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Media agencies still to accept reality of brand placement

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Media agencies still to accept reality of brand placement

In-film and in-programme placement, although at a nascent stage in India, is fast emerging as a win-win situation for broadcasters and corporates. If the brands are integrated well with the script, they become synergistic with the show and enjoy good recall among viewers. However, unlike the West where in-serial and in-film placement runs into crores, there are no benchmarks of fixed charges yet in India. In addition, there is no standardised means of gauging the effectiveness of a particular brand placement within a particular film.

What's the ROI in the entire deal? Though TAM has tried to track product placements on the small screen, yet there is no word on the mileage derived by these placements. Planners remain wary of this new science of brand communication and are not as aware of the logistics involved in the entire process or the returns drawn from it.

The planning fraternity needs to be pro-active on this new dimension of the communication process say experts in the business. Sanjay Bhutiani, CEO, P9 says, "Increasing clutter on TV, declining viewership during ad breaks, and escalating media costs are all reasons as to why media planners need to explore alternate options in order to popularise their brands. But conventional planning still concerns itself with GRP's, reach and quantifiable data. The science of in-film brand placement is fairly new in this country, which is why most media agencies haven't grappled with the various aspects involved. Media planners may or may not suggest in-film branding as a suitable mileage option but brands are fully aware of the prospects involved in an in-film deal and the cost effectiveness of the entire process. Most often, brands themselves seek outfits such as ours and take care of the logistics involved in the entire process."

Meanwhile, Kacon Sethi, CEO, K Sera Sera, says that in-film and serial branding area is the germination stage and there is not enough standardisation in the entire process, which is why media agencies are perhaps not as pro-active in the area. Sethi adds, "This business can only grow and it's a fact that media agencies have to understand and reconcile themselves with. While making a media plan, you ought to look at new and evolving modes of communication, as opposed to purely GRP-led buys. As far as standardisation is concerned, this business has some way to go in terms of what will be charged for a placement seconds, the eyeballs captured and so on. Once the processes and logistics are in place, we would naturally capture a greater degree of interest from the planning and buying community. At present, it's mostly brands that take the onus on to themselves and seek placements in big budget films or high decibel serials."

Madan Mohapatra, a media expert who has just put in his papers as Business Director, Universal McCann, feels that the planning fraternity has come a long way, when it comes to exploring brand placements in cinema and on the telly tube. Mahopatra believes, "There was a certain amount of scepticism in the media camp earlier because most people were unsure about the standardisation of processes within such a venture. But typically, it's the clients that are hesitant about investing in this mode of communication, even when the media agency puts forward a suggestion for them to do so. The onus lies more on the marketers, rather than on the media agencies."

He adds, "I believe that things are changing for the better, at least for the business of brand placement. With fragmentation and clutter seen in most mass media vehicles both planners and marketers have realised that media buying isn't about GRP's, reach and frequency alone. You need to divert your attention to other evolving and more effective modes of communication. Brand placement in serials and cinema is definitely big business and is all set to get bigger in the times to come."

Though there aren't any syndicated figures on in-film promotions, this business is estimated to be around Rs 50-60 crore. It is growing at the rate of 50 per cent annually and is all poised to become Rs 500 crore industry by 2010.


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