The stand-up comic is today's youth celebrity and can quite easily occupy the same space as a Bollywood starlet, in the digital arena. Thus, with a clear aim to recreate the brand connect, Bourbon Friendly Matches brings two YouTube heavyweights - comedians Abish Mathew and Mallika Dua - to the proverbial stage where the duo have to prove their friendship through a series of 7 whacky challenges. Each challenge tests an attribute of their friendship which the brand claims to have arrived at after intense consumer research.
So, we asked Ali Harris Shere, VP marketing, Britannia, the inevitable question - What kind of strategy was employed by the brand to pull off the whole concept of comedy content with blatant product placement?
"The consumer insight that we picked up on was that expressing and sharing real friendship on social media was a big thing. Also, stand-up comedy is the new emerging trend for its hilarious and brutal honesty. The concept of 'Friendly Matches', with two popular stand-up comics, could address our insights and it is also central to the brand's idea of fulfilling real friendships," he explains.
"We were conscious of avoiding overt product plugins and sought ways to integrate the product seamlessly, without it looking like a force fit," he reveals further.
"Comedy is no doubt the largest consumed genre of content amongst millennials and Gen Z," Shere states, adding that this target demographic seeks humour and light-hearted content from social media.
With the recent case study - MTV Many Me - research just reaffirms that by stating humour is the biggest weapon for today's youth. (MTV recently launched its youth study titled 'MTV Many Me Project' covering 11,000 youngsters from more than 50 cities across India).
Among millennials, humour drives a 50 per cent lift in brand familiarity.
Shere continues, "The brand wants to create a world of friendship that is real and unpretentious. We want to find a place in each friends' group and this campaign is our first salvo in that direction."
The rules of engagement, when it comes to brands and their obsession with celebrity partners, stands quite in contrast today as opposed to say, a few years ago and that definitely carries a breath of fresh air along with it. In the recent past, several brands have picked stand-up comics over Bollywood biggies to advertise their brands.
It's not just the premium cream biscuit segment, but this trend can easily be spotted in various other segments. For example, Suresh Menon's quirky stand-up comedy video for Godrej's home insecticide brand HIT and Tanmay Bhat's exuberant presentation in the new Taco Bell ad.
Shere further expresses, "The challenge with 'Friendly Matches' was to pick the right stand-up comics and use them in a way they've never been used before for a brand - and hence, the idea of a game show format featuring Mallika Dua and Abhish Mathew, who are good friends in real life as well."
The show features them proving their friendship to each other in fun, whacky ways with their own brand of humour thrown in; the 'Saat phere of Friendship' as they called it.
Interestingly, today's consumers, especially netizens, tend to have increasingly shorter attention spans and they prefer not to sit and watch long-format creatives/ ad films unless there's a very definitive and interesting hook to the ad. In such a scenario, we were curious to find out just what gave the brand the confidence to go ahead with such product-led content over long episodes.
That brand claims that the digital campaign achieved the highest ever view-through rate of 45 per cent, which is 10 per cent more than the industry average and it performed significantly higher than benchmarks across all media metrics.
The length was, therefore, not a deterrent in this case and Shere adds, "In fact, the longer edits performed even better than the shorter ones, proving that good content finds its audiences."
The campaign, therefore, rendered the brand a powerful (much needed) digital activation platform around real friendship.
"The genre of comedy hit a big sweet spot with the Digital Native TG. The campaign brought together Abish Mathew and Mallika Dua, who helped drive sustained interest and conversations around it. The campaign has also helped position Britannia as a young and fun brand to a core consumption TG i.e. the youth," Shere informs.
The brand, this time around, recognised the need for a revamp and felt the requirement to unlock the new proposition and the necessary amount of communication for the same.
So, we asked Priya Shivakumar, executive creative director, JWT about her role as the creative agency in this campaign as apparently, there is no advertising involved as such. In such 'content marketing' type of videos, what purpose does the ad agency serve exactly?
"As the creative agency, we devised the concept of friendly matches. The whole idea to create a series of seven episodes was a thing we thought would really resonate with our target consumers. That and having two stand-up comics," she opines.
"The themes and interactions were crafted by our team and was later written by Abish Mathew," Shivakumar informs further.
Striking a chord?
We were curious to know if the whole concept of comedy content, with blatant product placement in a brand film like this, is a smart move or if communication strategy is in-line with what current-age consumers are looking up to. Here's what the experts had to say in that regard:-
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For Chandrashekhar Mhaskar, EVP, Isobar, the BFF moments were more of a nostalgic ride all the way. "They were throwback moments for me, personally," he says candidly.
With regard to the longish-short format type, he says, "This might catch on and prevail for some time, provided the content is really fascinating and glues the attention of the viewers."
Mhaskar, however, maintains, "Even the BFF content, after 3-4 films that I watched, started losing its sheen and my interest. I am sure that the creative heads in the industry will find ways to increase the longevity of this style."
Cashing in on the popularity of Abhish and Mallika, given the fact that they are also hosting a Prime Show right now, is icing on the cake.
Shrenik Gandhi, chief executive officer and co-founder, White Rivers Media, praises the fun route taken up by the brand. "I liked the way the film series has been shot; it is tight, crisp and funny," he says.
However, there is always room for improvement, Gandhi points out. He believes that User-Generated Content (UGC) i.e. if the brand had called in fans to share their videos with their BFFs, could have had a better impact. "But, getting fans to shoot something as long as this was a big ask", he shares in the same breath.
"Ideally, they could have used Instagram's multi-person video feature for the same or asked for a smaller task. Secondly, I believe, they should have had multiple genres of popular influencers for videos instead of having Abhish and Mallika for all the videos." Gandhi concludes.
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