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Shaun Nanjappa Chendira

Having partnered with a variety of small and large brands, infotainment channel Discovery has been pushing the boundaries on the content front while co-branding the enriching experiences from the world of travel, food and much more. caught up with Shaun Nanjappa Chendira, Head of Advertising Sales, South Asia, Discovery Inc, to know how the media company overcame the challenge of constantly delivering fresh branded content amid the pandemic on both digital and television.

“Our focus on branded content is continuing to accelerate as it works very well for us. It's actually grown three-fold between pre-pandemic (2019) times and now. Marketers also have started seeing the benefit of branded content over just having brand visibility,” he said.

With the branded content space growing even more amid the pandemic, he said the medium helped mitigate the loss of traditional brand visibility campaigns for the channel.

“The co-branded content space overall has not seen any de-growth amid the pandemic. Advertisers who've seen the value of what such a contact brings to the table have very clearly decided to do more of it. Simply put, earlier if we had a single brand active in a particular category, today we have three-four of such brands active in that category for branded content. Our push in that particular direction is actually considerable. We as a brand inspire curiosity and, hence, the opportunity to partner with the right set of brands has actually grown. We see more and more brands wanting to align themselves and work closely with us to grow their businesses,” he said.

In terms of categories, he said FMCG, auto, telecom and mobile handsets have been closely working with the company both from an advertising and branded content perspective. This is because the need of the hour for the brands is not just visibility but deeper engagement with consumers, which branded content brings out beautifully.

Asked why some brands fail while co-branding content, he said mostly the herd mentality is behind the failure.

“There is a herd mentality. This whole notion of saying that if something worked at one particular point of time, it will continue to work. But we don't really live in that world. Today, disruption is very much a norm in anything and everything that we do. Marketers who spot this early on and adapt in this particular phase are the ones who are actually very successful,” he said.

He mentioned how a lot of start-ups today are successfully creating branded content while staying relevant to customers.

One of Chendira’s personal favourites, the ‘Discovery School Super League’ with Byju’S, he said, is unmatched in the industry. The brand produced this piece virtually amid the pandemic.

“It is one of the most complex projects to execute as well. We reached out to more than 35,000 schools for the engagement programme, which involves children, school teachers and parents who are very hard to please. You have to closely work with them and make sure their interests are managed very well. This project is actually ROI-driven for the client. So we are contributing in the growth of the tech industry by adding more and more followers to their base. This is a very ROI-driven model. It was a new model that we have decided to address and it worked very well for us,” he said.

And how does one define successful branded content?

Chendira said branded content is successful when a client wants to move further with you.

“While there are metrics of reach, engagement, ratings on the channel, I think the minute we are clear that a client has had a very good experience, he's vocal about it, and wants to actually work very closely with us again, it is apparent to us that it has actually gone down very well. And we've seen this with the work that we actually do. We see a lot of smaller brands that work with us very closely, year on year. We become the first port of call for them as most of their brief first comes to us,” he said.

The channel has done multiple branded content campaigns for brands such as Hyundai, Kia Motors, Oppo, which continue to associate with it.