The second session of Pitch Brainstorm in Mumbai began with a keynote speech from Subhash Chandra, Zee Telefilms CMD. He said, "In the future, you would have to see some things changing within the communication landscape. The mindset, which persists is that marketing and advertising activity is depletion of time and resources, as opposed to an investment of sorts. This attitude needs a rapid reversal in the future. Another point is that when we speak of digitalisation, we are taking the media bid to a new level. What is digitalisation? It is converting all possible content into 0's and 1s and pushing it across different platforms and it benefits marketers and media owners alike. But no amount of digitalisation or technological progress is going to bear fruit, if we don't include the masses in the gambit. Without the masses in the rural areas, there can be no future."
When asked whether the I&B industry in India is clued in to the needs of the new era of communication, Chandra said, "Honestly, I don't think that they are thinking much about the present day, forget about the future. Except for the cable bill, which monitors the cable industry, there is no other comprehensive law for the electronic media till date. We need an industry regulator specific to this field."
The second session on 'Branded Entertainment- Innovation or Cacophony' saw the panelists Amit Khanna (Chairman, reliance entertainment), Andrew Wagner (Director of business Development & New Media, Fact based Communications), Kacon Sethi (CEO, K Sera Sera), Ravi Gupta (CEO, Mukta Arts), Sanjay Bhutiani (CEO, P9 Integrated) and Saugata Gupta (Head, Marketing, Marico). Sethi was the Moderator.
Ravi Gupta, Mukta Arts said, "Branded entertainment is certainly an innovation, as it explores a new way of reaching out to the target audience. While some have termed it as an intrusion or cacophony, I completely disagree as there is no such thing as a captive audience anymore. As it becomes more and more difficult to reach end consumers, branded entertainment should see sizable growth. There is also a great deal of flexibility within this medium, such as side slugs slap on's, pop ons etc."
Andrew Wagner (Director of business Development & New Media, Fact based Communications) said, "Branded content should be a repertoire of products and services offered by leading agencies. Consider branded content as a 'flanker' for any ad campaign. If you think it's an intrusive mode of reaching to consumers, think again. The fact is that when it comes to obtaining the viewer's attention, attraction beats intrusion."
Meanwhile, Gupta (Head, Marketing, Marico) said, "In my days at Cadbury, I was approached by a producer who wanted to incorporate us as a brand, within a Madhuri Dixit starrer. We had our own reservations at the time, but the film went on to become a huge hit. The reason FMCG brands have failed to make inroads into branded entertainment, is because of the number of MBA's on this side of the fence who are still stuck on excel sheets. FMCG's are unable to take gut calls. They still regard it as a cacophony, rather than an innovation."
Sanjay Bhutiani (CEO, P9) said, "Branded entertainment has not seen much support from the media planning fraternity. Most brand managers and media planners are still in the traditional media domain, a fact which needs to be changed. Another aspect is that there are unresolved issues within branded entertainment which make it a cacophony…for instance on television, is it the production house which is the major stake holder or is it the channel? To put the debate in place, branded entertainment is an innovation because it engulfs a whole new world of opportunities for the marketer, but it's also a cacophony because specialists, who are unequipped to do the job, have made it so."
Meanwhile, moderator Sethi stated, "For me, its entertainment branding. Rather than branded entertainment. And as it becomes more difficult to reach the consumer, opportunities would sky rise within this arena."