India is fast catching up on digital advertising trend: D Shivakumar, Aditya Birla Group

Shivakumar, Group Executive President - Strategy & Business Development, spoke about Brand Trust in a Digital World at the IAA World Congress

e4m by Neeta Nair
Updated: Feb 21, 2019 8:15 AM

“Digital is the mainstream today and not the add on”, said D Shivakumar, Group Executive President - Strategy & Business Development, Aditya Birla Group, during his session on Brand Trust in a Digital World at the IAA World Congress held in Kochi. 

Proving his point he said, “2019 is a special year because 51 per cent of the world is on the internet today and 36 per cent of the world population is on social media. Global advertising amounts to $335 billion and 46 per cent of all advertising comprises Digital and India is fast catching up on this trend.”

He said that in today’s Digital era excess information has led to more cynicism. “In the digital world there is no room for secrets and it goes both ways: Brands know too much about consumers and consumers know too much about brands. As per a survey by Edelman, the media is not trusted in 80 per cent of the countries surveyed. In 1959, when Television came up, it had just one format but today with Digital we have an array of options.”

However, Shivakumar warns about how one of these options, i.e. Social Media can go horribly wrong for brands if not used with care. Citing the examples of brands like Benetton, Dolce and Gabbana, Burger King he says, “Silly work on social media can cost your company in a big way.” Elaborating on what he calls ‘Digitally unacceptable content and attitude’ or DUCA, he says, “A brand like Benetton which was known historically for taking the lead on inclusive and provocative advertising got flak for a ‘sexist’ Instagram post which had a picture of three boys with their arms around each other and a caption that said ‘Sorry ladies, Girls not allowed’.”

“Similarly, the Co-Founder of Dolce and Gabbana uploaded a picture of sneakers on his Instagram page with the following text on it – I am thin and gorgeous. When people trolled him for the body shaming message he went on to describe the detractors as ‘idiots’ who are ‘fat and full of cholesterol’,”  Shivakumar added. 

On influencers, he said, “Influencer marketing is about genuine relationships with the products. They were considered better than celebrities who didn’t always come across as honest consumers of the products they endorse. But nowadays some brands have taken to paying the influencers to promote their products. And sometimes, the marketing becomes a little too obvious. When the consumers find out that the influencers they trust have been paid by the brand nothing can stop them from being livid.” 

Talking about what brands can do to generate trust, Shivakumar said: “Collective experience is the dominant force.  The culture and speed of organisation is very important because the time they get to set a problem right is very little today because news spreads on social media fast. He says a brand needs to focus on being ethical in their actions and heritage continues to be a driver for trust. Also reliability is the foundation of trust, no matter how boring the brand is.” 

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