e4m India Brand Conclave: ‘It’s not only about being on air but also being relevant’

At e4m’s very first ‘Dakshin Virtual Series,’ experts deliberated on the future of the television industry in a world shaped by the pandemic

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: May 19, 2020 7:42 PM
Show must go on

The first live moderated online panel discussion as part of the 'e4m India Brand Conclave - Dakshin Virtual Series,' was moderated by Ruhail Amin of exchange4media with six panellists including Rani Reddy, Director, Sakshi Media Group; V Chandra Barathi, COO, News 7 Tamil; PR Satheesh, Chief Operating Officer, MMTV; Puneet Das, VP, Marketing - Beverages, India, Tata Consumer Products; Amit Sethiya, Chief Marketing Officer, Syska Group; and Radhika Ramani – Managing Partner- South, Motivator on the topic 'The Show Must Go On: Emerging Stronger Post Covid-19’ 

Speaking about the how channels in the south have been leveraging the spike in viewership in the last 50 odd days, Rani Reddy, Director, Sakshi Media Group said, "One has not been able to leverage the additional viewership we have got during this period. Regional channels mostly rely on a higher rate of advertising for local clients," adding that most clients have been off-air, enough though this was a season for educational clients to be on air.

Commenting on the same, PR Satheesh, COO, MMTV understands that clients have taken this decision, looking at their top line and bottom line. "Some brands in the FMCG sector have seized this opportunity and got a lot more for the money that they have spent," he said, emphasising that both advertisers and brands have benefitted. 

He speaks about Kerala, which has seen lesser coronavirus cases and is flattening the curve. "Most shops are open and we expect a certain update in the local retail business, which is fairly large in Kerala. There is greater opportunity and reach available and advertisers should look at it more seriously", Satheesh adds, acknowledging that local businesses ought to be back soon.

Speaking about how brands are seeing the spike in channel viewership in the south, Amit Sethiya, CMO, Syska Group said, "When it comes to my segment, which is FMEG, distribution set up in the country and how we communicate as a brand are two most important things. For us, there is no demarcation in the south and non-south markets since our products are required by everyone."  

However, Sethiya believes that the fundamental challenge he faces as a brand is looking out for investments to communicate with south audiences since the content creation for South cannot be the same as the Hindi content which can be used throughout other states in India.  

Agencies that have been the middleman since time immemorial are of complete faith that effective planning is the need of the hour. On advising what brands must do in the current scenario, Radhika Ramani, Managing Partner, South, Motivator said that media agencies are looking forward to getting more for less. "When you are seeing a spike in viewership, your choices are also quite wide. What channel essentially plays the most efficient route to your consumer is what we're looking at and what we advise our brands as well," she said.  

Luring brands into this profitable scenario is something all news channels seeing an upsurge in viewership are on. However, this situation has also called for brands negotiating at full force with advertisers for reduction of rates. V Chandra Barathi, COO News 7 Tamil said "This period has garnered a very high number of eyeballs. However, during the lockdown, there have been tough negotiations in terms of reducing the rates. Going forward, we expect to look at the same trend for the broadcasters from the advertisers."  

Interestingly, many of the brands who were keen on advertising their TVCs at lower rates were the ones who would otherwise be placed at a premium. Now that there is no concept of a premium, broadcasters might have had a very tough time convincing their clients to invest in their network.  

For brands too, these are exceptional times. Post the lockdown, understanding what the consumer concerns are seeing, the right thing to do will be key.  

"The immediate challenge is to ensure that there are adequate supplies in markets which are opening up and have already opened up. You have to have enough feet on the street to deliver products. This is not just about being on air, it is also about being relevant", said Puneet Das, VP, Marketing, Beverages, India, Tata Consumer Products, who also believed that brands must be silent if they have nothing to say. He adds that a good marketer must keep his eyes on the ground.  

Now that networks are facing a boom in viewership, a few might speculate what it might mean, once the lockdown ends. Satheesh is of view that everyone has had a fair share of challenges even before the lockdown. Post which ratings and viewership have gone up. Some must have got proportionate growth and some must have de-grown. "It's about how good the comeback is going to be from our content side, and how quickly we can create original content and get more eyeballs apart from what we already have", said Satheesh adding that everybody's effort is going to be in the same direction, especially in the entertainment space. 

 Channels are still on a high and might see a little bit of a drop when they get back to a new normal, which would probably be sometime in June when original content could come back.  

Reddy believes that TV has always had its own audience, which never went away. Cinemas, on the other hand, are not set to function anytime soon. She said, "In terms of content, from a news channel perspective, people are looking at something beyond hysterical debates. One needs to become mood elevators and give a good measure of both reality and also the positive side." With all the negativity going around, she believes that channels need to build more hope since people were never prepared for this situation. 

Media, in this case, will have to play a very important role in sustaining interest and with the right content strategy, channels would be able to further sustain consumer viewership.  

The marketing mix so far has been in favour of TV and Digital, which take up a 45% pie share in the current situation, although there are several other focus areas. 

Speaking of this, Ramani said, "There are consumer sentiments which have been weakened right now. Post-COVID, television and digital are still going to be important mediums which will survive, but how we evolve is going to change. Regional media brands have a big role to play and market prioritization of brand is going to change depending on the progress of the COVID situation."  

This will lend a great opportunity to the regional brands and localisation will become very important. It will also make for newer opportunities in tier 2 and tier 3 markets. 

 Speaking of how the future situation is going to be, Sethiya believes that things are going to be far more demanding and that any amount of money put in will need to work harder for brands. "Marketing will derive money from the top line itself. It's going to be agile and the pressure will be on performance rather than the other deliverables we used to look at," he adds. 

According to Das, those who are advertising at the moment are there for the long term and their idea is to ensure long term relationship with the viewers. Tata's plan has always included doing what was the need of the hour.  

On the futuristic perspective, Reddy is sure that categories such as FMCG, home fitness products, E-commerce pharmaceuticals and grocers will see a boom and will definitely increase their sale during this period. The strategy would be to not compromise on rates but give value ads.  

Speaking on the same lines, Satheesh said, "Brands that are advertising on our channels have used all possible advantages and might come back with some deeper briefs. We've tried to capitalize on certain opportunities that have come in the past few weeks beyond which we also made some original content for a channel. We're being innovative in our content in the entertainment space."  

Ramani's advice to brands is to not go completely quiet since each brand has its own challenges. "The kind of communication you're providing to your consumer should be relevant and will be key at this moment because consumer sentiments and behaviour is very different now. You have to understand the mindset of your consumer and address it accordingly," she added.  

On the additional damage control for his brand, Sethiya said, "Syska isn't a diversified brand and is not only into bulbs. We're also into grooming products and the demand for grooming products have shot up in this period since people cannot go out and groom themselves. We ensured that our products were available in local markets and we decided to use digital channels." 

 Reddy agrees that this has been the worse period, leaving behind other situations like demonetisation and recession. "Constant spending won't apply here. There are brands which are hit because of no demand and some because of no way to supply." 

 However, in the end, Satheesh believes that the next 6-8 months will be better and far more exciting. "Original Content has to come back, cinemas have to come out and entertainment has to come back to our life. People have to consume content that they are used to," he said strongly. 

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