Mumbai: The television marketing arena was not prepared for the sudden colossal shift that the pandemic ushered in 2020. Marketeers were compelled to unlearn everything they thought they knew until then and adopt new tactics of engagement with viewers who were nestled at home. As soon as the new patterns of interactivity began to settle in, the pandemic receded, and the television industry swiftly started recovering from its impact. The one bright spot in an otherwise difficult period was the enormous demand for entertainment, even in dire straits. As people seek more entertainment at home and in-person events are being revived, digital media engagement has strengthened, with Hindi general entertainment channels (GECs) aligning constantly with time. What has worked is that marketeers have created a universe that connects across cultures and makes for conversation in the public domain. There were several trends that ruled the roost in marketing. Let’s look at some of the trends that stood out in 2022:
The marvel of the metaverse
Creating a 3D, immersive digital world where people interact with one another has been all the rage in the marketing arena. Metaverse-driven campaigns have taken centre stage in 2022 and prepared the entertainment sector for the next age of interactivity. In fact, as a brand that is known for taking an innovative approach to campaigns, Colors was the first in the Hindi GEC space to harness the full might of the metaverse for its dance reality show Dance Deewane Juniors. The channel’s campaign took the audience on a virtual tour of the grand metaverse pathway. Before stepping into the metaverse, the users could choose their avatar and experience the magnitude of the platform in a virtual format while participating in various activities. The metaverse was complete with a glitzy photo booth, game zone, dance masterclass, and behind-the-scenes tours. The viewers got an opportunity to groove with one of the judges of the show, Nora Fatehi, through augmented reality. She was seen teaching dance moves from her popular tracks to the participants, followed by a fun-filled dance battle between them. This incredible level of interactivity and engagement cranked up the pre-show buzz.
Owing to our innovative streak, this year Colors has been the only GEC to be showcased by Meta as one of the 'top reel trends of 2022' and torch bearers of innovation on their platforms.
Expanding horizons with an influencer squad
This year, we have noted the rise of an "influencer social squad," which essentially means going beyond leveraging influencers and engaging them to build a set of evangelists for your brand who live and breathe its ethos. While this trend picked up steam in 2022, we expect it to continue to stay. Such collaborations ensure authentic conversations that can happen between the brand and the influencer’s audience, allowing for better audience targeting. This strategy, coupled with engaging with micro-influencers, whose content packs a stronger punch owing to higher levels of engagement, is also essential and has been leveraged by multiple brands! Contrary to popular belief, these influencers have played a larger role in converting leads and spreading brand awareness while spurring conversations across the relevant target audience in ways they prefer. Putting this learning into action, we at Colors created a universe of content creators from different parts of the country, solely focusing on creating content for the channel. We are the only GEC with an army of influencers currently who put out about 5–6 pieces of content each month, promoting our shows and artists. So far, they have created over 200 content pieces, giving us over 75 million views.
Building brand loyalty
Every time we buy or consume something, we tend to repeat the patterns of the past, and that can be attributed to clever loyalty-building tactics by brands. Loyalty is essentially choosing one brand over the other consistently over its competitors. A loyalist is not swayed by price, availability, or comfort. It is the result of a brand consistently meeting and exceeding expectations. One example of a brand leveraging its loyalists is American rapper Travis Scott, who ensured a robust pre-buzz for his album Astroworld by selling its merchandise to his fans ahead of its release. Such was thewidespread acclaim of the album that it not only performed well commercially but also debuted atop the US Billboard 200. This unprecedented success right when the album was released gave him an edge over his competitors in the music industry. On our home turf, we at Colors adopted a novel way to harness our fan base through communities that have been created at the Golden Petal Club established across non-metropolitan cities such as Lucknow, Bhopal, etc. These members of the club become the spokespersons in their community, and they create buzz about our shows. Levelling with the challenge of the pandemic, we took the virtual mode for our interactions with these clubs. As soon as the covid-related restrictions were lifted, we connected with them on-ground again and adopted bigger and more innovative methods for promoting our shows.
Continuing to capitalise on viral trends
Capitalising on the current trends, whether they were photos, memes, or conversations that dominated the year, was very essential. Whether it was brands like Swiggy, Zomato, or Durex jumping in on innovative ways to congratulate Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor on their wedding or even wishing our team for the ICC T20 World Cup, quirky and short conversations have captivated audiences. However, capitalising on one such trend, Colors’ Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 10 launched a week-long campaign titled "Galaxy of Stars" with an image that claimed the discovery of a new galaxy of dancing stars titled #JDJ10. The cryptic picture piqued the curiosity of netizens, who came up with many interesting theories about the image. This campaign was inspired by Nasa’s widely circulated "deepest picture of the universe," seen through the James Webb space telescope. The channel rode on the momentum generated by the photograph to create an image of its very own galaxy, which it named the "Galaxy of Dancing Stars." While the image took the internet by storm, the channel ensured that netizens had their daily dose of mystery as snippets of information about these dancing stars were revealed through various sources. The show garnered immense awareness, and a part of its credit goes to its robust marketing machinery that captivated their attention.
The new dawn of artificial intelligence in marketing
The world of artificial intelligence (AI) has ushered in limitless opportunities to interact with target audiences through effective promotions. Going beyond gathering data-driven insights, brands have looked at integrating the power of AI into engaging with audiences. One simple but effective use of AI was creating personalised invitations for premieres of shows that allowed audiences to feel a deeper and stronger connection with the show or brand. It is one trend that will take the marketing realm by storm in the upcoming year.
Leveraging new-age technology for interactive on-ground events
Ever since the covid restrictions were lifted, it has given brands the opportunity to directly engage with audiences on the ground. However, viewers have evolved and now demand interactive and out-of-the-box on-ground activations. It has become essential to implement impactful campaigns while leveraging technologies that give the audience an experience rather than a simple activation. In the last year, on-ground marketing tactics have seen their share of innovation with digital hoardings and stunning anamorphic content. For example, Colors used an anamorphic 3-D display to promote its supernatural fantasy show Pishachini, and through it, the audience got an opportunity to see what it would be like to have an evil demon in public space and be introduced to its universe. For Dance Deewane Juniors, segments titled "Dance with Nora Fatehi" and "Live with Karan Kundrra" were activated, and the brand used augmented reality to give people a chance to groove and share the stage with Nora Fatehi and interact with Karan Kundrra live and virtually with the participants across cities. The experiences created at on-ground events were compelling enough for the target audience to step out of their homes and engage with the shows.
So, what can we expect in 2023?
Television will continue to earn the love and affection of audiences, especially as GECs deliver captivating shows with compelling narratives, and therefore some of the above-mentioned trends will remain pivotal in 2023. With the boom in digital influencer marketing, more regional content creators and influencers will come to the forefront, which is likely to bring a paradigm shift in the entertainment industry. As audiences continue to demand engaging and personalised content, we can expect to see an amalgamation of virtual reality, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, a surge in the number of micro-influencers, and innovative on-ground activations on the marketing front in the upcoming year.
The author of this article is Viacom18 head of marketing and digital, Hindi mass entertainment Sapangeet Rajwant.