"People are not interested in messages, they are interested in stories"

KV Sridhar, Leo Burnett's Chief Creative Officer India Subcontinent talks about the importance of story-telling, shift towards the new 4Ps of marketing and more...

e4m by Twishy
Updated: Mar 12, 2013 7:53 PM
"People are not interested in messages, they are interested in stories"

What comes to one’s mind when thinking about Nike? ‘Just do it’. What does McDonald’s stand for? ‘I’m loving it’. What happens after a sip of Coca-Cola?  You ‘Open happiness’. The essence of a brand lies within the core message used to describe the brand.  It is important for the brand to tell a story because it has immense untapped power that needs to be properly channelised. Poorly written messages used in advertisements can be harmful for the reputation of a brand. Brands build reputation only when consumers start conversations around the brand.

It is widely believed that content is the king but only if it is relevant, interesting and engaging. Content can attract customers only when it can evoke an emotion.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Twishy, KV Sridhar (aka Pops), Chief Creative Officer India Subcontinent at Leo Burnett talks about the importance of story-telling, brands becoming content, shift towards the new 4Ps of marketing and more…

Brands have themselves become content. Do you agree with the statement?
I totally agree. If you look at Nike, the brand is itself becoming content. People consume what Nike puts out in every sphere. Spreading optimism around the world through ‘Open Happiness’, Coke isn’t advertising about colas but it is a series of optimistic episodes being brought to people. This is the content put out by brands that people consume.

The moment the entertainment quotient is brought down and brands opt for a hard sell, people reject it. We have seen many examples such as Idea, Cadbury, etc. that have become episodes of entertainment and content. There is no branded content around and people consume the things they like.

Population First and Leo Burnette did the ‘I am Laadli’ campaign that aims at empowering women on Women’s day. Can you explain the reason behind this activity?
There are so many negative things going around women in the country so we thought of celebrating the power and love of women. Instead of men trying to celebrate Women’s day, we gave a platform to women to cheer and express themselves. We wanted the country to believe that the more regressive portrayal of women, the more people will be hesitant to let a little girl live.

Infusing positivity and encouraging women to add the word ‘Laadli’ to their names on social networking sites such as Facebook or using the #iamlaadli hashtag on Twitter, the campaign celebrates the spirit of women. We decided to have a planned attack on Twitter through our ambassadors and urged friends to come and join the flash mob. We gave a time of 8PM and by 8:15PM on March 8, we were jamming the timelines.

Is story-telling becoming crucial for brands?
People are not interested in messages, they are interested in stories. Brands have realised that there must be a story to communicate better. An idea should have some purpose and a point of view irrespective of being good, bad or ugly, for people to invest.

Through the ‘Laadli’ campaign, we decided to tell the story through influences of 2,000 ambassadors sharing the story of being a ‘laadli’. We wanted to show that the more girls being celebrated in the country, the more desire to have a girl child.

Are the 4Ps of marketing changing in this dynamic scenario?
I believe that brands need to understand the new rules of the game and adapt to it for staying ahead of competition. The first P of marketing has become people and not customers. Brands should understand and talk to people to establish a stronger foothold in the market.

The second P is purpose. Brands need to find out a purpose in the consumer’s life. If a brand doesn’t have a purpose, it doesn’t have a place in the consumer’s mind.

Participation is the third P of marketing. Brands should have a story to tell and get people actively involved in it. Their participation allows them to emotionally bond to a brand or an issue. People engaged with the brand must own the value.

Populism is the fourth P of marketing which means entering into the pop culture of people through engaging campaigns like those of Nike’s ‘Just do it’, which is a philosophy that has transformed into populism.

How relevant is placing creativity in the hands of a consumer?
Probably, we are the only people in the advertising world who call ourselves creative. Who is not creative? Every content creator is creative. Every person who puts up a Facebook status is creative. They are creating content which will be talked about, shared and liked by people. Hence, it becomes extremely important to have greater participation from people involved with the brand.

Content creators have started becoming content moderators also. Brands need to fire the imagination of people and allow them to put their voices.

Can you throw light on the statement, ‘Ideas are becoming social’?
It’s not the media that is social but it is ideas that are social. Ideas are social because they get into society, civilization and community. If you like an idea, it gets spread everywhere. Every good idea right from the beginning of the religion has become social. People adopt the ideas, propagate it and live with them. Great ideas are shared across irrespective of the platform.

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