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Ashwin Padmanabhan

Content now plays an important role in the way brands engage with consumers. A lot of brands first connect with consumers through content that triggers emotions and eventually gets noticed, according to Ashwin Padmanabhan, President - Investments, Trading, and Partnerships, GroupM – India.

“Marketers today recognise the fact that when you create content, it first needs to connect with the consumer as a piece of content which triggers emotions. That shift is huge, because today you see a lot of brands creating content where people love it for the content that is being created and then notice the brand. The brand subliminally sits at the back of the minds. It doesn’t scream brand and that is the big shift,” said Padmanabhan.

Padmanabhan spoke to on the back of the launch of ‘Jai Ho! Bharat Ki Anant Yatra’ - GroupM's Motion Content Group’s new IP in partnership with Google and Meta. 

The show is a tribute to the contribution that the Indian civilisation has made to the world and it takes viewers on a journey through India's past, present, and future.

He emphasises that brands need to start thinking of branded content not as a long-format TVC but as the way one would create a show. 

“The kind of resources they work with will require more efforts and preparation beyond just creating TVCs,” he said. 

He also shared that branded content must remain true to their core philosophy as content then remains for the long-term. “As far as possible, branded content should be about what the brand stands for. So that, even with time it continues to stay relevant and speak for the brand,” he added. 

Talking about how media planning has changed due to content marketing and digital advertising today, he said, brands are looking at content to make genuine connections with the audience and not just make it about themselves.

Padmanabhan further said that media planning has now become more complicated because of the rise of digital mediums and content. 

“Media planning has become tough - especially when you start bringing content into it. However, we have a very successful example of shows like ‘Sunehri Soch’ that we did for Muthoot Finance. The first season was narrated by Amitabh Bachchan who spoke about people who have transformed businesses with little capital. The second season was narrated by Madhuri Dixit. Both these seasons led to 500% growth in the business of the brand and more importantly, we used a traditional medium like radio to narrate the story.” 

He said today media planning needs to look at business metrics as TVCs and content work very differently.

“I think media planning as a whole has evolved beyond the nuances of GRP-based planning. There is a lot of understanding of what works as a platform for what kind of content. The shift in media planning is happening because of data, which allows you to create plans. Earlier we had very few choices with media, but now on digital itself there are 10 different formats like short videos, OTT, YouTube etc and each of them works very differently. So while it is getting complicated, it is also getting more effective,” he explained. 

Jai Ho! Bharat Ki Anant Yatra

"Jai Ho! Bharat Ki Anant Yatra" will feature some of the most influential and accomplished leaders from various fields in India, who are the baton holders of the country's culture and heritage. The show will comprise three episodes for a duration of one hour each. 

It will be aired on Zee TV SD, Zee TV HD, Zee Cinema HD, & TV, Zee News, Hindustan and can also be streamed on Google and Meta's platforms.

The series features subject matter experts, historians, academicians, scientists as well as titans of Indian Industry such as Professor Yashwant Gupta, Centre for Radio Astrophysics; Dr Pratap C Reddy, Apollo Hospitals; Baba Ramdev, Yog Guru; Acharya Balkrishna, Patanjali; Professor Sunaina Singh, Nalanda University; Anil Shastri, Senior Leader of Indian National Congress; RS Sodhi, Former  Managing Director, Amul; Prof V Ramgopal Rao, IIT Delhi; Professor Aral D Souza, IIM – Ahmedabad ; Dr Anil Bharadwaj, ISRO; Dr Subhash Chandra – Zee;  Edward Luke-Financial Times; Sangeeta Gupta-Nasscom;  Dileep Sanghvi-Sun Pharma ; G Ashok Kumar-National Water Mission on Stepwells; Salvador Lyngdoh- scientist on living root bridges; Deepinder Goyal- Zomato; Ruma Devi-rural entrepreneur; Motilal Oswal – Motilal Oswal Financial Services, Abhishek Singh, CEO, Digital India; Vikram Singh Bedi – MD Google Cloud India.

The show is narrated by Sharad Kelkar and scripted by Prasoon Joshi.

Talking about what the objective of the content is with Google and Meta investing in it, he said, “The idea of the show came through to tell the story of India in a manner that has not been told before. Also to tell the story of India for a lot of youngsters who may not be aware of the history and contribution of India.” 

“Meta and Google both believe in the story of India and India as a market. They get a lot of their audience and business prospects in India. India is already a top market for them from an audience perspective. Hence, Jai Ho is not only about history but also the future of India,” he explained. 

Motion Content Group’s growth plans

Padmanabhan further spoke about Motion Content Group’s plans. He said, “Motion Content Group has big plans. 2023 is going to be an inflection point for it because not only are we going to do what we always do well like launch web shows, but also launch movies.” 

On Monday, the Group facilitated the launch of Coke Studio Tamil along with the Coca-Cola team in Chennai. “It is the first-ever Coke Studio in any regional Indian language and is going to drop eight songs in the next six months with stalwarts of Tamil music contributing to it,” added Padmanabhan. 

Like every year, the Group will be holding the critic's choice awards in March. The Group also has Marathi, Tamil and Hindi feature films in the pipeline.