Crucial to use the right communication for brands in regional market: Karthik Srinivasan

Brand Communication Strategist Srinivasan, in a session sponsored by Star India Network, delved into the power of mother tongue for regional marketing

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Sep 6, 2021 11:08 AM

The two day exchange4media Upfront comprised a series of highly informative virtual sessions built around the content, schedules and activities aimed at the festival season.

The event showcased new age media and technology companies sharing interesting aspects of consumer spending in India. The objective was to give the attendees an overview of the media and technology companies, and their upcoming offerings to media agencies and the marketing teams of consumer brands ahead of the season that demands maximum spends. Participants were also able to spot innovative content formats, technologies, and measurement strategies for the new normal.

Brand Communication Strategist Karthik Srinivasan, in a session sponsored by Star India Network, pushed the audience into thinking about whether they as marketers are using the right communication and communication channels in the regional market.

This session was filled with messaging strategies and effective ways to connect with the southern consumers across India. He said, “The creative decisions are usually taken from either a Mumbai or a Delhi-based ad agency where, along with the brand managers, they conceive the creative plan to translate it into other languages, for example, Tamil for Tamil Nadu; Malayalam for Kerala; Telugu for Andhra Pradesh and Telangana; Kannada for Karnataka; and then Bengali for Kolkata.

He noted that the original thought is usually in Hindi or English, which may not have exact translations in regional languages.

Srinivasan pointed out that while it's not a wrong practice, it's less purposeful in the overall scheme of things for various reasons. "One, you could always ask ‘don't people understand Hindi in Chennai, Kochi or Hyderabad?’ Of course, they do understand, because various governments have pushed Hindi to make it useful for people to understand so that they can be part of the larger government communication. And it has happened for many years and many decades. But the point is, while people do understand Hindi and what is being communicated in terms of context, the main difference is, you're trying to persuade people, you're not trying to pass functional information to people," he noted.

To illustrate the point, Srinivasan quoted Ogilvy: "If you are trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think."

He noted that advertising is not about comprehension alone. "We're trying to persuade somebody to actually make a decision about parting with their money and buying a product or a service, which is a much bigger deal than just trying to do something very categorical in terms of communication. So that's where the big difference is," he emphasised.

Srinivasan also made a case for the power of marketing in the mother tongue: "If you are travelling outside India, you notice a signboard just above a shop, you actually see something in Tamil and if you're a Tamilian, you would just probably cry and be like ‘Oh God, everybody looks so alien here. And there is a board in Tamil. I just need to say ‘hi’ to the person, whoever it is.’ Similarly, it happens when you're actually watching a channel or just reading a newspaper that is filled with English or some other language. And then suddenly, your whole attention is diverted because you see something in your mother tongue, which makes a very, very big difference."

He noted that context and faces also appeal in a similar way to the mother tongue because the person who happens to be familiar in that ad speaks one's mother tongue day in and day out on a show that you visit every single day. "That's very familiar to you, which eventually catches your attention," he stated.

Applauding regional brands who are doing a "terrific job" with localized communication, Srinivasan concluded by saying there is no reason why national brands cannot do the same. "They simply need to acknowledge the fact that they need to seek local creatives done, with local faces, where possible, and speak like their target audiences do.”

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