Post Thumb

These days the internet is buzzing with memes around the SonyLiv show Shark Tank, its judges’ go-to dialogues, puns and comments on the show concept and content. A few of them are also targeted at upGrad’s (presenting sponsor for Shark Tank) brand integrations. 

For example, as part of the integration, after almost all the successful deals that are carried out on the show, the host comes in and hands over a free course from upGrad to the participant or the ‘pitcher’. There are a few more brand placements in the content of the show that the social media police couldn’t resist taking a dig at. 

Although, this type of brand integration isn’t new on TV. In fact, almost every brand that becomes a TV show sponsor does such brand placements. Some time ago, ‘Comedy Adda’ a show that aired on Star Plus, had Ranveer Singh and his guests continuously eating Bingo chips because the snack brand sponsored the show.

Some of the memes floating on the internet mocking upGrad brand integration in the show:

One school of thought says that at a time when tolerance for direct advertising is falling, brands must ensure not to go overboard with brand placements and integrations that affect the audience’s experience of consuming content. The other thought is that content is subjective. For someone, a brand integration might look overboard, while for the others it might not be the case. 

A brand spends crores of rupees on such big-scale content IPs and wants to make the most out of such associations.

Arjun Mohan

Therefore, caught up with Arjun Mohan, CEO - India, upGrad, to know his views on the reactions on social media to the Shark Tank brand integrations and if it has been able to deliver the desired ROI.

Mohan believes that the show is perfectly delivering on point with regards to the brand objective. He said, "The audience we are targeting on TV is also present online. A lot of their expression happens online after consuming content from multiple places. I will always measure the social media mentions as an impact of my advertising. As for the memes that are coming in, I only see them as the impact we are seeing in popular culture, how people are connecting with the brand and talking more about the brand" 

"The plan was to reach our target audience and integrate it in such a way that they notice it and that's exactly what's happening. The whole noise is around because they are able to relate to it,” Mohan added. 

BuzzInContent also spoke to experts from the brand world to talk about the art of doing balanced brand integration in shows. 

Bobby Pawar

According to Bobby Pawar, Chairman, Chief Creative Officer at Havas Group, the integrated ‘set’ should be subtle and not come out looking like a sell-out. “Inherently even when we use content marketing and influencers, we need to put it under the ambience of what the influencer or the show is about. You can’t let the ‘sell’ overpower everything. Keep it within the flow of the show and ensure it’s not too much, that is the balance you must seek. People are not watching the show for the integration, it must be entertaining as well.” 

Some of the brands that did not go overboard in placements and integration when they were show sponsors are from reality shows, like Bigg Boss and ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’. We see Mr Amitabh Bachchan transferring the prize money to contestants on Kaun Banega Crorepati through the IDFC bank app. Similarly, the ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi’ show often uses Mahindra SUVs for the stunts performed by participants. 

Lloyd Mathias

According to brand expert and former Marketing Head at HP Asia-Pacific, Lloyd Mathias, the integrations are supposed to be planned at the initial stage of content creation. “I think any brand that desires integration, whether it is with a movie or a piece of content, there should be a very seamless fit. It must come naturally and anything that seems off-the-script or forced will not sit well with the viewer.” 

Hansveen Kaur

Adding to what a good integration must include, Hansveen Kaur, Business Head at Momspresso said it is important to understand the brand, its core value, and the sensibility of the storyline of the show. “The communication must also have a great value for the user. If the audience is able to make use of that information and seamlessly integrate it into the content, that is a job well done.” 

She said big reality shows promise you bigger returns, and have a longer continuity period and the brand has to use this to its advantage but that doesn’t mean that they can overdo it. 

She further gave some examples of successful integrations like ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ that led to Tiffany necklaces becoming the rage. She also mentioned ‘Cast Away’, starring Tom Hanks, that integrated Fed Ex throughout the movie in a subtle yet notable way. 

Prashanth Challapalli

Prashanth Challapalli, CEO at Gravity Integrated said brands need to understand that the audience is anyway getting hammered with ads. “At the end of the day how much advertising can I watch in a day? Just because it is a show or even on social media don’t feel compelled to be talking all the time. At the end of the day, people don’t care about brands. They don’t start and end the day thinking about your brand. One of the best integrations was when Absolut Vodka integrated with Sex and The City. The brand gained so much traction from just one shot in the show. Sometimes that is all you need.”