"Ascend the ent ladder to find new ways of engagement"

Persuasion through entertainment has great potential & brands are continuously trying to bridge the gap between the two, says Hero Motocorp’s Anil Dua

by Twishy
Published - Mar 2, 2013 1:06 AM Updated: Mar 2, 2013 1:06 AM
"Ascend the ent ladder to find new ways of engagement"

The new Indian wakes up to a Google doodle every morning, tunes in to the favourite FM station to hear a Fevicol or a Zandu Balm song, enjoys the carni-val of IPL, sleeps to the melodramatic ‘Bigg Boss’ and often ponders over ques-tions like what is the link between entertainment and persuasion? Can enter-tainment lead to persuasive outcomes? Are the lines between entertainment and persuasion blurring?

It is widely believed by experts that one cannot be persuasive without enter-taining. Persuasion through entertainment has a great potential, and brands are continuously making strong efforts to bridge the gap between the two. The communication campaign has to be entertaining and compelling to persuade customers to change their current behavioural choice. A campaign becomes entertaining and persuasive if it builds empathy and the consumers can visual-ise themselves as being part of the brand.

In this changing scenario, brands have started relooking their fundamental principles. According to Anil Dua, Senior VP, Marketing and Sales, Hero Moto-corp, brands are becoming more ‘experimentative’. Shifting from being pro-gressive, brands have also started becoming entrepreneurial. Just a few years back brands were happy using a placid way, but they are increasingly becoming invasive. They have transformed themselves from being passive to extremely interactive, thereby becoming huge. However, Dua feels that brands are still far behind when it comes to chasing the youth, who are the new age consumers because of the dynamic behaviour of the category comprising uncertainty and randomness. Hence, brands are doing the catch-up game and the brand that stays ahead and close to the customers emerges the winner.

Engaging the youth
Dua feels that the youth are engaged into shopping and travel, sports, events, socialising and gaming, movies and music. Brands need to understand these activities and formulate plans to get into these areas to engage the youth. Hero Motocorp launched an auto dealership known as ‘Just 4 her’ that was ex-clusively managed by women and was dedicated towards selling only scooters. In travel, the auto brand holds bike rallies to engage the community.

“Don’t wait for a property to emerge. Think of the pursuits that the customers are engaged in, tie up with a media channel, create a property and that could become the most engaging ways to build a loyal fan base,” advised Dua.

Traditionally events such as college fests and music concerts have been used by brands to create engagement. Events and activations like fairs and exhibitions are the most important forms of entertainment for rural customers. “Hero Motocorp has been trying to do this through the rural vertical with the vision of ‘Har Gaon, Har Aangan’ understanding the rural customers in every season. They are far more engaging and love to understand more. It provides an uncluttered medium to the brand to be persuasive while the rural customer is entertaining himself or herself,” Dua said.

Effectively using socialising & gaming
Socialising plays a crucial rule in the success of a brand. It provides an opportu-nity to get the customers together talking about the brand. One of the best ways is to socialise through cafes, believes Dua. Hero’s Hunk tied up with Café Coffee Day (CCD), wherein the coffee froth had a Hunk Logo with Hunk visuals all around to subtly get the attention of the people. Dua thinks that in this up-coming era of virtual hangouts, a brand should not forget the physical hang-outs.

Gaming also becomes an important engagement route and brands should put themselves within the game to enjoy greater participation. He believes that social media should be leveraged properly and highlighted the ‘Billion voices’ campaign that invited people to sing the Hero song, shoot their video and up-load it on heromotocorp.com and their video became a part of the film. This was an attempt to make the consumer the centre of the entire communication process.

Association with music, movies and stars has been done by almost every brand. Going beyond the traditional ways, it becomes noteworthy when the brand ambassadors engage with fans on digital. Hero Motocorp has had a long association with the TV programme ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa’ and they have also tied up with PVR to showcase the bikes.

Integrating the brands into the various sporting activities like cricket, hockey, football, golf and tennis can help in connecting with the youth. The brand has tied up with ‘MTV Roadies’ and various sports like cricket, hockey, golf, etc. “We have started sponsoring some teams in the US and we plan to bring some learnings from the western markets to India when we launch the large bikes,” said Dua.

According to him, it is essential to find out where the customers are and be present over there. He feels that ascending the entertainment ladder and climbing higher to find new ways of engagement with the brand becoming the medium and not the back drop along with connecting and capturing the spirit of customers and doing things differently in an innovative and creative manner can be a game-changer for brands.

In conversation with Satyajit Sen, CEO, ZenithOptimedia, on the issue of budg-ets, Dua said that the budgets will always be under pressure, but it becomes important to plan in advance. The brand’s marketing budget is typically 2 per cent of sales. Even during slowdown, when many people cut back on ad spends, the brand negotiated for a healthy deal because of planning in ad-vance.

Anil Dua was expressing his views during his keynote address on ‘Blurring the lines between entertainment and persuation’ at the Delhi leg of the Pitch CMO Summit, held in Gurgaon on March 1, 2013.

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