MTV India launches innovative branded content with HUL

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing
Published : March 10, 2014
Six Bollywood directors will make short films to reiterate the brand philosophies of five HUL brands.

After a successful string of branded content and AFPs, MTV is now ready to bring out its latest innovative branded content on television, tele-films 'inspired by' select HUL products. The series is a collection of six short films (45-60 minutes), each of which will have a story that will reiterate a brand's philosophy.

MTV Films

To start with, director Anurag Basu, of Barfi fame, has directed a movie called Real FM which is the first of the series and will be telecast on March, 23 at 7 pm. This movie is inspired by Sunsilk, the shampoo brand that sports the tagline 'Scripting my own story'. It will be followed by films from other ace directors of the Hindi film industry, including Abhinay Deo, Shoojit Sircar, Rohan Sippy, Nikhil Advani and Anurag Kashyap.

The directors will produce work on the brand philosophies of other Hindustan Unilever brands including Tresemme, Ponds, Lakme and Close Up. One movie will be telecast in a month.

Hindustan Unilever is co-producing the films with MTV India with a view to take the 30 second television commercial to a new level and to talk about brand connect, moving beyond direct sales.

Hemant Bakshi, executive director, home and personal care, HUL, says, "With the launch of MTV Films, we will re-define the way in which brands tell their stories to consumers. This initiative will focus on communicating brand purpose and we are confident that it will resonate with our audience and build brand love."

Bakshi adds that it was important to see that the directors told HUL brand stories in their own way and perception.

The directors are quite happy to create a new kind of content for television and since this is just the start of it, Sippy mentions there is enough freedom to create this genre of content.

Deo adds that since the time restrictions are not that rigid, there is scope to tell brand stories in a much better way. He has been making both ad films and feature films for a long time now.

Sippy is working on the hair care brand, Tresemme. He explains that there is a fantastic balance where a lot of stuff about the brand is defined while the real connect is still to be placed and that, he says, is an exciting balance to work on.

He adds that TV is a powerful medium and it's an evolution coming of age in terms of the extension of the 30-second format. Basu says, "I have been making TVCs for last few years. It was bad to see how my family skipped those 30-seconders. With DVRs and other such devices, it's all the more easy to ignore the brand. It's good to be a part of this new community and I hope it increases. Plus, it's really important to have a good content marketing team, because a single thing going wrong might hurt."

MTV recently launched a sister channel, Pepsi MTV Indie, in association with PepsiCo. That too is the first co-branded channel in the country. MTV started its journey with brands way back in 2003, when it launched MTV Hero Roadies in association with Hero Honda.

Aditya Swamy, EVP and business head, MTV, adds, "This is a risk that we have all taken. Hemant could have made certain commercials. Directors making feature films are experimenting newer formats. Ravi is always looking at a mid way between commercial and content part. It's innovation and we have to wait and watch."

Ravi Rao, leader, South Asia, Mindshare adds that movies are a popular culture in India and hence, they looked at it. It was really brave for HUL to take the step and move beyond the traditional TVC angle.

He further says, "Mindshare has been instrumental in raising the bar and pioneering innovations for Unilever through its strategic partnerships and alliances. This is yet another initiative for Unilever that will usher in a new era in innovation which will set the template for 'best practices' in the region."

HUL has earlier done innovations like launching its sub-brand Lakme Absolute with the film, Heroine and the associations with Fashion, the 2008 movie.

Amin Lakhani, leader, South Asia, Team Unilever, says, "Story telling is the new mantra to connect with our consumers, something that we have done over the years with much success. This initiative is the new benchmark not just from the uniqueness of the concept, but ably complimented with scale and execution. Moving away from branded placement into branded content in its most pristine form with this initiative is something we are very proud of."

This distinctive collaboration goes 'beyond television' platform with multiple touch-points like mobile, online and radio to engage the consumers.

The initiative will see Bollywood, television and the corporate world collaborate to produce a new kind of content. While MTV India is seen as the channel that resonated well with the youth, the film makers roped in for this initiative have an increasingly large fan base in the younger generation.

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