e-Content Jam: ‘Ethical marketing to be key in post-COVID times’

At the e4m e-Content Jam, a panel of industry experts discussed strategies to stay relevant, sensitive and true while creating content in these Covid times

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: May 30, 2020 9:22 AM
e-Content Jam

COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown has put content marketing at the forefront of conversations between brands and consumers. It has become the easiest and most efficient way of putting the message across but at the time of this pandemic it is important to stay relevant and sensitive while doing so, say experts.

To understand how brands can create content without overdoing COVID-19 and staying relevant in these times of crisis, exchange4media’s Content Jam brought together industry experts to deliberate on the topic - ‘Content Marketing 2020- Building Brand Salience through Content Marketing’ on Friday, May 29.

As part of Content Jam we had a panel discussion, moderated by Shantanu Bhanja, CEO, Consumer Products, Pidilite Industries Ltd. On the panel were Sharad Somani, Head Marketing, South Asia & IndoChina, Western Union; Ajay Mehta, Vice-President, Content+, Mindshare; Aditi Shrivastava, Co-founder, Pocket Aces; B Krishna Rao, Category Head, Parle Products; Neliswa Nkani, Hub Head- Middle East, India & SE Asia, South African Tourism; and Sudhanshu Nagpal, Category Lead (Biscuits), Mondelez India.

Bhanja started the discussion with a question about how content could be used to put the messaging across without overplaying it, at the time of a crisis.

Shrivastava opened the discussion with how Pocket Aces changed its content plan when the lockdown was announced while staying relevant in these tough times. "We ran campaigns on YouTube and Facebook to show people how to protect themselves during the current situation. The story was told as it is. The lockdown was more of a reality in the backdrop with everyday lives," she said.

Mehta joined in and said that the lockdown has opened a whole new set of opportunities for content creators. "The lockdown has opened a new opportunity to work with influencers. The work is home-produced, self-shot. The quality may not be top notch but lots of real life stories are floating around on social media, and brands can use it to build engagement with consumers."
Taking the discussion forward, Rao talked about Parle's mash-up of old ads that the company created during the lockdown. He recalled, "We wanted to create a mash up of all past ads and talked about the current situation and how to catch up on life. We put it on TV as well. Wasn't overt but yet to the point."

Nkani added that at the time of crisis brands need to stop selling and be more diligent and responsible. “We need to stop saying 'we are the…', and say 'who are we, what we can do for you, and how we can address your fear and agitation'. We decided that digital is the best medium to reach our consumers.”

Somani, too, agreed that building a connection with consumers and staying relevant is most important at the time of a crisis. According to him, "Being relevant to consumers in these difficult times is more important. We stayed away from any direct COVID-19 messages and tweak our messaging communication to suit the time.” He added that Western Union used animated visuals to send the messaging across, that is relevant to global consumers.

Talking about Mondelez's 'At-home with Oreo' campaign, Nagpal highlighted the importance of user-generated content with organic reach. He said, “We learned from the crisis that user-generated content is powerful, and we can’t buy the kind of organic traction it can create on its own. It could be a new trend going forward.”

He added that, "As brands, what we offer or what we see is in the surmises of meeting consumer needs. And, if our messaging is not in sync with reality, I think we will not succeed."

Mehta joined Nagpal and agreed that user generated content could be an important part of content marketing in the future. He recalled Karan Johar's latest collaboration with a hair colour brand and said, "New conversations about next style of production have been coming up. Take Karan Johar's example with Godrej's hair dye. He has shot it at home probably on his own and it was as good as an agency would have done the same at a high production cost.”

Shrivastava notes that the efficiency of the scale of production, importance of organic performance and opening of different of production of content are some of the positive changes that Covid-19 has brought in the industry.

Nkani concluded the session on a positive note by saying that ethical marketing will become the center of marketing in post COVID-19 times. “We need to find the balance between technology and the human touch," she added.

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