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Youth, inexperience causing disruption in media

MUMBAI: As more and more brands try to reach out to consumers, disruption is becoming necessary. It determines how and when companies communicate with consumers. Youth and inexperience are allies in helping cause disruptive experiences both in media and in other fields.

This point was made in a session called ‘Dialogues on Disruption’, which took place before Bloomberg TV’s 2016 Disruptors Awards that celebrated excellence in advertising and marketing.

Sam BalsaraMadison World chairman and MD Sam Balsara noted that disruption is a newly evolved word of innovation. “The reason that we talk about it is that today there is too much of everything. There are too many products, an excess number of channels and lots of free commercial time,” he said.

At the same time, the amount of money available is limited. Companies will do anything to extract money and profit. “One needs a different disruptive idea that has not been tried before,” he observed.

Balsara also warned that while the traditional TVC is not dead, the ROI from it is sharply coming down. “This is impacting TV, media and advertising.”

ParthoBARC India CEO Partho Dasgupta made the point about inexperience helping create a disruptive experience. “None of the management team had done this before. We started with a clean slate. This included everything from governance to implementation. We hadn’t seen this business before. We created a system that has no legacy but delivers something real.”

He also defended his organisation, saying that for an individual no two evenings are the same. Yet for television, people expect channel ratings to be the same week after week and month after month. “When ratings went up and down, people asked why. People don’t have the same evenings,” he said.

Sunil AlaghSunil Alagh, who used to head Britannia, noted that disruption is about breaking product clutter to get noticed. He gave the example of Britannia using Gabbar in an ad. It was shown as being a homegrown product loved by a robber. He noted that news anchor Arnab Goswami and American presidential aspirant Donald Trump are disruptors. Paytm is another example of a disruptor that joins the dots if you have ATM on the mobile phone. The banking system has been disrupted.

Future Group CEO sports, media and special projects Sandip Tarkas maintained that the difference between innovation and disruption is that with disruption one cannot go back to the old way of doing things. He also made the point that inexperience is the biggest ally of disruption. Youth for him is also an ally. He offered the example of his company doing 52 TVCs in 52 weeks. The producers were inexperienced and youthful, and the strategy worked.

He also said that consumers can be disruptors. Giving the example of Nestle, he said that the company initially struggled with the Maggi controversy. Aamir Khan and the intolerance issue is another example.

At the same time, consumers do not always know what is possible. They have been shown the way. A good example of this, according to him, is what Apple has been doing.

When asked about the use of social media, Balsara noted that companies are backward on the social media curve compared to consumers. “Until recently, companies did not recognise the positive or negative aspect. So far, it has always been a top-down approach. The idea earlier was to say something that would trigger a purchase. Advertising used to be a one-way message. Now any one person can inflict damage,” he said.

Balsara went on to say that someone can utter something on social media at 3 pm and by 9 pm it can catch fire. “Now companies feel adequate to fight it despite having resources. News channels and newspapers pick it up. It could be something like a consumer saying that s/he found a roach in a biscuit packet.”

He added that companies are not confident about what they should say. They fear that there might be a lawsuit or blackmail.

Tarkas conceded that companies are playing catch-up. “Technology is an enabler for consumers. We have social media listening centres. Saying we are sorry to the consumer works.” However, he also noted that often a consumer is too peeved by the time a company gets the message.

At the awards ceremony, Star India won the Disruptor of the Year Advisory Council award for the ‘Mauka Mauka’ campaign. The campaign was done last year during the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Gayatri Yadav

Star India executive VP, marketing and communications Gayatri Yadav noted that the campaign had three disruption levels. The broadcaster went to the agency with the brief of the India–Pakistan rivalry.

The aim was to make the 5–0 scoreline come alive. Then it was decided that it would be better to focus on 0–5. Fans waiting for 20 years for that win could be more interesting.

An ad was put up on Facebook, and although it was not promoted, it got serious traction in 10 hours. The decision was taken to continue with ‘Mauka Mauka’. India played South Africa and the scoreline was 4–0. The difference was that India was zero.

The third level is emotion, explained Yadav. While rivalry divides, the power of sport is that it unites fans. She also noted that the word ‘Mauka’ means the same in both India and in Pakistan.

She observed that to be a disruptor, one has to be both passionate and willing to let go. One has to both passionately believe and question everything. One has to challenge oneself and be open to it.

In the past, Star Sports had done a campaign for the online destination by telling viewers to get away from TV. While people were surprised, the company was reframing who it was.