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Amarpreet Anand

At a time when most marketers are complaining about the lack of fresh content amid the Covid pandemic, a handful of them are engaging with audiences after having understood the changed consumer behaviour and preferences.

While it has been a real test for many creators and content marketers to keep churning out content on a regular basis, Amarpreet Anand, EVP and Portfolio Head, Diageo India, shared how the pandemic, in fact, presented the content world with a great opportunity to demonstrate their skills and capabilities.

Having witnessed a massive explosion in the content space, he said during this time there have been platforms that garnered great scale of engagement, shows that acquired a cult status and actors who have become really popular, even more than Bollywood celebrities.

“For the content world, this has been a great opportunity in terms of demonstrating their skills and capability. We, as a company, have been aware of this shift. And therefore we partnered actively with influencers, OTT platforms and performers, and some shows as well.”

For its brand McDowell’s No. 1, it partnered with Mirzapur (the thriller series on Amazon Prime) for the Holi campaign this year. It launched a new limited-edition pack #YaariKeRang to celebrate the festival. The cast of the series, including Divyenndu, Shweta Tripathi and Vijay Varma, came together to introduce an exciting way to celebrate the festival of colours with the help of technology.

Explaining how it was a great and successful collaboration, Anand said he is contemplating doing more with that partnership.

Similarly, it partnered with Omnicom Media Group’s Content Arm OMG Content to bring alive a unique content format and amplify Black & White Scotch Hipster, an innovative pocket-friendly pack. Leaning on Black & White’s ‘Made for Sharing’ concept, the story appeals to millennials’ way of celebrating casual moments spontaneously, even during the days when virtual hangouts have become the new normal.

Last year on Friendship Day, on the back of the growth and popularity of some of the content stars and influences, it brought back the iconic Friendship Day song ‘Ye No.1 Yaari hai’ with a virtual hug idea and song #TuMeraNo.1Yaar”. He said it garnered great love and reach because of the popularity of the influencers involved.

For this year Friendship’s Day, it launched a campaign that urged ‘yaars’ to take vaccine jabs.

Asked if the brand witnessed any sort of dearth in branded content opportunities amid the pandemic, he said, “Absolutely not from our perspective, because we think about branded content as not spraying and praying or partnering with the end number of things. Most of our brand partnerships are very strategic in nature and some of our brands have very iconic propositions and communication platforms. So I think when it comes to strategic partnerships, we have not had any challenges in terms of opportunities.”

On one of the long-standing partnerships with Rana Daggubati for ‘McDowell's No.1 Yaari with Rana’, he said there were minor issues in terms of delay in execution amid the pandemic. But eventually, it went live a few months back and has done well too.

“I would say we look for strategic partnerships and we were able to get them even in these challenging times. But there definitely were minor hiccups along the way for sure,'' he said.

The brand McDowell’s No. 1 for long has been associated with friendship or ‘yaari’ and rightly so, even consumers today relate the brand with the thought. This association, Anand said, has also helped the brand to stay relevant amid the crisis. 

“If you were to really think deeply about when you were logged inside the homes, sometimes vulnerable and sad, people have found ‘yaars’ in new faces, in their neighbours, their bosses, or within the family. So what we've sensed is the role of close relationships or ‘yaari’. Therefore, we've looked at that space and thought how do we thank some of these friends? How do we get people to recognise the value of these relationships? Because pre-Covid, nobody was really investing in those relationships. But I think the pandemic has given people a little bit of a pause, and a moment to reflect on what is important in their lives and who's helping them overcome these challenges. And ‘yaari’ really comes back to the centre of it. So our content strategy is absolutely based on getting people to recognise the value of the power of ‘yaari’,” he said.

The brand is again working on some ideas around the same insight, which will be visible in the next six months.

Overall, from a category growth perspective, the company has witnessed Mc Dowell’s No. 1 growing greater than 2x of the category.

Having seen people mostly consuming content on social media and digital, the company is aggressively spending on these mediums and plans to continue the same investment for this year as well.

“We have invested ahead of the curve across our focus brands this year. Last year, we moved a significant amount of money on digital and social media. So we expect that we will continue to invest in digital and social in an aggressive way this year too. We expect that during the festive season, some of the experience-led platforms might also be activated, if the Covid-19 situation doesn't escalate. Also, this year we have a fairly exciting cricket calendar and we're looking at it very closely to see what the best way of investing is,” he said.