Mumbai: The third edition of Indian Digital Brand Fest 2023 had brands, advertisers, and tech platforms, to discuss the trends and more. The summit also looked at the latest trends driving the change in consumer behaviour and how it has impacted the industry’s growth.
Whether it was a boom in influencer marketing or the popularity of short video platforms, brands did not hesitate to jump onto the digital bandwagon to up their marketing game. So Indiantelevision.com took this opportunity to bring a host of industry experts together under one roof to discuss all these new trends shaping the future.
The speakers of this fireside chat were Cipla director & senior marketing head - consumer marketing Amit Patel and Pocket Aces co-founder & CEO Aditi Shrivastava.
Shrivastava began the conversation by saying, “These two words impact and content, they’re very dear to me because they bring together the last 12 years of my career working in the impact space and now working in content. For you, it’s been a really incredible marketing journey, from FMCG to pharma. So, today we’d love to talk about how you also made that journey in your career and what are the big differences that you see in, something like FMCG and marketing, something which is highly regulated like pharma.”
Terming it as a very good question, Patel replied, ”I have been in the industry for last 15 years and one thing that has remained constant is my focus on creating robust content pieces. I believe as human beings, our prime objective to exist is story. Storytelling is one of the most important areas and last 15 years I’ve got various chances across various brands, across various countries to explore this art. Prior to working in the current organisation, I was associated specifically with Dabur International and there were many instances that I faced. Making content for the US market versus making content for a Middle East market or southeastern market, I believe that it’s the cultural nuances that change, consumers remain the same everywhere. If the content is timeless and geography less, it stays for years to come. We’ve seen examples of it right from Lay’s to Loreals of the world, P&Gs of the world, these have set certain boundaries around the content and it is working out for them. However I believe as marketers are moving into newer industries, and when I talk about my current industry, I’ve to give a disclaimer that views are my own because it’s a highly regulated industry. This doesn’t represent the views of my organisation.”
He further added, “In a pharmaceutical company, the storytelling element kind of takes a back seat and it's really important to reinvent that to ensure that you are bringing patients stories, you are bringing doctors stories out there, that what kind of change a particular therapy area or change a particular approach has in the life of patients. It’s very critical to keep on reinventing yourself, and that is what we’ve been doing through and through. As a pharma company, we run one of the largest marketing campaigns in the country and this has been going on since the last five years. The campaign essentially aims around creating awareness about the right treatments for Ashtma which is a deep-rooted problem in the country. Now there are two ways to go about it. We can do the traditional doctor-level marketing which every other pharma company does or can we break the mould, can we go beyond that, can we go beyond the pill and that is where we are innovating and partnering with storytellers like you.”
Talking about Pocket Aces’ first video with Cipla being released on FilterCopy, and Cipla’s previous work on doing anthems and songs and associating with influencers, Shirivastava then asked him, ”So walk us through how in a pharma industry, legal and medical teams are sitting at the main table and marketing is behind them. How have you convinced your teams, your HQ to take this plunge and how have you shown them the ROI it will deliver?”
Patel answered it saying, ”What we’ve been doing so far is we don’t call it marketing campaigns. The right way to put it would be - public awareness initiatives because here we are talking about lives and how we impact the lives of people. So this public awareness initiative doesn’t talk about any product. To distinguish between FMCG marketing and pharma marketing I would say pharma is more purpose-driven and FMCG is more profit-driven. So purpose-driven marketing is something that we started we realised that it is not the patient who is affected. Like in our country, everyone becomes a doctor as soon as you fall sick and the actual doctor takes a back seat. So it is very important to convince everyone in the room and not just the patient on what is right treatment or what is the right therapy area around that. Specifically when there is a disease as common as asthma, which is one of the leading causes of death in India unfortunately. So we created a campaign that tells people and asthmatics that you can live an unstoppable live even with asthma, what are the right ways to deal with asthma. We had done one of the largest patient support programs in Asia and every year we reach almost 38 lac patients one on one. On top of that, we have been working with a lot of Bollywood celebrities in the last five years wherein they helped in spreading the message. There is still some sort of stigma connected to it and the campaign that we embark, there is a very strange kind of challenge I would say and to describe the challenge in one sentence - the fear of stigma is more than the fear of disease. That is a very tricky problem to have. The only way to bulldoze that or make sure people are going for the right treatment is to go for large-scale consumer marketing campaigns as we do right now. There are a lot of elements that we have explored over the years. We also reinvented ourselves from TV to radio and right now the campaigns stays on digital channels. We have been constantly innovating with our storytelling approach. Earlier the focus was push. We’re doing a lot of ads but then we realised as consumers, how many times am I clicking on an ad? Or are ads getting as effective as they used to be? I believe the golden age of advertising is not here anymore. So it’s very important to take and park it into the journey where the consumer is going. So internally we have a map, which is something we call as micro-moments that cumulatively decide how the consumer journey is going to end and that’s how contextually relevant we want to be. That’s why storytelling is really important for us, alternate content formats become more relevant for u. We have been doing a lot of initiatives that come from music and we have a very beautiful song written by Amit Trivedi and Amitabh Bhattacharya, showing what is the real treatment for asthma in the country. Believe me, all these things coming from a pharma company taking the courage to go beyond the pill and that’s where we are heading.”
Moving on, Shrivastava spoke about Cipla monitoring the engagements very closely, i.e., what is the audience saying on the content and anything we put out and what can we take to put in the next video, etc.
Patel then added, “Being in a purpose-driven organisation and a purpose-driven environment, our metrics are generally different. It’s not the similar kind of metrics that you follow in a profit-led organisation because the awareness is largely done on therapy areas. We do have a Neilsen brand track, so over the years we have measured how the needle has moved in demolishing the myths, demolishing the stigmas associated with that. So all the metrics over the years is because of our communication and we’ve tried to break the myths. In the last five years, I would say the metrics that we measured with Neilsen data has gone down almost 30-40 points and that’s huge.”
Furthermore, Shrivastava asked Patel, ”What advice do you have for brand markets in general when it comes to highly regulated industries like for example mutual funds? Their approach has also changed quite a bit over the years. You’ve done a lot of content with them a few years ago and now their specifically saying - ‘Oh we can’t have celebrities in the content, we can't do XYZ things. So what is your advice for how to innovate regulated industries?”
Patel then said, “So as you rightly mentioned the regulated industry marketing is no longer the star of the room. We somehow sit in the room and compliance, legal and all these departments become the force to deal with. Every time there is a new communication, you’ll have to take ten thousand approvals even if it is as simple as putting out a social media post. In industries like mutual fund, I would say we kind of understand the pain that they have because the adoption of mutual funds is similar to the adoption of inhalers in the country. Though I cannot compare both of them together but generally that’s how both of them move together. In these industries it is very important, first of all, to understand what is your position in the industry. For example, if you’re doing consumer-level marketing in a regulated industry and if you’re not a category leader then I would say you need to have a laterneck approach. You can only take these steps if you have the courage, might, and capacity to execute campaigns like these. And if the onus is on you to make sure that the category grows. If you’re a challenger brand in this situation. I would very much recommend going with direct marketing. Sit directly with the stakeholders and convince them instead of investing a lot of money in creating large-scale campaigns. The benefit will go to the leader brand. It won’t go to the challenger brand. So unless you are a leader in the category, it is strongly advisable to go a direct marketing approach. Market shaping and changing the psychology of consumers is not easy as it looks and that is a true litmus test for any market leader to take that up.”
Concluding the session, Shrivastava asked, ”What is Patel’s biggest pet peeve when it comes to marketing” but Patel then went on to ask the same question to her.
To which, Shrivastava replied saying, “My biggest pet peeve has to be when people don’t respect the intelligence of the audience. Today’s audience is extremely discerning. They understand subtlety. We do content, so we know. Viewers understand everything from humor, drama, sarcasm, everything. So I think the beauty of storytelling is that you should be able to show regular use cases in the lives of consumers and how your brand beautifully fits in that life.”
After that Patel said, ”My biggest pet peeve is deceptive advertising and a lot of marketers get into that. Using claims that your product won’t be able to deliver. This is not just deception at your level, you’re not true to yourself but to the markets.”