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A pioneer in creating video content, United Breweries Group allocates 50% of its total digital spends in content marketing. The UB Group focuses a lot on creating video content in the form of short stories such as ‘Half Ticket’ and ‘Born Free’. Recently, the group’s independent media platform Ultra Shorts’ web series ‘Rise’ became the only Indian web series to be shortlisted for the Los Angeles Web Fest 2018 and was adjudged the second runner-up in the trailers category.

The video:

Sandeep Balan

Commenting on the win, Sandeep Balan, Head of Digital Marketing, UBL, said, “The topicality of the story has helped the web series perform well. It talks about rising after falling. This has motivated a lot of people who are facing such a crisis in their lives and helped us fetch good numbers on the content as well. People could relate to it.”

Rise is Shrey’s (played by Vikrant Massey) story. An average IT professional, faced with something he is not prepared for at all and on a day he least expected anything but adventure and thrill. But life has other plans for him. The story is about him discovering himself and knowing life is simply about keeping at it.

‘Rise’ was the brand’s first experiment in the web series format and after its success it will do more content in the same format.

Balan added, “Ultra Shorts is our focus right now and won’t dilute it too much by doing a lot of content. At the end of the day, we are a beer company and not in the business of creating content. Whatever we do needs to add back to the business. We can’t do a lot of trials.”

Apart from looking after digital marketing at the company, Balan also is an avid writer and storyteller. His interest in storytelling has led him to create a lot of video content in-house for the brand.

The brand runs an independent media platform ‘Ultra Shorts’ on YouTube under the channel name Cheers as part of its content marketing strategy, where it subtly integrates the brand into the story without diluting the content.

“The idea of Ultra Shorts is a web series format and aims to showcase real emotions in real people. People should look at videos and call the brand as their own. We don’t believe in product placements, but the brand should become almost a character in the story. We want to increase the purchase intent of the consumers.”

Generally, marketers’ urge to bring the brand to the forefront dilutes the quality of the content. But at UB Group, the philosophy is to keep the content on the front foot and subtly integrate the brand as part of the story. Balan said, “When we become marketers, we tend to forget that we are also consumers at the end of the day and push the brand in the content. We can do all our branding and sponsoring everywhere in content, but the consumer doesn’t care. We embed the brand in a very inclusive way and not force the brand into content.”

The success mantra of creating good content for Balan is to understand your audience well and to be genuine. “Your audience is very smart and you cannot cheat them. They are on digital by choice. The content has to be really interesting. You can’t begin with something funny and two years down the line start doing melodramatic kind of content.”

Balan also said that lack of good stories is one major challenge in the video content space. He said, “Everyone is trying to be on digital. A lot of people are trying to recreate the same thing on TV and push it down on digital. A lot of daily soaps are finding its way to the internet in the form of digital content.”