e-Content Jam: Marketing in times of COVID-19 with an eye on positivity & empathy

On the panel were Arvind RP, McDonald's; Atit Mehta, BYJU’S; Avi Kumar, ZEE5; Gaurav Jeet Singh, HUL; Nipun Marya, Vivo India; Jayam Vora, Fitternity; and Sandeep Juneja, DHL Express

e4m by e4m Desk
Published: Jun 1, 2020 8:00 AM  | 11 min read
e-Content Jam

Content Marketing has become an integral part of a brand’s marketing plan but with COVID-19 it has become bigger than ever before. With mainstream marketing coming to a grinding halt, content continues to play a pivotal role in ensuring brand salience, say experts.

A panel with a diverse speaker roll including Arvind RP - Director Marketing and Communications - McDonald's; Atit Mehta- Marketing Head, Think & Learn Pvt. Ltd. (BYJU’S); Avi Kumar- Head Marketing, ZEE5; Gaurav Jeet Singh- General Manager Media, South Asia- HUL; Nipun Marya- Director Brand Strategy, Vivo India; Jayam Vora- Co-Founder and COO- Fitternity; and Sandeep Juneja- VP Sales & Marketing, DHL Express, spoke about how marketing content has been changing during the times of the pandemic. The session was chaired by Nawal Ahuja, Co-founder and Director, exchange4media.

The industry leaders on the panel spoke about the changing dynamics of content marketing in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Ramayan and Mahabharat has taken TRPs through the roof and proved that a huge part of the population has their faith in God and in the fact that they are taken care of by Him. However, there is another side to it. Series like ‘Money Heist’ have been popular with the Indian audience and that goes to prove that good content has nothing to do with language. Good content cuts through barriers and makes its way to the audience. This is a big learning from the past two months," said Singh.

OTT has seen a phenomenal growth rate, said Kumar, and ZEE5’s focus has been on becoming a super app built to provide for each of the customer they have.

Elaborating on Zee5’s strategy, Kumar said: “If you see in the last two years, we've pursued a vision to become one of the nation's destination as a super app for entertainment. And one of the most profound changes over this time has been that we've got a very rich understanding and deeper commitment towards delighting the customer. Our only focus is the consumer. We are now focusing on hyper personalization. We use technology to understand the consumer so that we can connect better with them and in these unprecedented times it becomes even more important for us to understand what the consumer needs. We have introduced kids’ content in the last one month along with hyper shorts, gaming and news. We've come up with a lot of content innovation, both live or shot in-house. But the key is the consumer and hyper personalization of the consumer. So while there is 1,25,000 hours of content it is important to provide the consumer what he's looking for without him going through the hassle of searching it," said Kumar.

But in instances when not many are looking at buying products like phones how does a brand like Vivo keep the consumer engaged.

Elaborating on the same was Marya, "In the last month and a half we clearly saw that consumers were not really looking at a product or product advertising in general, in our category especially. There was much less interest in the product because nobody was really looking at buying a phone. There weren't any options available to buy as well. Even e-commerce companies were not delivering for a large part of the lockdown. So people were genuinely not interested in going out there and checking out product features and therefore from the brand side they weren't really interested in us communicating much about the product features."

“However, what the consumers were really interested in was what we were doing with respect to Coronavirus? We put out a lot of videos, for instance a video which we made on heroes who care, saluting all our policemen and healthcare workers. Those kinds of videos and content really got a lot of engagement," he added.

"We have entered lockdown 4.0 and since the market has started opening up and people have again gone back to buying phones. Therefore, we have seen sort of a restart in smart phone sales. Since the sales are starting to revive what we've also seen is people are now more interested in about features which they weren't interested in a couple of weeks back. Accordingly, we are also shifting the focus of our communication slowly," Marya said.

While some brands struggled to keep the consumer engaged, some from the beginning of the lockdown were overloaded with demand. What did a brand like BYJU'S, which is inundated with demand do in such times? Did they still need to engage with customers?

To talk about it was Mehta: “When the lockdown started the first thing that was closed was schools and the last thing to open up as the economy and the market open up will also be schools. This is also the start of the academic season. So most schools and especially the A-plus ones where we send our kids started doing online classes using multiple platforms and Google Classroom became a go-to market product. But that's not even 0.1% of the total population. That is where we took the big content initiative which created business for us. We started live classes. At the end of the day, everything has gone on, OTT consumption has gone up. TV viewership has gone on 24X7 it was becoming difficult for them to manage the students. That’s where we came and provided educational content in a live format and had the best teachers on board. That is where we saw the surge both in terms of engagement, and subscription as more and more students at a pan-India level came on board."

However, for sensitive product categories like food - the messaging had to be done with care. McDonald’s Arvind RP spoke about treating customers as people first and consumer second.

“There are certain a thing that we realized very early on in this lockdown that it is very easy for brands to become tone deaf in this entire scenario. The sales are down and you have to push and generate demand. So we took it to a place where we treat customers as people first and consumer second. What that meant was reassuring customers of our safety and hygiene. McDonald's is known for its high standards of safety and it was time to narrate the story all over again. We told customers how we followed contactless norms and social distancing in our supply chain in our stores. So we needed to do the storytelling all over again and prove to customers that it's only safe and hygienic food that we are serving. We were one of the first brands to launch contactless delivery and it was very much appreciated by customers. This gave a positive impact to our delivery business, which picked up slowly based on this assurance messaging that we were giving.”

He further said, “The other thing we picked was that consumers were asking brands, what are you doing for the society, especially when there were a lot of stories about underprivileged. We dialed up our social initiatives where we tied up with NGOs across the various cities and delivered food to the underprivileged. So it's been two months now and the programme is still underway. So in a very small way, we were doing our bit for the society and this was again appreciated by customers. So I think it's very important for brands to realize the situation we are in and dial up programs accordingly."

But with lockdown rules being relaxed people are craving for their favourites, Arvind said. "So our messaging has changed in the context of reassuring customers about the safety of the food they are ordering. In these two months, we have seen at least three distinct phases in terms of consumer expectations and consumer sentiment and accordingly we have fashioned our communication." he added.

For some marketers the phase isn’t a marketing opportunity. Juneja shared how DHL Express has realised that this is a health crisis and there is a need for empathy. "As a brand when we are communicating externally there is also a lot our internal employees are also looking at what we are communicating. Therefore, that sense of responsibility is there in our communication. At a time like this, we realize that this is a health crisis and not really a marketing opportunity. At this point we are trying to sincerely embrace empathy. So in our communication we are trying to be genuine. We know that social distancing is not equal to customer distancing and therefore, being in touch with the customer is far more important than ever. We are in international logistics and therefore, for us to function we have to be on the ground, we have to be picking up, delivering, running vehicles, working at the airport, unloading our aircraft, loading across building containers etc. There's so much work to be done."

Talking about how they kept their communication going, Juneja said, "The organization was fully involved in negotiating and understanding the terms and conditions on how to operate and in all this chaos to maintain a clear narrative were very important. I think as we are inching towards opening up to, the customers are also looking at getting involved; they want to know what's going on. So we kept our communication very and very meaningful. The big question is how do we cut the clutter and communicate to people about what exactly they need to know. They need meaningful information right now. That's what we've been doing. And the one common string which is running in our communication is that we realize that positivity is far more important in these times. Therefore, we're trying to be sensitive, staying positive and trying to communicate happy and cheerful stimuli in order to drive away the attention from the negativity of the situation. So I think these are the three or four tenets we are basing our communications on," he added.

Some brands have also changed their business models to cater to the need of the hour. With regards to Fitternity’s style of functioning, Vora said: "By nature of our offerings are offline. I think the lockdown kind of shut all avenues of business for us. But we saw more and more people wanted to get into fitness. So the whole idea was to identify what formats of fitness we'll be able to cater to. We realized it is better to offer a series of formats rather than pinpointing on one format. So we kind of created a skew of offerings, which would cater to different segments of consumers. For example, if you are a consumer who's just entering fitness, if we provide you a pre-recorded video, for you to kind of watch and workout, there is a high possibility that you may end up getting injured. So that's when thought that let's create a high touch model. Let's get on board a few hundred thousand trainers from across the, country for all categories of fitness enthusiast-beginners as well as advanced practitioner."

He further explained the need to create sustainable equation between supply and demand. "So while we earlier used to help you find a class and go to it now the idea was how we get the class to you and how to do it in a group so that you get a sense of normal. The third thing that we did was to get a library of pre-recorded content with the aim to create scale and cater to a user base which was already into fitness and wanted to level up. So these are the kind of things that we've done.And I think the way we look at it's going to be a very interesting model in the future. So I think six months down the line, we'll actually have a yoga class happening in Bandra where eight people will be attending physically and 16 others would be attending from different parts of India virtually. Given the offerings, it's very important to communicate them in the right way," he added.

The panelists also discussed how the lockdown rules were slowly be eased and they predicted the economy would take anywhere between six to eighteen months to come back to normalcy where buying will go up and so will media spends by brands.

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Crossbeats gets Suryakumar Yadav as brand ambassador for its smartwatch category

The collaboration is part of the brand's endeavours to penetrate new markets

By e4m Staff | Sep 21, 2023 2:30 PM   |   2 min read


Consumer tech brand Crossbeats has roped in ace cricketer Suryakumar Yadav as the brand ambassador for its smartwatch category. This is the first time Crossbeats has signed a brand ambassador since its inception.

Suryakumar Yadav (SKY) will be the face of the brand’s existing and upcoming range of smartwatches. The collaboration promises to be a game changer for Crossbeats as it will open doors for the brand to penetrate the new market.

Archit Agarwal, Co-Founder of Crossbeats said, “We are thrilled to collaborate with SKY and extend a warm welcome to him into the Crossbeats family. His consistency as a match-winner reflects Crossbeats' energetic and dependable persona”.

On this association with Crossbeats- Suryakumar Yadav, who is exclusively managed by RISE Worldwide, said, “I have always believed in innovation, style and walking the extra mile for excellence. I am excited to partner with Crossbeats for their smartwatches category, which also pushes boundaries to strive for performance, design, aesthetics and technology.”

Crossbeats has always been the industry leader, however, this collaboration promises to be a game changer as it will open doors to penetrate the new market. With this new development, the brand is looking at redefining the smartwatch experience for the new generation and rigorously pushing its smartwatch segment in India. It is set to tap into new audiences and take the world of smartwatches by storm.

Stay tuned for what promises to be a game-changing inning in the world of smartwatches.

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Tennis player Sumit Nagal ties up with Gatorade

'This association comes to me at a pivotal time,' said Nagpal

By e4m Staff | Sep 21, 2023 2:02 PM   |   2 min read

sumit nagpal

After coming across Tennis player Sumit Nagal’s heartfelt confession, Gatorade® came forward to support Sumit by welcoming him to the Gatorade® family with a 3-year association. 

"With a vast history of supporting athletes across the world, Gatorade® has believed in enabling athletes to achieve peak performance. This move by Gatorade® underscores its commitment towards helping athletes. In addition, Sumit will be assisted on his recovery and nutrition needs under the guidance of a team of experts at the Gatorade® Sports Science Institute (GSSI). Gatorade® Sports Science Institute help athletes optimize their health and performance through research, innovation and education on hydration and nutrition science which is key element for sportspeople," said the brand. 

Ankit Agarwal, Associate Director, Energy & Hydration, PepsiCo India adds on the association, “Gatorade has always believed in supporting sportspeople to achieve peak performance. Sumit is a role model for the new-gen athletes of India with his career being a true example of hard work and sweat that makes talent shine. As a brand that is dedicated to supporting athletes in removing barriers to sporting success, we are delighted to welcome Sumit to the Gatorade squad. We wish him the best as he represents the nation, and we hope to empower the next generation of athletes with this association as they continue to pursue their dreams.” 

Tennis Player, Sumit Nagal said, “I am deeply moved and grateful to join hands with Gatorade. This association comes to me at a pivotal time, and I am thankful my hard work and passion is getting recognized and appreciated. With Gatorade by my side, I am sure I will reach new heights and give it my all both on and off the court.”

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KRAFTON India teams up with Hardik Pandya

This collaboration will soon bring exclusive in-game items inspired by Hardik Pandya's style and personality

By e4m Staff | Sep 21, 2023 1:48 PM   |   1 min read


BATTLEGROUNDS MOBILE INDIA (BGMI)has announced a new collaboration with cricketer Hardik Pandya.

This collaboration will soon bring exclusive in-game items inspired by Hardik Pandya's style and personality, such as outfits, helmets, skins, voice packs and cricket-themed emotes. BGMI players will be able to enjoy these items and express themselves in the game with Hardik Pandya's flair and charisma.

Sean Hyunil Sohn - CEO, KRAFTON India, expressed his enthusiasm on the collaboration, stating, "We are delighted to launch this collaboration with Hardik Pandya. Embodying the spirit of grit, skill and survival, he is a dynamic force in the world of cricket, and his passion is something that BGMI players can relate to. This collaboration is a celebration of this shared spirit, and we're excited to bring a fusion of cricket and gaming to our players. We look forward to working with him and creating memorable moments for our players."

Hardik Pandya, who is exclusively managed by RISE Worldwide, expressed his enthusiasm for the partnership, saying, "I have always enjoyed seeing the passion and fire of BGMI players, which has made it one of the most unique and popular games in the country. I am excited to be part of the BGMI family and can’t wait to see the players sport their cricket-themed avatars, emotes, and gear.”

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Our marketing budget is up by 15% this year: Shashank Srivastava, Maruti Suzuki

Srivastava, Senior Executive Officer, Marketing and Sales, Maruti Suzuki, talks marketing strategies and budgets on the 6th anniversary of the company's retail channel ARENA

By Aditi Gupta | Sep 21, 2023 1:41 PM   |   3 min read


Maruti Suzuki has rolled out a campaign ‘Find Your Match’ for its young buyers on the sixth anniversary of its retail channel ARENA.

exchange4media caught up with Shashank Srivastava, Senior Executive Officer, Marketing and Sales, Maruti Suzuki, who shared the idea behind the campaign and how this time the marketing budget is close to around Rs 1,000 crore, 15% up from last year.

Tell us about the campaign ‘Find Your Match’. How was it conceived?

We have launched this campaign on the occasion of the 6th anniversary of ARENA channel which is the number one channel in the automotive space. We have reached over 7 million people in six years and add 1 million every year. The rate is one lakh a month. India has a growing economy and a lot of young buyers come into the buying space every year. ARENA is normally the place where younger people buy their first cars. So we thought we’ll have a campaign not just for the product but the entire channel with ‘Find Your Match’.

It is based on the research on what the buyers are really looking for when buying a car. It is not just about buying functionality that is transportation but also their lifestyle and aspirations. Cars enable them to socialise and it is also a status symbol in Indian context. Consumers have a relationship with their first car and we wanted to give them the good experience of buying the car through ARENA. It meets different requirements.”  

What will be the marketing strategy for the campaign and the media mix?

We have realised that it has to be vernacular. Young buyers are consuming a lot of vernacular content. On TV and OTT, it is GEC that we are focusing on. For digital, we are spending almost 30 % of our overall spends. For ARENA anniversary we have especially used influencers.

What are the plans for the festive season? Will the marketing be any different from last time?

We are looking at vernacular in a big way. We’ll have 12 festive films in vernacular which we will run on GECs, OTT space and digital too. We ran one film in Malayalam during Onam. We have a whole calendar line-up with Navratra, Durga Puja, Dussehra, Diwali, Christmas, Lohri etc. We have 12 such films which we will run in the next few months largely in the TV/OTT space and digital as well.

What will be the marketing budget this time ?

We have the World Cup also this time so we will be rolling our campaigns there too. The budget has increased by 15 % over the last year. The annual budget for the marketing campaigns this year is close to about Rs 1000 crore.

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Kareena Kapoor Khan turns 43: Brand Bebo goes big this year

From Tira to Tata Play, a look at all the brands endorsed by the actor

By Sohini Ganguly | Sep 21, 2023 1:04 PM   |   3 min read

Kareena Kapoor

With the release of the crime thriller ‘Jaane Jaan’, Kareena Kapoor Khan has created quite a stir in the showbiz. The Sujoy Ghosh-directed Netflix Original went live today, on her 43rd birthday.  

From the fearless Geet in ‘Jab We Met’ to the regal Poo in ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham’, Khan has etched her presence in Bollywood ever since she set foot in the glam industry. As one of the highest-paid actresses, Khan has a net worth of around Rs 485 crores today. She ranked 7th on the Indian Institute of Human Brand's survey on Power Couples (2022) along with her husband Saif Ali Khan. Khan has 10.9 million followers on Instagram as of this day.   

But her cinematic journey is not the only facet that defines her. Most of her net worth is defined by the brands she endorses and is associated with.  

For instance, her most recent association with Reliance-owned Tira Beauty made headlines. The brand roped in Kareena, Kiara Advani and Suhana Khan as the faces of its campaign. The campaign celebrates the role of beauty and how people use it to express themselves, including this star trio.

MyTrident, the flagship home furnishing brand of Trident Group, also roped Khan in this year, as their brand ambassador during the launch of its Fall-Winter’23 collections.

MyTrident, the flagship home furnishing brand of Trident Group, also roped Khan in this year, as their brand ambassador during the launch of its Fall-Winter’23 collections.

Warner Bros. Discovery in India launched a TVC this year, featuring Khan to promote its new network channels bundle including Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, TLC, Discovery Kids, Cartoon Network, Pogo, Eurosport, Discovery Turbo, CNN, Dtamil, Discovery Science, and Investigation Discovery. 

One of her longest-standing associations has been with sports apparel brand Puma, which has continued since 2020. Every time one decides to scroll through Bebo’s Instagram handle, a Puma collaboration is most likely to appear among the top posts!

She has also time and again been seen on Tata Play Binge ads, alongside her husband. The ads generally take a quirky and humorous tone, that further leads to a massive engagement on social handles.

Apart from mainstream endorsements, Khan has also collaborated with names like UNICEF, to spread awareness about the importance of education to children and the impact on their future. Her collaboration with GSK too, looked at ensuring kids are vaccinated against flu.

Among other brands in Khan’s list of brand associations are Berger Paints, Fizzy Goblet, Drools India, TOPS, Netmeds and Springfit Mattresses.

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e4m Pitch Top 50 Brands 2023: Celebrating trailblazing brands in ‘Digital-First’ category

This category includes technology-driven brands that drive growth and business through digital capabilities

By e4m Staff | Sep 21, 2023 11:45 AM   |   2 min read

e4m Pitch Top 50 Brands 2023

The upcoming edition of e4m Pitch 50 Brands will be held on October 18 in Gurugram in the presence of top industry leaders and experts. The one-of-its-kind event is set to be a gala affair, bringing together the brightest minds and trailblazing brands from the advertising and marketing ecosystem.

From breakthrough technologies to groundbreaking strategies, the award night will honour top five brands across ten categories for their exemplary work. The 10 categories include - Bottom of the Pyramid, Challengers, Digital First, Evergreens, Impactful Debuts, Luxe, Newsmakers, Regionals, Resurgents and Social Contributors.

In this article, we will explore more about the ‘Digital First’ category that includes technology-driven brands, a technology product or a technology-enabled product. The brands under this category must have technology at the heart of the product or brand and must have a clearly-defined revenue stream. Digital-first brands are those that leverage technology and the digital landscape to create seamless, personalized experiences for their customers through innovation and data-driven insights.

In the fast-paced and evolving scenario that we live in today, the digital-first brands are characterized by their agility as they are quick to adapt to emerging technologies to enhance customer experiences. The ‘Digital First’ brands have the potential to leverage the power of data analytics and streamline their strategies and connect with their audience.

This year, the Advisory Board will be chaired by D Shivakumar, Operating Partner, Advent International, and Former Chairperson & Chief Executive Officer, PepsiCo India. The other members include Anuja Mishra, CMO, Honasa (Mamaearth, BBlunt, The DermaCo, Aqualogica), Amal Kelshikar, Executive Director, Torrent Pharmaceuticals Ltd; Ajay Gupte, Chief Executive Officer-South Asia, Wavemaker; Dheeraj Sinha, Managing Director, Leo Burnett; Poonam Kaul, Former CMO of Apple India; Rohit Ohri, Chairman & CEO, FCB Ulka India; Rahul Talwar, Chief Marketing Officer, Max Life Insurance; Sunil Suresh, CMO, Global Head of Marketing, Corp Comm, Loyalty & Business Head eCom, Air India; Sanjeev Jasani, COO, Cheil India and Vikram Sakhuja, Group CEO, Madison Media & OOH.

In 2022, a total of four brands won under the ‘Digital First category. Lenskart, Nykaa, Pharmeasy and PhonePe took home the honours under this category for effectively embracing digital technologies and channels to engage with customers and drive business.

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Hyundai Motor India posts 38% jump in ad spends in FY23

PAT saw an uptick of 63%

By Sohini Ganguly | Sep 21, 2023 8:44 AM   |   2 min read


Hyundai Motor India posted a 37.6% jump in ad spends, in FY’23 as compared to FY’22. The company spent around Rs 491 crores in FY’22, and increased it to Rs 677 crores in FY’23. The auto major also saw around 27% increase in its revenue from operations, as it went from Rs 47,042 crores to Rs 59,761 crores.  

The standalone profit before tax and profit after tax for FY’23 was around Rs 6,268 crores and Rs. 4,653 crores respectively as compared to Rs 3,722 crores and Rs 2,861 crores respectively for the FY 21-22, recording an increase of 68.4% in PBT and 62.6% in PAT respectively.  

In fiscal year 2022-23, India's electric car sales surpassed one million units. According to the data from the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV), the whole EV industry sold 11.7 lakh units in FY’23, as against 4.58 lakh units in the previous financial year, a significant 154% year-over-year increase with two-wheelers accounting for 62% of the sales and 4 wheelers only 4%.  

Hyundai in its financial report shared the company is also accelerating its electrification strategy to become a market leader in the EV system.  

The total production of the company for FY’23 was 7.27 lakh units as against 6.06 lakh units in the previous year, an increase of 20%. It also registered its highest ever sales in FY’23. All the Marquee Hyundai models like Creta, Venue, Alcazar, Tucson, Aura and Grand i10 Nios registered their highest ever annual numbers in FY’23. 

The domestic sales during the year was 5.67 lakh units as against 4.81 lakh units in the previous year, registering a growth of 17.9%. On the export front, Hyundai’s sales increased from 1.29 lakh units to 1.53 lakh units, a growth of 18.4% contributed mainly by African and Latin American markets.  

The company is also in the process of increasing the production capacity to 8,50,000 units p.a. to meet the market demand by further automating certain processes. It mentioned in its report that it will introduce advanced technologies like AI and digitalisation to enable the transformation of the entire factory to a Smart Factory.

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