The last day of the Ficci-Frames 2007 saw a number of interesting discussions and conferences kicking off on cinema, advertising and radio. Noted adman Prahlad Kakkar moderated a discussion on ‘Embedded Advertising and Entertainment,’ as the audience listened to some of those who had researched on what the growth of this nascent industry meant, and where it was heading.
According to Kakkar, there needs to be a system and a manner, an index, and a definite study conducted on this trade.“One needs to understand what kind of a trade this is. In India, embedded advertising is still a very shaky business. We tend to go overboard and the film becomes more of a long advertisement rather than featuring a film. I once marched out of film which is a story about a couple traveling to meet their children, who live away from them. The car they use is Ford, and I found only later that the film had been sponsored by Ford. Ford actually managed to sell a lot in Europe because of this film,” he said.
The panel consisted of Kakkar himself, Sanjay Bhutani - CEO of BR Films, Sukhbinder Barn, Sr Lecturer in Marketing at Middlesex University Business School, UK and Vikram Sakhuja, COO, GroupM, South Asia.
Bhutani expressed the idea that films are one of the most cost-effective and strongest mediums for advertising. “There are many advantages of using advertising in films. For one, it can be very engaging. There is no zapping, and no chance for the consumer to flip the page or stop watching it. If a consumer watches a particular scene and the advertisement is well embedded into that, it will remain,” he said.
Bhutani added, “Also, the costs are lesser in films, as against the recent risk that advertisers found it with cricket. Sports are an area where we have been investing considerably where advertising is concerned. However, I think risks are too high. Films can be far less risky in that sense.”
Bhutani spoke about the growing DVD market which was changing the reach of films and also discussed the new 360 degree experience which is a part of most branding today. “Promotions, interactivity and various brand events have become very popular. A lot of media companies are also choosing to be associated with films because of their low cost,” he said.
Embedded advertising can be done in many ways, he felt further, as he took an example of a film where the jewellery manufacturer Tanishq used this opportunity. “I watched a film recently which was see sometime in the 18th century, and the women in the film wore Tanishq jewellery. I think it was a great way to do this. At the end of the film, there was a note of gratitude to Tanishq, and I found that most women who watched the film looked at the jewellery. It had made an impact,” he said.
Sukhbinder Barn from the Middlesex University said that currently, embedded advertising still needs to grow in India. “It is like a deranged marriage, the brand most often does not fit into the film the way in which it should. The reason is that most filmmakers still do not think of it as a revenue stream,” he said.
This lack of synchronization between the filmmaker and the brand was what all the panelists agreed was missing. Vikram Sakhuja of Group M also spoke about the advantages of embedded advertising. “I think content of any kind can be used to build brands. The last one year has been rather active in terms of in-film placements and branding through films. But not enough people are still talking about this kind of a revenue, and there isn’t enough knowledge about it as yet,” he said.
That the director needs to proactively take interest in the brand, and an interest in this form of advertising was yet to shape, was what the conclusion of this session led to. Embedded advertising, which has to an extent made a silent entry over the last decade or two, needs to still find a success story in India.