Television is very much alive for us: Sudhir Sitapati, HUL

Sitapati, Executive Director, Foods & Refreshment, Hindustan Unilever Limited, delved into the world of purposeful advertising and how it can actually help deliver business results

e4m by exchange4media Mumbai Bureau
Published: Sep 25, 2019 8:40 AM  | 3 min read


Sudhir Sitapati Conclave

We live in a world of constant flux where new trends are emerging, the population is booming and technology is advancing. With that, power is shifting. And marketers are being forced to evolve and adapt. While advertising will always be rooted in brand essence and strategy, businesses are increasingly being challenged to imbue greater purpose into their campaigns.

So how can forward-thinking companies align their brand with meaningful stories and issues that are of the essence? At the e4m Conclave 2019, Sudhir Sitapati, Executive Director, Foods & Refreshment, Hindustan Unilever Limited, decoded the same, delving into the world of purposeful advertising and how it can actually help deliver business results. 

Sitapati acknowledged that while there are increasing discussions around whether purpose is just soft-talk or consumers actually buy them, purpose-led ads can actually help deliver business.

Sharing an example of the ‘Daag Ache Hain’ ad he worked on for Surf Excel in 2005 which shaped his perspective on purposeful advertising, he said, “Back then, we didn’t call this piece of work purposeful advertising  but what we did notice is that two weeks after we aired the ad, our proven ad recall had shot up and six weeks later our sales shot up.” According to Sitapati, if you do a highly famous piece of work, sales are driven. “Not many things drive sales by the way, but fame does,” he stated.

Years later, the detergent brand continued on the same theme which brought a different lesson on purpose-led marketing. The commercial mud-soaked young student mimicking his favourite teacher's dog despite resonating with consumers had elicited controversy. “When you get on the purpose journey, there will always two points of view. If there aren’t two points of view, you aren’t pushing yourself far enough,” he concluded.

 At the heart of it, Sitapati pointed out has to be a category-insight that brands can tap into, such as the one Brooke Bond did. “Hospitality melts hostility,” he revealed was his brief to the brand’s agency Ogilvy which resulted in the brand’s first breakthrough ad on the lines of ‘Swaad apnepan ka’. “Lots of people create content but the sharpness in thought is of the essence,” he remarked.

Sitapati also shed light on how TV moves brand metrics and what it takes to get it right for the medium. “Television is very much alive for us. We spend 80 to 85% on TV advertising for Brooke Bond,” he revealed. He accepts that purpose is a tough road to traverse and the brand has had to face brickbats for building content on various social tensions in the society which at times are taken in the wrong stride by people.

He adds, ”Getting it right requires not just a great idea but also discipline and courage to keep up to it".

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