#SocialThrowback2020: Part II – As the Infinity War raged A&M Industry battled COVID-19


As a part of our #SocialThrowback2020 series, Social Samosa recaps the state of the advertising & marketing industry in 2020 with the impact of COVID-19, by adapting a theme as dramatic and chaotic as the year was. Read on as we refashion the soul-stirring string of events in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Part I Continues…

Thanos was growing stronger in the mythical form of COVID-19 and had waged an Infinity War. Part II of Social Samosa’s ‘Avenge Advertising’ series recounts the state of the industry, calibrating remote collaborations, and execution of campaigns, in the second phase of the pandemic.

Humans are social beings by nature, we live, strive, and thrive together. Quarantine was not easy, living in isolation extracts a heavy toll, and the creativity in advertising was infected with immobility. But its darkest before the dawn, and…

The Sun Will Shine On Us Again

This phase marked the battle of creativity against the conflict in the Infinity War. Creative professionals were in a difficult frame of mind, the time when creative juices can’t flow past the four walls blocking them. Moreover, creativity and opportunism were a thin line apart, but brands were able to harness ingenuity in the face of the crisis, and the sun was shining on us again.

The lockdown opened the doors of the house of leisure, and brands were able to stay relevant during this period was by adding value to the consumers’ lives.

Social media activations became an integral element of brand communications. Consumers were engaged with DIY activities, productive pastimes, physical or mental activities, cooking recipes, art or photography play-offs, make-up tutorials, and more projects that pull them out of the pool depression.

Mercedes Benz called out all consumers to color their own Benz with the brand’s coloring templates such as Sir Sterling Moss in the 1955 Mille Miglia, C-Class, the AMG F1 race car, and many more. The best works and sketches were curated for a Facebook album. 

Mercedez Benz – #ColorYourBenz

Nykaa rolled out a series of videos that comprised make-up tutorials such as subliminal looks for video calls and basic outings, focussing on eye-makeup with the advent of masks, makeup hygiene hacks, and more.

The Classic Kay Look Ft. Katrina Kaif – Nykaa

Cooking was also an activity humans were finding solace in. The Dalgona Coffee wave, banana bread break, that were on top of the feeds and inside the ring of most Stories kept topical trends alive.

Sweetish House Mafia made its way into users’ hearts through their stomachs by sharing simple recipes and a video series of cooking tutorials of desserts such as Fudge Brownies, the fad – Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, and more sweet courses.

#BakeWithSHM – Sweetish Hous Mafia

Several other brands from the Food sector such as restaurants, F&B brands, fast food chains, and more adopted the format of exhibiting cooking tutorials as campaigns.

Calorie-rich consumption and stress eating was observed to be a prevalent behavioral pattern, coupled with the sedentary nature of the lockdown, staying fit became increasingly difficult. Several brands lent a purpose by releasing campaigns that integrated contests and virtual events involving indoor physical activities that users can participate in for a healthier time.

Workout From Home Ft. Malaika Arora – Reebok India

Along with enriching the consumers’ time, brands were also able to build an engaged community, by curating and exhibiting user-generated content, which is authentic and cost-effective for the brand. 

“Reality Is Often Disappointing”

Thanos used the reality stone to manipulate matters around the world, and disappointment was a feeling one would wake up to and go to sleep with. But brands harnessed the power of virtual reality and created a simulation within the screens that consumers could escape to, offering entertainment at home, and diminishing the disappointing reality.

Entertainment, Music, and News were the top three genres in terms of content consumption. While full-fledged production was at a halt, an artist’s house became a production house, with the distribution end being operated through remote collaborations.

BookMyShow, a brand that customarily relies on outdoor entertainment shifted its course and launched an online property called #LiveFromHQ, in association with and curated & produced by Big Bad Wolf Entertainment. The series of online events featured thirty-minute performances by several artists showcased live on social media platforms and performed at home.

#LiveFromHQ – BookMyShow

With no concerts and no clubs, social media Live became a way for music to stay alive. Budweiser India launched a series of virtual gigs called BUDXHOME, live events hosted by Budweiser India in association with Mixmag.

BUDXHOME – Budweiser India

Along with being a source of entertainment and a dose of music for consumers, the brand also donated an amount for every stream to the Indian Nightlife Collective, to support the nightlife industry workers that were at-risk financially and had taken a hit due to the pandemic.

With the forced shutdown of cinemas, OTT platforms experienced a rocketing boost, as distribution moved from theatres to these platforms and a majority of the content was released through digital channels.

Gulabo Sitabo was the first feature film to be released on OTT, Amazon Prime Video in this case. This was followed by a flood of releases on Netflix, Disney+Hotstar, and more. Series such as Paatal Lok, Mirzapur 2, Bulbbul, and Scam 1992, were a few of the most celebrated releases this year where many of these shows set into action meme fests and topical moments.

All major OTT platforms have reported a spike in viewership & subscriber base during the lockdown – Zee5 allegedly witnessed an 80 percent hike in subscription whereas ALTBalaji has had a 17,000 increase in new subscribers each day in lockdown.

The spike in viewership translated into a rise in OTT advertising. According to data by TAM, ad insertions on OTT platforms doubled in April 2020 over March 2020 (Platforms included – Eros Now, Zee5, Disney+Hotstar, MX Player, Sony Liv, YuppTV, VOOT, Viu). 

OTT-associated campaigns were executed in various creative formats, traversing the brand’s or the content’s space and connecting on common ground.

Vidya Balan was seen conveying the ‘G Maane… Genius’ of Shakuntala Devi for Parle-G.

Parle-G X Shakuntala Devi

Munna Tripathi and Guddu Pandit declared war through a video call on a Vivo phone, maintaining the mannerisms of the character and leveraging the hype around the story.

Vivo India X Mirzapur 2

Sometimes You Gotta Run, Before You Can Walk

Brands had not time to learn how to walk through the battlefield, the rapid changes in the state of marketing were moving faster than the brands on the learning curve. So they decided to run before they could walk.

The advertising industry outlasted the Infinity War and soon after the initial phase of battling COVID-19, campaigns shot at home and streamlined through remote collaborations were released.

Family, a short film featuring Amitabh Bachchan, Rajnikanth, Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Alia Bhatt, Diljit Dosanjh, and more, conceptualized and virtually directed by Prasoon Pandey hit the screens. Further, an initiative supported by Sony Pictures Networks India & Kalyan Jewellers was one of the first of this format to be released.

It is also one of the finely executed shot at home campaigns, with no distortions in between the transitions of the scenes, as all the actors had shot the parts from their homes.

Family – Sony Pictures Networks India & Kalyan Jewellers

Main Bhi Mumbai Police, conceptualized and executed by Lowe Lintas, with PR support and amplification by GolinOpinion, is another one such examples of in-home productions. In addition to the numerous efforts, Mumbai Police put out a strong message to urge its population of 18.4 million people to stay indoors as part of their #FilmFromHome initiative.

#MainBhiMumbaiPolice – Mumbai Police

The agency worked with citizens with no prior experience in acting, and the footage was shot by amateurs with their phone cameras. The film was launched on the Mumbai Police’s Twitter handle and steadily launched across their other social media handles as well. 

Sagar Kapoor, CCO, Lowe Lintas, had mentioned “Staying true to the spirit, the whole campaign has been created by staying at home. All partners connected digitally and executed the campaign from their respective homes”.

GolinOpinion extended their support to aid the campaign in garnering nation-wide mass visibility. They managed to get social media support from over thirty influential personalities from the Hindi film industry. Some prominent names included Kareena Kapoor Khan, Soha Ali Khan Pataudi, Sonakshi Sinha, Sonam Kapoor, and Anushka Sharma. 

“If We Can’t Protect The Earth, You Can Be Damn Sure We’ll Avenge It”

Advertising transformed from hardcore selling into being a part of the consumers’ lives. A part that they don’t want to skip, but rather look forward to.

From apprising consumers with productive activities to providing entertainment at the comfort of their home to communicating and amplifying preventive measures, the advertising industry did not protect the Earth, but it damn well sure avenged it.

In the concluding part of the ‘Avenge Advertising’ series, we turn the page to the period when the advertising industry had survived the storm, held ground in Infinity War, but were in the EndGame now

To Be Continued…