AgencyCon 2020: Rana Barua on ‘Why being Meaningful & Relevant matters more than ever’

Rama Barua

In another un-missable keynote address at AgencyCon 2020, Havas Group’s Rana Barua shed light on the significance of being relevant and meaningful for brands to connect with the consumers.

Rana Barua, Group CEO at Havas Group, India took the live stage at AgencyCon 2020 to share his two bits on ‘Why being Meaningful and Relevant matters now more than ever’.  At a time where the future seems volatile, brands & marketers need to constantly evolve with the changing consumer behavior. Taking the conversation ahead, Barua shares his thoughts on why it is crucial to stay relevant and meaningful at this time.

While sharing some learnings from a PowerPoint presentation and group research during the session, Barua highlights that they are the points kept in mind by every individual of the Havas Group, which ultimately gets reflected in the work they do.

Culture and Advertising

The primary thing Barua spoke about culture and brand integration. He thinks that advertising and media agencies need to help brands engage more in culture and brands need to listen in and understand what’s creating conversations at the moment.  Meaningful content- Brands, relevance, culture are extremely critical

What does culture mean? It is one of the most complicated words in the English language and keeps changing. We say culture is a way of life of a particular group of people at a particular time. Brands must be a part of the cultural conversation if they want to remain relevant to consumers. 87% of consumers expect a brand presence in culture. To tell meaningful stories, it is important for brands to tap on culture and create content around it.

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“Producing meaningful content + Following culture = Formula to reach out to Gen Z. It is so important to pick up culture from each country, to get the essence of what people like in that particular country,” he opines.

Everything right from travel, cooking, economy, fashion, well being, theatre movies, lifestyle, gaming fit into the cultural context. Brands need to listen in and understand what’s creating conversations at the moment.

The best example he cited was Unilever’s Red Label ad created by Ogilvy which gets into the cultural conversations. To tap into the culture in a meaningful way brands have to be authentic Consumers are gravitating towards brands that they trust as brands are culture shapers. Brands need to promote more progressive values

The quest for meaningful content

90% of consumers expect brands to provide content. In these times half of the content is cluttering and meaningless. He further states that we live in a  world of content overload. It’s been a long time of being at home. People are looking for new things. New virtual communities are coming up. The world is changing.

Brands need to create relevant and authentic content to build real connections with people. For instance a certain kind of music integrated into the advertisement might sound powerful and meaningful for audiences. Making use of such proponents can help make a difference and develop meaningful conversations. What’s more important is that a project’s certain honesty needs to be transmitted to the user.

Staying relevant and meaningful with brand purpose

“The need for brands to have purpose has never been more important,” elucidates Barua. Even in a sector like tourism, the cause should be an extremely important relevance to guide them of the brand promise. 57% of consumers expect luxury watches and brands to inspire them. Physical distancing has put tremendous pressure on relationships. 

It is clearly shown that the brand sans purpose, meaning, and relevance are going to face difficult times. It is a trend. More consumers are resonating with brands that are transparent, authentic straightforward, and that they can trust.

“We have dropped over half of the brands in our lives and are existing just fine. They may become relevant later on, however, at this point, they aren’t significant. The inconvenient truth that we are facing today is most brands are meaningless,” he observes.

Investing in meaningful media build more meaningful brands.  How do brands become meaningful

1. Functional Benefits: Tech and Customer Service

2. Personal Benefit: Satisfaction of needs and wants

3. Collective Benefits: Stands for a cause and culture

Meaningful brands deliver better ROI. “The whole world has got shaken up where we are learning life in a newer way. We need to change and create stronger ties to culture for better KPIs”, Barua suggests.