Long-format story telling will continue to rule in 2016: Experts

2015 witnessed a surge in the number of brands that adopted the long-format narration. From brands across categories, this was one of the most prominent trends which is here to stay

e4m by Sarmistha Neogy
Published: Jan 13, 2016 8:51 AM  | 6 min read
Long-format story telling will continue to rule in 2016:  Experts

The trend of brands taking the long-format route is not new, but 2015 witnessed a surge in the number of brands that adopted the long-format narration. From brands across categories, this was one of the most prominent trends last year. Insurance companies like Birla Sun Life, Tata AIA and HDFC Life highlighted the beauty of relationships and abstained from cliche representation. New age-start-ups and e-commerce brands like Urban Ladder, Oyo Rooms and OLX released emotional long-format films around special days like Independence Day/Diwali. There were also brands like Anouk, Omron, and Ziggy that brought taboo subjects like same-sex relationships, corporate bias towards pregnancy etc., to the fore.

Most of these ad campaigns focussed on demonstrating the purpose of the brand, rather than the product. By choosing topics, with which the youth can relate to and with an attempt to stay connected with them, brands didn’t hesitate to experiment. These films (3-7 min duration) went viral and garnered lot of hits and shares, but the question is- has there been any effective brand building?

We spoke to advertising and digital experts to understand their take on long-format films and the viability of this trend:


Santosh Padhi, Chief Creative Officer & Co-founder, Taproot Dentsu:

If you see, then actually the trend of long-format story telling has been there around the world for more than 3-4 years now. For the last two years, it has only caught up in India.

The reason behind this is at one point of time, brands and consumers were being bombarded with too many ads which generated a level of fatigue. But now, these brands have started realising that they need to be friends with the consumers today. As a result of which, we will always have to find newer ways of story-telling because we can’t continue to talk to the consumers in the typical way.


Bobby Pawar, Managing Director and Chief Creative Officer, Publicis India:

This trend of brands using long story-telling format, will only continue to grow in the coming years. See it is basically a ‘copy-cat industry’, when some brands see success in a particular format, more brands will continue to follow the same.


Ashish Khazanchi, Managing Partner, Enormous:

The long-format trend will be there for some more time, but by the end of the coming year or so, even brands will start questioning the effectiveness of this format. The problem today is, everybody is talking digital; they are only referring to the number of likes and shares, but whether it has brought any discernible buying behaviour changes only time will tell. The initial euphoria and celebration will wane after sometime.


Chaaya Bhardwaj, founder, BC Webwise:

Audiences live and breathe content. They have short attention span because there’s an abundance of compelling and engaging content available. So today audiences are time conscious and that’s why brands are trying to change the way they tell their stories. Long format video content is one of the many ways brands are leveraging to break through the clutter and leverage the huge demand for fresh content. Theformat gives brands the chance to get into story telling mode and deliver truly memorable experiences to audiences, do better product integration, and make audiences part of the brand’s evolution.

The downside is that while it is a great opportunity to spread love for the brand, it also is a major risk - you're almost balancing between commercial and content. Also, product placements often go overboard in most of these stories and the story loses its charm. Risks aside, longformat story telling has proven to be a great way to keep audiences glued and elevate the level of engagement. HUL’s unique content partnership with MTV was a great example, where they got 6 popular Bollywood movie directors like Anurag Kashyap, Shoojit Sircar and made 6 movies for 6 of HUL's beauty and personal care brands. The content worked equally well for HUL on social media. We will see more of this in 2016. Brands will continue to look atlongformat story telling with an integrated approach.


SuveerBajaj, Co-founder & Director, Media Operations, FoxyMoron:

2015 has been an exciting year for digital evolution. While everyone is looking for efficiencies in advertising, their main objective is to find new ways to engage their consumers. And what’s more engaging than a video? The key to successful videos is always content. Telling a compelling, engaging story that too with a business objective in 30-seconds is a tough task. Thus, a new journey has begun in the space of long-format ad films. From insurance companies to FMCGs and e-commerce, many brands are now adapting their campaigns around long-format videos, increasing engagement by sharing stories, instead of the usual advertisements. Long format films have become so popular that people download, share and repeatedly watch them. This is why brands are now taking it to the next level by showcasing a point of relevance in the consumer’s life and using webisodes to convey the message.”

Webisodes can be used in multiple ways, while some are stand- alone pieces ending with the final branding; others have used them to showcase branded snippets continually. Two unique yet contrasting examples are Lakme’s ‘Bang, Baaja, Baaraat’ and Dabur Vatika’s ‘Brave and Beautiful’. Lakme sponsored a five-part web series by Yash Raj films. After each webisode, short videos were made by Lakme, where various looks were decoded. On the other hand, Dabur Vatika took an emotional route by paying a tribute to a woman reclaiming her regular life post cancer.


Ramanujam Sridhar, Founder and CEO, Brand-comm:

This is one of the big trends of 2015 and it is likely to continue this year as well. The reason why more number of brands are resorting to long-format films is because today the audience is online and therefore, the chance of sharing the video and making it viral becomes higher. Brands today have realised the potential of the digital forum, and that is the reason look at the quality of any videos which gets released. They have nice music,good story line and are not shoddy.

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