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When the government announced a nationwide lockdown in March, the marketing team of Wakefit decided to do virtual meetings around 10:00 am every day to brainstorm ideas to continue the communication going between the brand and consumers. Unable to devise a fool-proof plan, Wakefit decided to do a consumer survey to figure out what the consumers want and feel these days, which became the genesis of the brand’s recent viral videos, Open Letters ‘Dear Married Men’ and Dear Office’.

Dear Office video:

Dear Married Men video:

Chaitanya Ramalingegowda

Chaitanya Ramalingegowda, Co-Founder,, said, “As soon as the lockdown was announced, we decided that every morning the marketing team would get together and brainstorm. It was initially very stressful. All the leaders in the marketing department didn’t know what to do. How painstakingly we had built the brand, and suddenly we had to stop everything. The problem in front of us was how do we remain in the consumers’ mind without asking them to buy anything? Then we decided not to brainstorm in isolation and interact with the customers to see what they feel and that’s where the answers will come from.”

Through the consumer survey, the brand found out nearly 49% people said corona-related fear and anxiety was leading to loss of sleep.

The survey helped the brand reach its insight. Sandeep Balan, Partner, Branded Content, Spring Marketing Capital, and the writer behind the open letters, explained, “From the time we started doing content with ‘Sleep Internship’, ‘Sleep India Sleep’, ‘Honest Shopping Experience’, the theme has always been around sleep. Even when the lockdown was announced, people thought that they can finally sleep more now. But when it actually happened, people weren’t able to sleep well because of a lot of things going on in their minds regarding job and salary cuts. Different people had different things keeping them awake at night. So we thought of attacking sleeplessness as it falls under the larger bucket of sleep and then weave it in the mattress angle. We also intend to bring out the message that sleep improves immunity and keeps viruses at bay.”

Till now, the brand has produced around seven content pieces in the form of open letters as part of the microsite Postbox and Lockdown Manual, which has over 60 articles, everything from work from home productivity to fitness to yoga to meditation. These properties are specially created for the lockdown period. The brand is generating a lot of UGC on Postbox, where it asks consumers to share their feelings in the form of open letters, and the best ones would be featured on the brand’s microsite and the social media handles.

A few other open letters:

Talking about the strategy to use open letters as a format for the videos, Ramalingegowda, said, “Lockdown meant we had limitations when it comes to the creation of the content. So, we had to conceptualise, script, shoot and post-produce it all remotely. We created a concept called Post Box, where Wakefit will act as a postman. People can send open letters to whoever they feel important in their lives. We will push it and take it to the world. That will reduce the feeling of isolation in a small way.”

The Open Letter campaign has garnered more than 15 million views. The microsite Postbox and Lockdown Manual receive more than 4,500 and 4,800 page views every day, respectively. The Open letter campaign is also amplified through influencers and on various Facebook Pages such as Laughing Colors and Buddybits.

For a lot of brands, this sudden focus on content marketing is a short-term play and they would move back to regular advertising once things start getting normal. But for Wakefit, Ramalingegowda said that content had been the core of the brand’s communication strategy ever since it began its marketing journey in 2017.

“I think a lot of big companies will still move back to advertising, but companies like us that do not have crores to burn on advertising will always focus on real value-added content. We, as a smaller company, have always focused on content rather than just ad. Advertising is still a tiny chunk of our marketing budget.”

He went on saying, “We don’t want to do transactional relationship-building with customers. We don’t want to do something that will disappear overnight. Looking at these things, we naturally gravitated towards content as it stays in people’s minds and adds value to them.”

On regular days, Wakefit creates content with brand integration, which brings the consumer to the website. But these days, there is only a logo presence and an endplate, which directs the consumers to microsites made for the lockdown period. The brand is currently not producing any content that is performance-linked. “Ultimately, we cannot forget the premise of why we are doing it and hard push the brand forward. We are doing it for value addition and hence we should stay in the background as a brand,” said Ramalingegowda.

It’s challenging to create content that stands out in the clutter these days. Consumers are bombarded with so much branded content that somewhere down, it is causing fatigue and they are becoming bored. But Ramalingegowda feels it’s not about content fatigue but more about the mediocre content fatigue that the consumers are facing.

He explained, “Whether it’s our content or some other brand’s content; if it’s not up to the mark in terms of creativity, production quality and thought process behind it, the content will die very quickly. You cannot push it even with lakhs and lakhs of money. When the brand thinks of good content and produces it with the right intention, quality picks up.”

Sandeep Balan

Balan said if insight is strong and the heart is in the right place, the content looks a lot more genuine. “The only challenges that come with lockdown are remote direction and production. You have to depend a lot on the actors and the handset they use and the spaces they live in. You expect the actors to have the right props suitable for the content. You need to trust the actors as you write the content, give it to them and wait for their take to come back.”

The brand is not much a believer of utilising influencers to post content about the brand. Balan said, “Influencer marketing somewhere looks like planted. I have always believed that if the content resonates well with the users, people become your media. That’s the best way of influencer marketing, where common people share videos in family groups.”

Ramalingegowda added, “We rather use an influencer to do a workshop and create a film that will add value to people’s lives. Just because it’s a buzzword, we don’t do it.”

Many startups with massive funding have this urge of doing large-scale big-budget campaigns on TV, OOH, print and others. Wasn’t all this not tempting enough for the Wakefit founders?

Ramalingegowda laughed it off. “Actually this is my third startup. I have worked with two funded startups. I have seen companies where hundreds of crores of money are blown up within 6-9 months. That really doesn’t excite us at all. Both Ankit (Garg, the second Co-Founder) and I are failed entrepreneurs in the past. He had one startup; I had two. So, seeing our brand on TV and hoarding doesn’t excite us at all.”