Global revenue head, Guneet Anand, discusses 'Jawan' collab, the company's film & TV integration strategies, expansion into OTT, and more.
After a spectacular theatrical release, Shah Rukh Khan's Jawan is all set for its OTT release. It will coincide with the actor's birthday on November 2.
While enjoying Khan's screen presence, viewers should also keep an eye out for the array of brand integrations featured in the film, particularly the pervasive presence of Asian Paints Royale Glitz.
After Shah Rukh Khan, if the viewers saw anything else in Jawan, it was these ubiquitous ads. While brand integrations are commonplace in cinema, the placement of Asian Paints ads has raised eyebrows for its seemingly omnipresent nature within the film, ranging from the roof of the metro station, to a hoarding on the Bandra Worli Sea Link to even a panel ad on a television news channel.
It's worth noting that there was no pre-existing deal between the film's production and Asian Paints during the shoot. These ads, which were absent during the filming, were inserted into the film in the post-production phase. Whisper Media, the tech-driven media company responsible for this integration in association with Madison World, claims that this marked the first time when a brand was integrated into a film post its production.
Guneet Anand, global revenue head, Whisper Media, highlights a key advantage of the post-production offering, stating that it allows them to approach clients a mere two to four weeks before the theatrical release.
"Generally films are in the making for over a year. If it has to be integrated in the shooting process, that's a very long waiting period for brands. With our offering, brands can come in closer to the theatrical release," he explains.
It was just before the post-production phase of the film that Asian Paints finalised its integration into Jawan. "In order to capitalise on this mega festive launch, we planned a few brand placements across the movie in order to positively influence the brand saliency. Whisper Media ensured that we were able to do this efficiently and effectively,” states Mr Amit Syngle, MD & CEO, Asian Paints Ltd in a press release.
For movies, the integrations are typically decided after the initial editing phase, requiring active collaboration with the film's editing team.
However, Whisper Media adopts a hands-off approach during the production process and intervenes only during the post-production stage. At this point, it analyses the locked edit and estimates the duration of exposures available. It then utilises software to assess the available inventory and recommend the best possible placements.
For TV, it relies on metadata to determine the appropriate inventory allocation for a given brand. Additionally, there are plans to develop metrics for its offerings on other platforms as well.
"When we have inventory to introduce to the market, we make a decision whether to offer it to a single client exclusively or to divide it. The choice depends on the specific product and how it fits within our strategy. In the case of Asian Paints, they chose to acquire all the available inventory. Sometimes, clients may have budget constraints and don't purchase the entire inventory. It varies based on the project and client requirements," he says.
Once all the creative stakeholders are aligned on the nature of the branding, the media company seeks out the right brand to fit the scenario. It then integrates the creative seamlessly into the movie.
"Our technology and expertise allow us to execute all our campaigns incredibly fast. This really helps our case with production houses because depending on how many seconds of footage we are dealing with, we can deliver the final shots in a matter of a few hours," Anand adds.
Whisper Media has executed many such campaigns for television shows, but this marks its inaugural implementation of post-production integration in a film..
"We have been in the Indian entertainment business for over three years, collaborating with major TV broadcasters like Zee Network, Disney Star and Viacom 18. When Red Chillies Entertainment had a major film in the pipeline, we presented our broadcasting expertise to them and expressed our eagerness to work on it," he says.
Upon securing the opportunity to collaborate on Jawan, the company assessed the movie's ad inventory and proactively reached out to its clients. Madison Media expressed interest on behalf of Asian Paints.
"This was a highly anticipated SRK movie. Also, the brand exposure longevity was an added plus for an iconic brand such as Asian Paints. In today's crowded media landscape, clients are eager to explore innovative approaches that help them stand out and connect with their audience," he says.
Whisper's primary focus is connecting brands with audiences through its ad tech solution. "Our roadmap is towards Virtual Studios, Geotargeting, and OTT platforms. Currently, we are in discussions with OTT platforms and studios," he shares.
In television, it has collaborated with clients across various industries, including automobiles, consumer goods, finance, and banking, covering not only HSM (Hindi-speaking markets) but also all four South Indian markets.
"Our primary focus is on fiction shows, which are the cornerstone of our work. For nonfiction shows, given their once-a-week shooting schedule, the sales team handles most aspects. We come into play during post-production, which is particularly crucial for shows that run seven days a week. We've already made brand deals and can seamlessly integrate brands within a two to three-hour window," Anand says.
Whisper Media also offers its clients detailed analytics and measurements, including brand lift studies and eye monitoring, to demonstrate the effectiveness of the integrations. For television broadcasts, the company collaborates with Kantar Media and BARC. Additionally, it closely works with them to assess the effectiveness of ICA (in-content advertising) for films.
"While the film industry is quite different, with content having a perpetual presence on both OTT platforms and TV, we are adapting our measurement models to suit their specific needs," he says.
With regard to cost, Anand says in-content ads are a premium inventory due to their limited supply.
"Brands have been seeking content integrations for some time, but the opportunities have been limited. This is because content creators often aim to maintain the purity of their content," he explains.