India's storytelling potential is underutilised on the global map: Aditya Mehendale

Sneha Medda
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Aditya Mehendale

Aditya shines a light on how digital marketing in the future will be more about the audience's experience than consumption and engagement in this brief conversation with Social Samosa.

In conversation with Social Samosa, Aditya Mehendale, National Creative Director, Schbang and jury member for Social Samosa SAMMIE BSMB 2022 talks about how in today's digital world, the medium is truly the message, and dynamic content is king.

Edited Excerpts:

How has digital marketing grown in the last few years and how do you see it evolving in the future?

At first digital tried to do what any mass media channel does, divert messaging from one to many, and while doing this in a targeted way at scale is still one of digital’s major appeals, the playground is now primarily about interaction with the next evolution quickly becoming about complete immersion. The digital marketing experience of the future will not be about consumption or engagement, it will be about making the audience the experience.

Any changing consumer behaviour patterns that you have seen off late?

It’s no secret that we now live in a creator economy. Creators are having their well-deserved moment. The flip side of this is that  Gen Z audiences are alienating brands for creators which should give any marketer a lot of pauses. While being inspired by the creator playbook is one way to go, brands may need to completely reinvent their purpose to steal back mindshare from the creators that they share platforms.

As per TAM AdEx, digital ad insertions have dropped by 13% during Jul-Sep ’22 over Jan-Mar’22. Do you think this is because of mounting inflation fears, or what has led to this drop?

In India, digital is always going to have to play alongside mainline channels. The pandemic saw marketing budgets skew more towards digital and while the digital ad spend pie has increased for most brands in the post-pandemic era, overall marketing allocations are starting to get corrected to reflect a better omnichannel strategy.

Earlier this year, Schbang launched its content production service - The global Content Hub. What new can be expected from this property in the coming year?

As a company, we pride ourselves in what we call ‘Everyday Creativity.’ In our early years, we showed exceptional displays of this in our static social content. The goal is to flex that further into video, photography, motion graphics, illustration, and stop motion.  The medium is truly the message, and in today’s reel,  shorts, and spotlight world, dynamic content is king.

What are some major obstacles the digital marketing space witnessed in the past year?

Looking back, this year will definitely be remembered as the year where one of the biggest digital marketing platforms turned “musky”, but all the uproar and major gaffes that came with it aside, it was also a year where digital christened a new future for itself. A massive network company rebranding itself after the metaverse last year continued to create ripples this year about where digital is headed. It’s easy to mistake novel executions for big ideas and with the metaverse, we’re seeing brands heedlessly copying the same few executions — the branded NFT, the pseudo-crypto currency, and the metaverse storefront. This is the naive phase, where the sheer mention of the technology can easily be mistaken for an idea. But soon enough, the novelty will subside, the metaverse will get boring — and then it’s our job to make it exciting again.

Schbang has been focusing on taking India to the world. How do you think India can mark its presence on the global map?

India is a land of storytellers and our storytelling potential is seriously underutilised on the global map. While it now fills us up with pride to see Indian games on credit lists of huge global entertainment titles. Advertising is yet to see this. India’s international wins are localised to work that happens in India. Our names are very rarely seen against global partners for work happening in their culture. We are here to change that.

Also Read: Future ad agencies would continue to have creativity at core: Vikas Chawla

What does the road map for Schbang look like in the coming year?

We will continue in our ‘India to the World’ mission, this year saw us open shop in London. The next year will see us have a presence in another exciting destination in Europe. We will also further our goal to produce top-end global craft. If our work for H&M’s #BrighterThanEver campaign this year is any indication, the execution finesse coming out of our stables should be worth watching. Lastly, we will bring the ‘Whole Schbang’ in the most ambitious, daring and bold way we ever have next year. The integrations between our services are going to be stronger than ever and you can expect to see a lot of powerful creative tech work from our feeds soon.

Lastly, what are you expecting from the nominees this year at SAMMIEs?

It’s been a very exciting year for digital and we are on the cusp of a lot of new things. I am hoping to see work that reflects this attitude and sits on the edge of a new transformative future.

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