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Festivals are a time of joy and celebration. It is a time of togetherness, good deeds and shopping. Values of joy, celebration, being together are often emphasised by brands for their respective messaging. Branded content visualises the feeling and spirit of festivals for their consumers. 

Content that centres around festivities tend to focus on the virtues of sharing, giving back, and caring about the happiness of people around. This category of content often sees the brand or brand products assuming the role of a facilitator.

Consumers are able to introduce an element of joy among their family and friends through the services and products offered by a brand. Such pieces of branded content constitute what we have previously termed as a ‘hybrid’

Examples of the aforementioned category show promotion of virtues goes hand in hand with the promotion of the product as seen in these short videos:

Oppo - #BeTheLight to Spread Light

The short film by Oppo is about sharing a smile with those who are deprived of it. It follows the tedious year-long journey of a small boy who wants to have a sparkler for Diwali. He gets his wish with the help of his tuition teacher who in turn receives a new Oppo phone. Hence, the phone is equated with the eponymous ‘light’ and the sparkler- all helping in spreading the smile.

Ford- Open Doors to a New Beginning

One major feature of festivals is travelling home. Ford’s video shows a mother travelling to her daughter’s place as the latter cannot make it home. It challenges the notion of a mother or a woman driving alone and defines the same as a new beginning.

These promote their products subtly while playing around with the association that festivals share with joy and home.

Another category also discussed previously- branded content that celebrates the festive spirit with or without promoting products or services. Such pieces thrive just on the power of the message that they are delivering and definitely increase the brand visibility. Case in point:

Mankind - #SpreadTheKindness

This short film shows a hotel owner who has an act of kindness coming back to him. Just when he is forced to sell away his hotel to save his dying wife, a doctor buys it for him. The doctor turns out to be from the same orphanage with which the hotel owner had been associated.

Although the short film by Mankind focuses on the kindness of people, it does position the brand as a kind caregiver too. The message thus inspires consumers to be kind just as the brand is, to give care as the brand does.

More often than not, brands capitalise on feelings of empathy, kindness, home, and care when producing content around festivals. Products are often placed as entities that can assist consumers as they take notice of those on the margins:

Tanishq- Durga Pujo

Ad by Tanishq talks about appreciating the ‘karigars’ or the workmen who make festivals special. While celebrating artisans who adorn the goddess, Tanishq celebrates its own jewellery artisans too.

On the similar lines as Tanishq is:

Tata Tea- Dil Se Rich Dilli

Here too, the product places itself as a token of appreciation towards those who make festivals and celebrations possible- the drivers, gardeners, cooks, etc.

So, by and large, the theme in both short ads and branded content is somewhat broad in the sense that it either talks about extending empathy, sharing kindness or taking note of others. A keen emphasis is given to a collective feeling and togetherness.

We now come to the new category of ‘sale festivals’. The month of October in India precedes major religious festivals almost all over the country. It is thus invariably a time to shop. E-commerce brands such as Flipkart (which incidentally was founded in October), Amazon, Myntra come up with massive week-long sales that are cleverly billed as ‘festivals’. Amazon for instance has termed its sale the “Great Indian Festivals.”

This year these so-called festivals by e-commerce brands also saw their fair share of branded content:

Amazon - Festival Band Live

In collaboration with Sony Music, Amazon organised an entire band festival to further promote its brand festival. Amazon got together the likes of Monali Thakur and Harrdy Sandhu perhaps in order to give a more holistic feeling to their festival.

Flipkart - Big Billion Days

Flipkart launched two quiz game shows along with its major sale festival- the Big Billion Day. Hosted by Manish Paul and including a good cohort of Bollywood stars, the games complimented Flipkart’s sale festival well. Apart from increasing the app usage among users, these games were also able to generate a feeling of carnival or a fiesta albeit online.

Interestingly, the content around e-commerce festivals lies quite in contrast to the content observed in the first half of this article. The second set focuses overwhelmingly on the individual and their shopping. While promoting festivals of their own making, brands move away from the interpretation of festivals as collective events and move towards consumers’ personal needs. They thus attempt to redefine festivals in a manner that appeals to the individual also and the individual in question uses their agency to shop for their own selves.

Festivals being such huge repositories of emotions and shopping pleasure, it was only inevitable that brand communications would move away from collective values to individual choices, from an excess of sentiment to fun and thrills. The good news for branded content is that there are many positions that brands can take in the cultural space of festivals.