Role of content marketing in the times of pandemic

( November 26, 2020 )

Content Jam 2020: Panel discussion on building a strong and a desirable brand through content marketing

The ongoing pandemic has brought about a sea of change in marketing. In the wake of this changed environment, exchange4media’s Content Jam 2020, held on November 25, explored the role that content marketing can play in building a strong brand. The theme of the event was ‘Digital Transformation through Content Transformation’.

A panel discussion was held on building a strong and a desirable brand through content marketing. The panel consisted of Amarpreet Singh, EVP & Portfolio Head (Diageo India) & Board of Director – Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB); Bhagyashree Navare, Associate Director and Category Head, Kurkure and Cheetos, PepsiCo; Krishnarao Buddha, Sr. Category Head, Parle Products; Nishant Kashikar, Country Manager-India and Gulf, Tourism Australia; Prachi Mohapatra, CMO, fbb, Future Group. The session was moderated by Naziya Alvi Rahman, Editor, exchange4media.

Rahman began the conversation with a question on the role of content marketing in a difficult year for marketers as the pandemic, which has inflicted grief and job loss, has caused stress among consumers leading to a shift in priorities and focus.

Krishnarao Buddha concurred upon the importance of content marketing as brands stuck to their business demands owing to which communication came later.

“There was a lot of ambiguity and confusion in March. The most important aspect to look upon was how to mobilise our business,” he said. He added that once the situation was under control, the focus shifted to connecting with the consumer. “Since shooting was not allowed, creating content in a traditional manner was not an option.”

According to Buddha, under normal circumstances, they would not have been bothered to do as much, but due to the pandemic, they were triggered to think and create content. He cited the example of collating footage from previous commercials stitched by the agency to drive home the message of staying home and staying safe.

Bhagyashree Navare stated that it is an important time to be relevant to consumer’s needs as the consumer expectations from brands have changed drastically.

“I recall a report globally and also in India. Nearly 85 per cent want brands to solve their problems and 80 per cent want them to solve society’s problems. Trust as a factor has gone much higher and is second only to price now,” Navare said.

She said building and maintaining brand trust is very essential at this point of time and it goes beyond building a brand for commercial purposes. “To build brands that speak to society and their needs, we realized that it was important to speak in a way which would establish a deeper connect with the consumers and is true to our core,” she added.

She cited the example of Lay’s and its Heartwork campaign. “Lay’s’ core purpose is to bring joy to people’s lives. This time we thought how we can bring joy to unsung heroes who work hard to bring us what we love while we stay at home,” she added. She also spoke of the collaboration with Smile Foundation to bring hygiene kits to farmers, truck drivers, and people who build our supply chain.

Navare elaborated upon how consumers pay attention to these actions and the importance of speaking to consumers in a meaningful and purposeful manner that is the core of building empathy, trust and a deeper bond with consumers.

Rahman then moved on to ask the panelists about standing out in a crowd when the content being peddled by most brands was laced with human touch and difficult to distinguish.

Kashikar spoke about the tourism category operating in the sea of sameness as everyone has the same beaches, mountains and wildlife.

“We launched a campaign called Restaurant Australia to give the world a chance to experience the culinary culture of Australia. It was inviting people to travel on their belly. Everybody has heard of Masterchef Australia and our association with that show has helped us to raise Australia’s profile as a great culinary destination and the food and wine capital of the world,” he said.

He said that they were able to show how warm and inviting Australians were and how multicultural the country was. Food influencers were also invited to travel to Australia and encouraged to produce content for the same.

He appreciated Byju’s work on its campaigns, especially the Young Genius one. They will scout young talents across the country and recognize them. He also highlighted work done by the brand to help parents and kids learn the implications of New Education Policy.

Amarpreet Singh stressed the need for going back to the basics.

“We look at three Cs from a content marketing perspective: core brand idea; culture; and commitment,” he said. He added the sense of sameness we see is because the cultural tsunami of COVID-19 has hit everybody.

“Knowing your core brand idea and being sharp around that helps in producing best content marketing. Content marketing is not a campaign, it is a commitment. You have to do it for a long period of time because the more you are consistent and the more integrated you are, the greater the ROI,” he said.

He gave the example of Mcdowell’s No. 1 and how it has consistently revolved around the themes of music and friendship. He said that one of the things the brand realized was that men are poor at expressing their feelings so you are not expressing their feelings due to social distancing. “We have a campaign encouraging people to call their friends and thanking them for being there,” he said.

In the end, Rahman asked the members on their views as to how content marketing helps in attaining desired ROI and meeting the objectives.

Prachi said that everyone is chasing an ROI. “Everyone’s budget is constrained at this point and are shrinking. What we have figured out is throwing content first for reach and then following up with smaller campaigns has really worked beautifully for us.”

She said it works for most brands and with a fantastic call to action in the second part, a good ROI is guaranteed. She added that content either has a brand objective or a conversion objective.

“At this point in time, most of us are looking at conversion, and keeping the engagement going is the second part. Every voice you launch into the space has an objective and ROI is a part. Either your brand is being searched more or having a share, conversion looks beautiful to all of us including the management,” concluded Mohapatra.