The Shift in the Creative Strategy: From TV to digital platforms, OTT, and social

Robert Godinho- CEO and Founder at WhiteBalance

Founder & CEO of WhiteBalance, an International Film Production Collective based in India, Robert Godinho, sheds light on how one-hour long TV shows are being broken up into double-digit ‘snackable’ pieces to match up with the binge-watching generation.

If there is one golden rule when it comes to advertising, it goes as by- Advertising is governed by its audience.

In the 80s and 90s –- before we fully accepted the lukewarm embrace of capitalism — the Indian consumer a.k.a. the middle class was still working very hard to attain the basics: a fridge, a scooter and, if one really wanted to get the neighbor’s banyan in a twist, a big bulky oh-so-ugly CRT TV.

The slogans of the time certainly hit the nail on its head with the devil exhorting us to buy an Onida TV with the tagline ‘Neighbour’s envy, owner’s pride’. Then there was Bajaj giving a mirror to middle-class aspirations in the form of ‘Hamara Bajaj’.

A couple of years down the line, with the middle class flying high on the wings of liberalism, came a huge influx of cash and as we all know- with great economic freedom comes great choice. The X-factor came into play here, with brands trying desperately hard to stand out from the crowd, taking the edgy and quirky route.

So, it really doesn’t come as a surprise that with 4G and 5G speeds, creative agencies feel the need to re-invent the game with newer mediums of consumption, heralded by a change in brand loyalty mindsets with no cookie-cutter route to a successful campaign.

Whilst digital slowly and painfully kills the TV star, advertisers are still looking to get the best bang for their buck, by straddling both TV and digital mediums in the fear of losing touch with either.

Statistics say that the human attention span is at an all-time low of 8 seconds. But far be it for me to use this platform as a soapbox to decry the faults of the millennial generation.

It’s no wonder that advertisers feel the need to go back to the drawing board and re-attune their wavelength to the demands of Gen Y and Z. With an average age of 24 in the office, we are a living, breathing sample set of our consumers, and I like to think we have our finger on the pulse of the market. The key takeaway from internal discussions, and looking at what has and hasn’t worked for us in the past in terms of content, is this:

That it’s not about the number of seconds that content should be framed to, it’s instead that the millennial is looking for content that they can connect to. (And binge upon)

As content partners to the participative sports reality events field, the Devil’s Circuit franchise, my creative team re-engineered the content landscape, replacing the traditional 6 one-hour TV episodes into a digital property with a series of over 50 digital videos created to engage and excite the viewer, garnering more than 25 million views.

While old school creatives may bemoan and cry at the end of an era, we’ve found that digital strategy actually allows us to spin traditional concepts on their head.

In TV, an established storyline is limited to formats or a certain kind of pace. Well-written digital content needs no beginning, middle or end, and it doesn’t need to fill an arbitrary time slot.

This new format of snackable content was formulated to engage and get sports enthusiasts hooked. With consumption patterns signaling a change, viewed while on the go, whilst waiting for (or during) a meeting, in the car and even on the morning throne! Crisp and engaging is the name of the game.

And that engagement comes through human stories. Instead of focusing only on the obstacle course and team performances, the content creation team introduced a human angle to the race, creating mini superheroes in the sports reality world.

From inside looks at the college teams to behind-the-scenes clips showcasing individual struggles, the strategy was to glorify dreams, make the participants have personas whilst showcasing their sporting talents on a national platform.

For Truecaller, we decided to spin the advertising concept in a similar way. Instead of doing digital films outlining the brand’s salient features, we took the social route of empowering women with a campaign #itsnotokay. 10 films featuring 10 different women and their stories of harassment over the phone in short videos allowing audiences to feel empathy and create a bond of engagement.

This has only been possible thanks to mediums like Voot, Hotstar, Amazon Prime and Netflix which paved the way for ‘watch whatever whenever wherever’- tuning the audience into this mode of consumption.

It’s simple Maths really. If brands can make a connection with four smaller but more engaging pieces of content every month, why spend more money in long 30-minute pieces that may or may not be watched until the end?

The march of the digital age is inevitable, and right now, it’s the ‘Wild Wild West’ when it comes to digital content. We’re hitching our horses to the wagon of short-form, snackable human(e) stories. And in my humble opinion, it’s time for brands to do the same.

This article is authored by Robert Godinho, Founder & CEO of WhiteBalance.