Ashwini Gangal
Marketing

As local language content booms, dubbed advertising loses favour

Ads made in regional languages work much better, agree marketing experts. Read on for highlights of our panel discussion or watch the video below.

It's interesting the way dubbed and subtitled regional content - testament to the regional language boom in India - is being lapped up by people who don't speak the 'original' language, but dubbed advertising is becoming infrequent and mildly off-putting.

On Day 4 of ABP News presents Languages Week powered by Colors Bangla, I spoke to a group of media professionals – two brand marketers, a regional broadcaster and a strategic brand planner – about how advertisers are keeping up with the regional language content boom unfolding across media channels and content genres.

Watch the video below:

Edited excerpts.

Puneet Das, president, packaged beverages, India & South Asia, Tata Consumer Products (who has helmed Tata Tea’s hyperlocal strategy for different regions like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, etc., of late), said, “Tea has so many different regional variations; for us to win at the national level, we have to win in every region. For that we have created 7-8 different campaigns for different regions, in local languages. We’ve departed from the practice of dubbing 'the HSM (Hindi Speaking Market) campaign' in other languages.”

For Das’ region-specific ads, the entire cast and crew, including the writer, director, etc. are all from the state in question.

Amit Tiwari, vice president, marketing, Havells India, said, “70 per cent of India lies in the vernacular markets. One can 'contact' consumers in those markets through Hindi/English, but to 'connect' with them, the campaign has to speak to them in their local language. We cater to 12-13 languages across states, including Kerala, Gujarat, Bengal, Karnataka, the Telugu speaking markets, (among others).”

Regional celebrities as brand ambassadors work better than the Bollywood star couple of the season, he added.

Interestingly, local brand strategy is not just about a region-led communication plan, but also about product innovation – Tata's Das has different blends of tea for different regions (so, ‘kadak’ for Haryana and ‘dumdaar’ for UP are more than just advertising catchphrases); Tiwari of Havells markets fans with speed specifications unique to certain regions (example, the ‘super speed Thalaiva fan’ for Tamil Nadu with above average RPMs or rotations per minute). He also has different ranges of mixer grinders for the North and South markets, because some states consume wet chutneys and others, dry chutneys.

“Brands should speak the consumer’s language, literally and emotionally,” said Jitender Dabas, chief operating officer and chief strategy officer, McCann Worldgroup India, going on to talk about “the efficiency of deployment" that digital media affords, thereby negating any excuse a brand may have previously made for not talking to consumers in local languages. The challenge for brands then is to go beyond language and get aspects like nuance, culture and choice of media channel (print, TV, digital, outdoor, etc.) and genre (GEC, movies, news, etc.) right.

Media vehicles that work for a brand in one state may not work for the same brand in another state. Marketing challenges change from region to region and language to language. Therefore, ‘regional markets’ must not be homogenised.

How do brand planners like Dabas, mostly based in urban India, glean insights for regional campaigns? “Yes, it is a big challenge," he conceded, "The only way is to have more diversity in one’s team and get more talent from smaller towns,” something easy to do in a work-from-home era.

Sagnik Ghosh, business head, COLORS Bangla, said, “National broadcasting and ‘dubs’ (dubbed content) are not the way forward."

As Amin Lakhani, chief operating officer, Mindshare South Asia, pointed out during a panel discussion at the first edition of our Languages Week conference (November 2020), regional media channels get a fair share of advertising from local brands, thereby reducing their dependence on large, national advertisers.

The extent of this, Ghosh clarified, depends on the vibrancy, ‘language pride’ and affluence (health of the local economy, number of local retailers, etc.) of the region and the propensity of that market to spend on advertising. Tamil Nadu, Bengal, the Telugu market (Andhra Pradesh, Telangana) and Kerala are examples of vibrant markets.

Conversely, markets like Gujarat, "that are still under the aegis of Hindi", may not have as strong a stream of local advertisers to take the pressure off regional media.

The panel also fielded questions about the measurement of marketing investments made on regional media, perception-based media buying, and 'impact properties' on regional television.

This panel discussion was held on August 26, 2021, at the 2nd edition of Languages Week, an afaqs! conference. This edition was sponsored by ABP News (presenting partner) and Colors Bangla (powered by partner).

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