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D2C home and sleep solutions brand has charged 2020 with being such a terrible year that it is neither worth remembering nor easy to forget. And it’s not the first to do so. Users across social media have cursed the year aplenty with hashtags like #fcuk2020. But that hasn’t stopped it from grabbing attention. Because when a brand, usually a beacon of positivity, gets contemptuous through googly-eyed cartoon figures, does it matter if the sentiment is many months old?

For brands wishing they had got to this idea first, here are your takeaways for next time.

Make use of the advantages offered by branded content

Branded content allows you to creatively engage users by tapping into their emotions and acknowledging their experiences. It gives you the chance to leverage the more subtle connections that exist between your brand and culture; connections that may not have been acknowledged by your category but will emphasise your brand’s relevance in more original ways. has utilised this aspect of branded content by creating ‘Bhaad Mein Jaa 2020’. Its recap qawwali ties in its mattress with this year’s stressful events through a simple message: every few days will bring a different calamity, so much so that it might turn the whole year disastrous. The best way to get through it is with a restful night of sleep. This message is largely conveyed by having the singers sit on a Wakefit mattress as they list the many setbacks from 2020. doesn't shy away from highlighting some of the year's more controversial and politicised happenings like the migrant crisis or the on-going farmer's protest. It doesn't compromise on the cultural relevance of its communication by skirting around topics that may attract trolls. Instead, the brand navigates them deftly — through humour and without blaming any party involved.

Through branded content, it is able to build an emotional connect without blatantly pitching its product while simultaneously ensuring brand presence.

Don’t follow trends just because they’re trends

Yes, trends can reflect where the pulse of your audience lies. But thoughtlessly following them can lead to the creation of copies upon copies that end up being ignored for their lack of novelty and obvious pandering. could have created a mushy and weepy recap that showed people bravely overcoming the turbulence from this year. Or told its audience that despite all that has happened, the brand has continued to stick with them. Or even created a rap instead of a qawwali, since that seems to be preferred genre since Gully Boy’s release. 

But much to its audience’s delight, it has done none of those things. Instead, the brand has carefully weighed its creative options against the idea and gone ahead with what fits best: humour over a serious-tone so when people look back, they aren’t weighed down for a change. Graphics over a photo-real representation, because real people might compromise how comical the piece turns out. Allowing the recap mass appeal through easy lyrics and a simple concept rather than turning it into a high-brow exercise as news outlets do. Qawwali is a home-grown format of social commentary rather than the recently popularised rap that holds global connotations.

And lo and behold — the content has proven successful despite doing things differently.

Wrapping up

This example from has come at an opportune moment: around the closing of the year when brands evaluate the strategies they employed and identify the opportunities, they would like to explore in the next one. Will the lessons from this piece of branded content form part of what your brand tries out next year?

(The author, Hamsini Shivakumar is a semiotician, brand strategy consultant and the founder of Leapfrog Strategy Consulting. In her weekly column for BuzzInContent, she and her team analyse interesting content pieces done by brands in terms of their cultural leverage and effectiveness of brand integration. According to her, the content has a symbiotic relationship to popular culture; it helps to form culture and draws from it. It works as part of a simultaneous and virtuous cycle of mutual reinforcement.)