Sapna Nair

The ‘30-minute commercial’ formula

From blatant product placements in television programmes to brand names vying for attention in movies, there have been numerous innovations in marketing products. The latest in this genre are advertiser funded programmes

There’s one problem that plagues both the advertiser as well as the viewer with respect to advertisements. While the advertiser finds it difficult to engage the viewer with his ads, the viewer is not motivated enough to watch them sincerely. The advertiser has now found a way out of this problem through ‘advertiser funded programmes’ (AFPs) on television.

An AFP is conceived keeping in mind the objectives of both the advertiser and the channel on which the show will be aired. It allows convergence of content and advertising in a creative and culturally, socially relevant manner. For the channel, it means good money. For the advertiser, it means good reach, visibility and viewer engagement for his brand.

‘Cadbury Bournvita Confidence Champion’ on Sony Entertainment Television; ‘Rin Mera Star Super Star’ on STAR Plus; ‘Close-Up Speed Dating’, ‘Parachute Zoom Holi Party’, ‘L’Oreal Elite Model Look ’06’, ‘Kuoni Hotspots’ and ‘Levi’s Diva Quest’ on Zoom are just a few of the AFPs being aired today on television. Zee TV will soon join the league with a show called ‘Nerolac Impressions Rang Jama De’.

However, both channels and advertisers need to conform to certain prerequisites in order to create a successful AFP. Issues such as whether the brand being promoted is in sync with the viewer and whether the brand’s promotion is too direct and loud have to be dealt with cautiously.

Pranay Anthwal, GM, Starcom Entertainment, cites other parameters such as the objective of the brand, the timing of the show, the fit between the show, its tone and the brand’s values and the competition’s use of similar tactics.

For instance, ‘Rin Mera Star Super Star’ was a concept that emerged out of the on-ground events employed by Rin, which involved one lakh kids from 22 cities. “Since we were carrying out on-ground contact programmes, it was the obvious thing to conclude the communication with a television show along the same lines,” explains Anita Karnik, national head, Branded Entertainment, MindShare Fulcrum.

The objective of MindShare Fulcrum was to amplify the brand’s message and make an integrated programme out of it. So, in this case, as Karnik puts it, the objective gave birth to the content, unlike most other times, when brand associations happen after the content is created.

On the other hand, some advertiser funded properties on Zoom have emerged out of programming being created first, followed by the brand association. “We create programmes that are within the milieu of Zoom, keeping in mind a particular kind of advertiser and then approach them with proposals,” says MK Anand, business head, Zoom.

He says that it’s a difficult task to get the consent of the advertiser on the programme’s content, but once this is tackled, both work closely so that the brand’s basic theme is congruent with the channel’s programming content. Zoom’s ‘Parachute Zoom Holi Party’ featured celebrities at a Holi party with a Champi Zone. This was in line with Parachute’s message of getting a ‘champi’ (head massage) done before playing Holi.

This way, the brand and the programme both benefit from each other. “Over time, consumers learn and retain much more of the brand’s attributes and core values through low involvement processing and association, than much of the classical in-your-face advertising,” says Anthwal.

Media experts say that an AFP communicates the brand message and values in a slow and subtle manner, unlike a 30-second commercial, which is more forced. So, does this mean that AFPs will overpower television commercials?

“An AFP can be like a 30-minute commercial instead of a 30-second one,” says Nandini Dias, vice-president, Lodestar Universal. “And if one can make it relevant to the consumers, they will come back to watch more.”

According to Anthwal, a 30-second commercial is easily scalable, less prone to the risks of programming and can be calibrated to the brand’s marketing needs. “Moreover, for short-term needs, there’s no alternative to the conventional TV commercial,” he confesses. An AFP, on the other hand, erupts out of long-term thinking and provides better viewer engagement and experiences that last longer.

“It will also differentiate advertisers vying for attention from viewers, whose attention spans drop day upon day. Big advertisers certainly have an advantage in using this platform to differentiate themselves,” Dias says. She cites the example of a half-hour programme on Zoom on the making of the Whirlpool ad featuring actors Ajay Devgan and Kajol.

An AFP scores over an IPP (in product placement) in a number of ways. Chief among these: An IPP, most often, leads to product placements that do not synchronise with the content, but projects the products in an explicit manner.

Media planners are optimistic about the future of AFPs in India. In fact, some are of the opinion that AFPs are still at a nascent stage and their future looks bright, thanks to a recent notice issued by the Information & Broadcasting Ministry on cutting down of advertising time on TV and the growing disinterest of viewers in commercials.

© 2006 agencyfaqs!

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