Expert Opinion: Creative framework for brands to crack festive storytelling

Festive storytelling

Be it the Big Bazaar’s Paper Patakha or Vodafone’s #YourWordsNotForwards or Spotify’s festive ads, there is a fleet of emotions that get released during the festive season. Our creative experts decode the constructs of festive storytelling and what it takes to be a clutter breaker.

We get to witness many good stories in the form of campaigns during the festive season, however, a few leave a mark so strong that the campaign sticks with us for years. To deconstruct what goes behind good storytelling that works for both – brand and consumers during the festive season, Azazul Haque, CCO, Mullen Lintas, Vikram Pandey (Spiky) National Creative Director, Leo Burnett India, Rahul Mathew, CCO, DDB Mudra Group India get in a conversation to spill the beans.

Festive Campaigns – The Journey

From a campaign’s brief to its conceptualization to its execution, brands and agencies work in tandem to get the best out of it. Mathew laughs saying that he is now adapted to celebrating Diwali in one season so many times with various brands. For him, it’s very difficult to pick one but the brand that DDB Mudra has worked on the most is Big Bazaar.

He says, “It is very important for the brand to be a part of the cultural fabric. These campaigns have an impact on your business in some form and for Big Bazaar it’s a direct consumption occasion. It’s always tricky when we create work for the festive season because  ‘sab phatakhe eksath fodte hain na” So the visibiity matters.”

As soon as the calendar hits June-July, agencies start to get festive briefs. “Some campaigns remain on top of your mind,” Pandey shares.  

Music plays an important role during festivities but Leo Burnet did a quirky and fun take on it. He adds, “But an absolutely tedha campaign which we did was for a brand called Gagan Oil. In 2017, when firecrackers were banned and within three days we executed a very low-cost reactive campaign where we sold food as phatakas.”

Haque and his team at Mullen Lintas worked for YES Bank last year and the interesting thing about the campaign, according to Haque, was wherein all other brands spoke about spending, YES Bank talked about funding.

“It was an emotional film shot in a span of 4 days. The campaign ‘Zimmedari Se Taiyari’ was just not about you, but festivals and about many people. It was also my first Diwali campaign which I attended on the zoom of which the experience wasn’t that great. Because during this period we want to be on set with all that noise and fervor,” he notes.

Also Read: Expert Opinion: Building Brand Legacy through Festive Marketing

Creating Clutter Breaking Festive Campaigns

During the festive season, a lot of common themes in terms of campaign narratives emerge. A lot of duplication happens because brands and agencies have access to similar consumer data, It becomes challenging to bring in differentiation or create a clutter-breaking campaign. From a storytelling perspective, how do we bring in that differentiation?  

According to Mathew, in any project, we should ask why are we saying this before what are we saying. That’s when the differentiation starts because people feel the pressure that ‘Diwali ke time kuch toh bolna chaiye’ and then we all start digging into the same bag.

He adds, “Hence, we see the same theme around inviting neighbors, same bhaichaara, helping less privileged start becoming the narrative. And it becomes almost like a wallpaper. Here is when one should thing what is the differentiation that we are creating by saying this at this point of time and how are we going to say it.”

Meanwhile, Pandey quips that If you are able to find a brand narrative that is slightly different and distinct then you can own that point. He shares, “When you celebrate festivals or Diwali, it fuels the economy. The minute you start spending or buying it all comes back to you. The whole campaign of HDFC we are working on is called ‘Tyohar Manao, Tyohar Badhao’. It’s almost like when you do something, it travels and then circles back to you. And it’s quite valid of this year.”

Sharing the brand’s perspective for creative storytelling, Haque observes that brands become very cautious during the festive season since it involves varied things – culture, a bit of religion, also the reason why we don’t see experimentation or anything new.

He also feels that somehow even the advertising people have also become “lazy and aren’t doing the best that we should do.”

“For me, advertising around Diwali looks like one of Ekta Kapoor’s daily soaps. I hope somebody does a different thing. Like for Amazon sometime back, we created a band. At least that was something interesting that we tried,” he says.  

However, Haque opines there is a lot of scope here and advertising agencies and brands need to rethink. their festive communication strategy.

In conclusion, the experts agreed that brands need to have their objective in place which would define why they create a certain communication. The trio opined that brands and agencies need to ask questions that are worth asking and sensible to the brand.

The speakers shared their views at the Social Samosa Presents Festive Marketing Week 2021: Day 2.

Watch the full session here: