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For content creators or brands in general, exploring a new content format comes with a certain kind of risk. As they continue to experiment with newer ideas to appeal to audiences, integration of brands in stand-up comedy has become a sought-after format.  However, the formula can’t be the same for every brand in this space. It is especially true for BFSI space, which is usually full of jargons.

Abhik Sanyal, Head, Consumer Marketing, DSP Investment Managers, told BuzzInContent.com that when it comes to any financial product integration in the stand-up comedy content format,  there is a certain responsibility for the brand and the comedian to address the problem in a very responsible and sensitive manner.

Recently, DSP Mutual Fund released its campaign #BreakTheBias with a 10-episode comedy series.

The video:

Aimed at making investors aware of deep-rooted beliefs and biases, the campaign encourages them to invest responsibly by talking to professional financial consultants.

Abhik Sanyal

Discussing the learnings that came up while exploring this format and launching it during the lockdown, Sanyal said, “A lot of learnings came up from this or focusing on stand-up comedy, specifically. A brand really needs to think of how seamless it can get. When people are watching stand-up comedy, they want to listen to the comedian and watch his particular delivery style and have a laugh. And every comedian has a very different delivery style and fan following. So, one has to be really careful about whether the brand's message is killing the delivery style of the comedian, whether it is burdening the content too much with whatever product it is. Because, at the end of the day, the comedian has to be about the comedy, observation or about the people and their problems that they are trying to talk about. Thus, brands are practically the least important part of the equation.”

And that is why, marketers need to realise that they really have to distance themselves from keeping the brand first. Even during the time when briefs are being given, it is very important for a meeting of the minds at the brainstorming stage. Otherwise, by the end of it all, the brand really will have something that is a mismatched end-product. A comedian should not end up becoming a brand endorser or else it will erode the credibility of both the comedian as well as the brand. Thus, seamless integration becomes much more important.

For BFSI brands, Sanyal said, there is a certain responsibility for the brand and the comedian to address the problem in a responsible and sensitive manner. The brand believes it is a very light and relevant domain with different comedians and plans to explore it further.

The campaign features comedian Karunesh Talwar and Jaspreet Singh and was released on TVF’s Timeliners’ channel on YouTube last month amid the lockdown.

As the brand was working on its concept for a while, with its videos and the content ready from the month of January, it faced no challenge in its production. But as the lockdown started, it started deliberating on the distribution part.

“We have been in touch with OTT players, digital publishers as well and gauging what people were doing at home during the lockdown. It is a good assumption to make that digital content consumption would have been rising anyway as people are at home. We found there is no barrier from the perspective of launching it. With the unprecedented situation, we checked whether the content was out of place, pushing the product, or carrying a theme that wasn't relevant, and realised the content was fairly timeless and not out of place. Plus, it was coming from the lens of stand-up comedians, who would have the ability to talk to the consumer in a manner in which they don't expect finance brands to talk to. So there was no risk involved,” he said.

On choosing TVF for its second campaign, Sanyal said when he started evaluating the distribution, he sensed the need of an authentic publisher.

“If you think of it from the consumer’s perspective, they look at any content being created by a brand with a fair amount of cynicism and scepticism. When it comes from a distribution partner or from a publisher, they realise that there's a certain stamp of authority from the publisher itself. We thought of TVF because we had earlier worked with them for Cubicles, and if you have faith in a group of people who can deliver results for you, it makes sense for you to at least try out a couple of other formats with them. So it was a fairly organic decision to go with them.”

He said that this model has not been done before where a brand has created content and then the content went to a digital platform. So there was actually benefit and experimentation for both sides.

Having launched Cubicles in the past with the same publisher, the brand had garnered close to two crore views across the five episodes with 20,000 comments and a like to dislike ratio of about 52:1.

Considering these are a good number for engagement and with qualitative research and quantitative research showing positive results for the brand in terms of consideration, the brand expects #BreakTheBias to have the same positive impact.

“We're in the middle of the campaign, and the results make me feel confident that we are largely in the positive direction,” said Sanyal.

As unprecedented times call for change in strategies and being a firm believer of content, the brand hasn’t changed its content strategy and is still on the path of thinking about the consumers first.

He said that unless there is a genuine consumer concern to address, the brand will rather choose to stay silent.

“Our content has always followed that kind of a strategy to solve the real problem that exists and not to just invent a problem for the sake of pushing the products. Right now, a brand can’t really be gimmicky, opportunistic and if one doesn’t have something relevant to show, it is better to stay quiet. So at this point of time, it's very, very important for brands to be very thoughtful, and be responsible about their communication. And even when they are trying to get engagement, they just have to keep empathy in their mind. They had to be in their consumer’s shoes and think about it from their perspective,” he added.

Many experts believe in increasing the frequency of content to continuously engage with the audiences in some way or the other during times like this. But Sanyal believes that a lot of brands would mistake the idea of content marketing as a frequency game.

“That's not really the case because people are getting more and more indifferent. Every brand is trying to talk to everybody so many times. So unless you have something important and relevant to say, you can't really communicate to people because people are looking at things from their perspective. And unless you can solve their problem, you are only creating more panic and noise in their life. If you can do this with relevance and with frequency, it's a great formula,” he added. 

He advised BFSI brands to stay away from jargons. There is no room for misperception. So that's like a further responsibility—to have sensible communication for BFSI brands.

Having already explored multiple kinds of content formats with Dancing Uncle Cubicles and #GoalDiggers with Vogue in the past, the brand believes in experimentation.

It is also thinking of doing content on the audio side.

Asked if it plans to explore podcast, he said, “Podcasts have been done for a long time but Indian audiences have still not fully warmed up to the audio format. These past few weeks have however set the ball rolling on the video podcast front and I'm observing a lot more interest in this space. I strongly believe that whether audio or video, there is room for disruption here.”

At this point of time, when everyone is being very careful about how budgets are being utilised, DSP Mutual Fund is trying to listen to what people's problems are, while spending a lot of time and engaging with its investors, distributors, scanning its social media, and doing primary research-oriented activities.

Content@BuzzInContent.com