedy client approvals. "For anything important, we have the liberty to call the client anytime. The second-best way is WhatsApp groups, where all the stakeholders are added from the client's end, across hierarchy and hence, feedback and decision-making processes become easier," Agarwal explains.
"Instead of making the art execution too heavy, we rely on simple minimal typography-based creatives. A little average job on the art is acceptable as long as the thought and copy are strong," she tells us.
Clearly, brands love living in the moment and a lot of them start punning on the same topic because those moments are common in everybody's marketing calendar, be it the recently concluded elections or the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup. What's more interesting to note here is that brands nowadays, seem to compete with peers across categories as the event being punned on is common to all. Otherwise, who would've thought Hajmola, Uber, KFC India, and Manforce would become potential rivals in this space. Even Agarwal admits to this saying, "... we are not competing with our industry, but anyone and everyone from the digital space."
Zomato with its 'Bharatiya Janta, Party!' creative, Netflix with its 'Sacred Games' inspired take on the World Cup semi-finals and Fevicol's 'Mazboot Jod' are some of Agarwal's personal favourites.
"All these brands are trying to top the consumer mind space with their attempts at moment marketing and inadvertently, they also end up giving us some inspiration or learning that we take with us in our subsequent attempts to tap moments," she states.
Grapes Digital was founded by Himanshu Arya in 2009 as a tech company. The marketing vertical was started in January 2015 when it started offering services like digital strategy, social, media buying, influencer, and video production apart from developing websites, ecom and apps. Some of its Key clients include Manforce Condoms, Bajaj Finserv, Logitech, Maxxis, Akash Digital, Joy, amongst others.
"The thought was to become a one-stop destination for brands, for all their digital needs," says Agarwal as a lot of brands had different partners executing projects for them and all were working in silos. "The positioning was very clear for us right from the start - your digital partner who understands your business objective and not just the marketing objective and identifies digital solutions to tackle them," she concludes.