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Derived from the Arabic word “mawsim” meaning “season”, Monsoon is simply a seasonal wind associated predominantly with the rains that come along. However, the Monsoon in India is crucial not only to the Indian way of life but its very sustenance. 

Despite considerable technological innovations and practices, more than 50% of arable land in India still depends on monsoons for irrigation. So, its arrival is a joyous time in India as witnessed through various folk songs and regional festivals such as Teej and Onam. 

As per environmental historian Mahesh Rangarajan, historically the Monsoon was a time of peace since it prevented armies from marching. Outbreaks of disease and other logistical challenges anyway made life in camps difficult. By the Monsoon, fields were sown and ready to be irrigated. Therefore, rainy days might have had an element of idleness to them. There’s reason to believe that the very same element has been retained in modern times too albeit to a much-reduced degree. Case in point: 

Kerala Monsoon Vibes | The Beauty of Kerala Rains | Kerala Tales | Kerala Tourism

As we previously discussed in our article on Kerala Tourism, rain here signifies a break from the monotony of everyday life. There is a move towards rest and revival of senses and emotions left usually on the back burner. Rain is the dramatic point of release. 

From the ancient epics such as Kalidas’ ‘Meghadūta’ to the monochrome Bollywood duets of the 50s, from the subtle songs picturised on Bombay’s iconic Marine drive to the sizzling number of the 90s – the Monsoon has been mystified and romanticised to no end in literature and popular culture. Consider, for instance, the climax of Wake Up Sid (2009) where rain is not only a plot point throughout the movie but also a culmination of nostalgia and unrealised feelings in the end: 

Wake up Sid

The popular imagery of the Monsoon encapsulates a number of feelings as well as emotions – love, rest, relaxation, nostalgia, celebration, etc. Do we find it translated in a similar fashion when we think of branded content and brand communication? Let's find out. 

Seasonality – change or rather cyclical change is a seminal part of the Indian landscape whether cultural or physical. And Monsoon is the most prominent flagbearer of this seasonality. Several products form a nexus with the Monsoon for effective marketing– products or categories like beverages, food, antiseptic solutions, mosquito repellants, paints, tourism, etc. The template is simple: Beverages including a hot cup of tea or coffee and food including hot pakoras or other snacks are insertions that enhance the Monsoon as a period of rest and break. They help one to enjoy the season in a better manner: 

On the other side of the spectrum lies the categories of paint, antiseptic liquids, and repellants. These position the Monsoon as a challenge that can be survived with their help:

Despite the extensive cultural repository of images and emotions associated with the Monsoon over the centuries, we find that it is reduced to a perfunctory role within the marketing and advertising narratives. Mostly, it is just stock footage of water running down a glass pane. 

A single-minded focus on the product separates the popular imagery of Monsoon and places it within strictly utilitarian values. Monsoon peaks from the sidelines as the product occupies the centre stage. That is not to say that the product can be relegated to the backseat but the Monsoon can be picturised as the exclusive element– the enhancer instead of vice-versa. Branded content provides us with a few examples. 

More often than not, Tourism leverages Monsoon for its power of transforming destinations as we already saw in the Kerala Tourism video. The scale of relaxation or enjoyment obviously changes as the idea in a tourism video is to go out, and change one’s surroundings to relax while experiencing a different culture and heritage. An influencer-based tourism campaign on Monsoon destinations by Madhya Pradesh Tourism shows how: 

Another set of interesting brand content videos can be seen on a regular basis by Paperboat – a brand named after a symbol of Monsoon itself! In this case, then, Monsoon is not just an opportunity for marketing. It is a major part of the brand ethos and messaging, so it is only logical that they evoke Monsoon with great enthusiasm and reminiscence. For Paperboat, Monsoon is a period that was enjoyed holistically when one was young and carefree: 

While branded content does better than advertising when it comes to the picturisation of the Monsoon, it is far from adequate. A considerable portion of the Indian imagination is occupied by the Monsoon. It is replete with memories both personal and from popular culture. Considering that, the potential power of Monsoon remains to be harnessed by brands. 

Brands can with little effort go beyond the stock images of hot pakoras and water splattering on windows. Since the Monsoon is a thoroughly animated period of the year, one may tap into elements such as sound and fragrance. Even from a utilitarian point of view, focusing on personal memories and anecdotes can enhance the brand appeal. Avenues to experiment with rains and the Monsoon remain wide open for brands as innovation in the field has largely been stagnant.