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Digital companies have no baggage like traditional players: Ashish Virmani

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Digital companies have no baggage like traditional players: Ashish Virmani

Online recharge player Freecharge wants to transition from a youth company to a “youthful” company. And one part of its strategy to do this is to increase digital video content to reach the youth.

Speaking to exchange4media, Ashish Virmani, AVP (Marketing) of Freecharge said, “The two biggest advantages we see with digital content is they (digital content creators) are greatly appreciative of brand positioning so brand integrations are seamless and look natural. The second thing is that most of the digital companies have no baggage that you see with some of the traditional players. They have an unbiased perspective towards brands.”

Freecharge has earlier worked with the likes of The Viral Fever (TVF) and Virmani said that such partnerships will increase in the future. “What we are seeing is that more ideas take off in digital and then percolate to offline media and we might see this happening more and more in the future,” he added.

Expanding further on Freecharge’s youth-focused strategy, he said that the company will continue to build on the expertise and brand image they have built. “There are very few brands that have been able to get into the minds of the youth like we have. The idea is to not be overly preachy and be dynamic,” he said.

Digital video content is a popular tool these days, especially for companies that want to target the youth audience. In 2014 over 23 billion minutes of videos online were watched each month by Indians and an average user watched 432 minutes of video in a month. According to report recently released by Ideate Labs an average internet user in India spends 88% more time on sites with videos and 70% of marketing professionals report that video converts better than any other mediums online.

The rising trend of brands flocking to online TV shows

Another important pillar of Freecharge’s strategy is how they leverage sporting events for launching communication campaigns. They have been associated with IPL, ISL, the Cricket World Cup in the past and are also considering new options like the Wimbledon, kabaddi, badminton, etc. Virmani said that mediums like YouTube, Facebook, Hotstar,, etc. were important mediums for the company. When asked whether we would see Freecharge associating with the upcoming Pro Kabaddi League, Virmani said, “The Pro Kabaddi League surprised everyone last year but right there is no concrete plan to associate with it. With the IPL and the World Cup over, everyone is now looking at what can be done next.”

Speaking more about some of the marketing campaigns undertaken by the company, Virmani said that they have consistently found that their digital audience loves predictions; whether it is the final score in a cricket match or the number of boundaries hit; an insight which led to the launch of Recharge 20/20. “We were the first to tie-up with the likes of CCD, Ola Cabs, etc. It is a business model that has been emulated by a lot of other companies, both big and small,” says Virmani.

Freecharge was acquired by Snapdeal earlier this year for a deal said to be around $450 million, making it the biggest M&A in the Indian e-commerce space. However, Virmani would not be drawn into talks of ad spends. “We don’t approach it (advertising) thinking of numbers. We do it from the bottom up after identifying the business need,” he said in response to our query. He did agree that 2015 ad spends would be a “sizeable” number.


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