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George Kovoor

Content creators, content platforms and creative professionals in the branded content space believe that media agencies should stick to media strategy and execution and leave the creative storytelling to them.

But breaking the stereotypical notion about media agencies is Wavemaker India, which recently launched a long-form seven-and-a-half-minute video branded content ‘Tai’, driven by creative storytelling for its client Gemini Cooking Oil.

The film:

George Kovoor, Chief Creative Officer, Wavemaker India, said, “I don't think we call ourselves just a media agency. Creativity is deeply embedded in Wavemaker’s DNA and this is what differentiates us from other media agencies. We are an agency that uses data, technology and media creatively to tell our stories. This can also be gauged through the agency hiring me earlier this year as I have spent most of my career working in creative agencies. In total, Wavemaker India is a content media company, led by creativity, technology, and data.”

The film features the story of entrepreneur Meenakshi Walke, popularly known as the ‘Bamboo Lady of India’.

The film is part of Gemini’s campaign #EkAurPehechan, which is the brand’s endeavour to bolster the journey of the ever-evolving homemaker to fulfil her own aspirations.

The brand’s philosophy is to liberate women from the kitchen so that they can get more time to find their own identity, added Kovoor.

It explores Meenakshi Walke's life experiences and the extraordinary path she has carved for herself by overcoming challenges and societal pressures to start her own bamboo venture, which has led to worldwide recognition for her and employment for over a thousand other women.

The role of the protagonist is played by Marathi actress, Vibhavari Deshpande, who brings Meenakshi’s inspiring story to life on screen. The film also features Marathi film actress Shubhangi Gokhale in the role of Meenakshi’s mother-in-law, highlighting her role in helping Meenakshi realise her true potential.

While this is the first film that Wavemaker has created for the brand, the agency has plans to come up with more such inspiring stories discovered through news, user-generated content and personal experiences.

Kovoor added, “The campaign itself ends with a call to the audience to send more such stories. The thought is to make ‘Ek Aur Pehechan’ a platform where one finds incredible, interesting, and inspiring stories of women. On top of it, we want people to look at the film not from an advertising lens but like a normal short film.”

Tai film was created in the end of 2022 but took time to come alive. Explaining the reason behind what took so much for the film to come to life, Kovoor said, “A film of this scale takes time. Also, it takes a lot of courage for a brand to agree to a 7.5-minute film. There was a lot of back and forth regarding the ideal duration of the film. But given the response we are receiving on the film, it’s worth the wait.”

The film premiered recently in August 2023, in an episode of Kaun Banega Crorepati Marathi, where the real and reel artists, Meenakshi Walke and Vibhavari Deshpande participated as contestants on the show.

The film is also being organically picked by the influencers in the Marathi community, social activists and NGOs, Kovoor told

In 2021, Gemini launched a non-fictional content initiative in the form of a chat show ‘Ek Aur Pehechan’ hosted by Bollywood actress Neena Gupta. The show featured four real-life, inspirational women – now successful entrepreneurs – who took time out from their roles as cooks to create distinct identities of their own. These women spoke with Gupta about the challenges they have had to overcome to break stereotypical norms and pursue their dreams.

One of the episodes from the chat show:

It is proven that a branded content IP garners maximised ROI only when it’s consistently taken forward over a long period of time. Doing ‘on-offs’ can offer a sudden spurt, but the impact is deeper when a particular branded content IP is sustained and carried forward in the long run.

Basis the same, when asked about why the brand didn’t continue with the chat show format and what took so much time for it to launch another content initiative, Kovoor said, “We keep on experimenting between content formats. As an agency, our aim is to find the best ways to engage the consumer rather than being stuck with formats. It’s not like the chat show didn’t work. We can still continue with the chat show. It’s a natural progression for us to experiment with long-form branded content this time around. We think that storytelling should be above the content format. Even the chat show featured inspiring stories of women. We are just telling the same stories in different ways. This form of long-form storytelling is allowing the brand to connect with the audience better.”

A lot of brands are experimenting with non-fictional branded content formats because it’s a sure-shot-tested way of sharing more authentic, credible real stories of real people. On the other hand, creating impactful fictional branded content is not everyone’s cup of tea. Unless the storytelling and narration are not relatable and meaningful, consumers will not pay attention to it.

Sharing his opinion on fictional versus non-fictional branded content, Kovoor said, “Both have a space in the world of branded content. I am a storyteller and we must utilise both formats if we have a good story to tell depending on the brand’s objective. Also, not many brands want to invest that kind of time, money, and effort in creating powerful fictional long-form branded content. In that sense, Cargill is quite a breakthrough brand that has the guts to invest in a long-form film like ‘Tai’.

Brands have the power to influence consumer behaviour and evolve their thinking. Why do brands related to cooking keep on targeting women in their communication, including Gemini Oil’s latest content initiative?

Kovoor answered, “This film is gender agnostic and not targeted only at women. This film can move a man as much as it can move a woman. Having said that, while sitting in cities we can talk about gender equality, women in smaller towns still need the nudge and motivation to think about fulfilling their dreams and aspirations. We want women in smaller towns to move out of the kitchens and do something for themselves. As a brand, Gemini Oil aims to bring about that societal change.”

He further said, “You should also notice that we have not told a story of a small-town woman becoming an astronaut or doctor, but a woman who went out to become a bamboo lady. We want women in smaller towns to take smaller steps and find their own identity by doing something in which they are good at.”

A branded content is only good if the brand’s integration into the story is subtle and not glaring into the face of the consumers. But it’s not easy to persuade a marketer to spend money on something that doesn’t really directly talk about the product. When it comes to ‘Tai’ film, the brand integration has been quite subtle. So, how did Wavemaker go about persuading the brand to believe in the film that doesn’t sell the brand directly or force fit the product?

Kovoor answered, “Generally, a brand wouldn’t want to invest money in a 5-7 minute film which doesn’t show their product, but kudos to team Cargill that they understand the nuances of branded content and the power of good storytelling.”

As per Kovoor, be it short-form or long-form content, the only thing that matters is powerful storytelling that makes connections.

Client: Cargill India Pvt. Ltd.
Brand: Gemini Cooking Oils
Created, conceptualised & scripted by: Wavemaker Content
Directed by: Puneet Prakash
Produced by: Wavemaker films and E02 EXP
Executive Producer: Farzeen Khan
Producers: Risheeta Agrawal and Rishabh Agrawal
Production Design: Nikita Rana and Kalyani Shah
Music by: Aanand Bajpai
Lyrics: Vibhuti Upadhyay
Vocals: Priya Mallick
Strategy: Ravi lyer
Director of Photography: Jay Charola
Creative Team: Deepak Ramesh, Anshul Aggarwal and Pooja Jadon
Business & Project Management: Sukanya Paul, Kritika Singh, Aditya Gaur, Aditi Thakur and Vaibhav Pankaj
WM Films Team: Rajeesh Tk and Nilesh Malhotra
Art Team: Dilip Gawas, Harshvardhan Risbud, Chetan Vyas and Usman Irani
Media Team: Ashima Handa, Divyaraj Chauhan and Anirudh Saxena