Creating a brand requires a huge amount of effort and there is a mismatch between the amount of effort that a creator puts in creating a brand and the way it is received by the consumer, the gap is huge. The experience time for most FMCG products is not more than a minute. The ultimate challenge which a marketer faces is the generalizing of his product category, where his brand could be replaced by any other brand and consumers not taking note. This is where elements like animation and gaming help to extend the brand experience and make it unique.
The discussion on animation and gaming as a turbo power in branding at the NASSCOM Animation & Gaming Summit held on Nov 1 & 2 in Mumbai was moderated by Percept CEO Preet Bedi and panelists included Srilekha Agarwal from Quantum Market Research and Virgin Comics CEO Sharad Devarajan.
The session was an extremely interesting one, where presentations by each of the panelists as well as the moderator were full of exclusive insights and information that were a treat for the audience.
The primary target audience for animation is kids and for games are kids and the youth. Making a presentation that gave insights into how kids are major influencers in purchasing not only products meant for them, but overall, Quantum‘s Srilekha Agarwal pointed out that brands that used animated mascots and themes to extend brand experience stood to gain a lot. However this kind of leveraging has not happened much in India and there is a lot of potential that remains untapped.
Another point she added was that animation just for the sake of animation is not enough, the characters and mascots have to connect with the kids. For that one needs to delve deep into the psyche of the Indian audience.
In her presentation titled “Shifts in the Indian Consumer‘s Life Space & Circumstance’, Srilekha pointed out, “We are moving from a patriarchal to egalitarian society. Competitiveness is part of the overall psyche. There is a competitive ethos, which is prevalent from the time when the child is in the womb, the mother says my child should shine from womb to tomb. Similarly, kids want their mothers to be star moms. Careers, cultural patterns, rise in disposable incomes, all these add to the changing dynamics. Indians are into hyper parenting in a big way and there is tremendous power being conferred on kids. Parents want to be their kids best friends, they want to connect and the child is becoming the decision maker in the family.”
The more power with kids, the more power Animation & Games have as elements that can turbo power branding.
Making a reference to the umpteen successful game shows and media evolution, Srilekha pointed out that inhibition was giving way to exhibition. “The whole thing in India is about 15 minutes of fame. There is a sense of fearless confidence in kids today and quirks have become identifiers. It is the end of trends and fads rule.”
“There is choice in every aspect of life. The Indian kid has a tough balancing act, everything including, friends, family, studies, gadgets and personal time.”
While Srilekha focused on the Indian consumer, the presentation by Percept‘s Preet Bedi focused on Hanuman and how the brand would interact with consumers throughout the year even as the franchise releases one new sequel every 18 months.
“We will be launching in the market around 450 SKUs of different merchandise along with the release of Hanuman 2 in December. Half the cost of production will be recovered by L& M and the figures on the merchandise alone make it worthwhile having the brand all year round,” shared Preet, adding, “Hanuman will be alive through games, comic books, music, short films, merchandise, licensing, while the sequel feature film is in production. The approach will be round the year and will keep the brand alive.”
On being asked to elaborate on some of the products and categories related to the L&M program, Preet shared that at least 15 retail products including one large stationery brand will be launching the Hanuman range. Also on the cards are an Ice Cream range and also a Jewellery range, which would have an array of medallions (available online). Talks are on with major brands inboth the fields for the same.
He stated that the packaging and presentation design of each of these 450 SKUs was being controlled by Percept and that all designs had came in for approval, infact many of the designs were sent by Percept and the final draft were also approved.
Talking on the subject of using animated characters for brands, Preet remarked that, “Our environment is ideal for Animation and mascots. We are a culture that understands symbols, we love art, mythology, stories. We Indians love being loud. There is a need to create characters that can talk to audiences and build deeper brand experiences.”
Giving an example of the Amul mascot, which comments on everything from Cricket to Politics to scandals, Preet shared that â€?Animation gave agelessness to an Idea. However such examples are far and few in our country and the penetration of this concept is very poor in India. Some characters have been created but have not built into durable brands.”
Concluding his presentation, Preet shared, “Animated mascots can be exclusive to your brand and category unlike Stars or Cricketers who can endorse many products.”
Next, Virgin Comics CEO Sharad Devarajan spoke about how his company was approaching the obvious demand for Eastern content in the Western markets. He shared how his company took the core elements from the brand experience of Eastern philosophy and incorporated those into their stories and IP for the global market.
“We have IPs like Ramayan 3392 AD, Sadhu, Virulents, Seven Sounds…. these are all Asian themes, the core of each lies in the Eastern philosophy and mythology but the presentation and interpretation are unique and original,” shared Sharad.
“Most of our consumers will be reading about the Ramayana for the first time, itâ€™s a new visual universe that we have created. Similarly, Sadhu is the Indian spiritual warrior, the comic did very well and now we are working with Nicolas Cage for the movie. Two of our young team members from India wrote a story called Virulents, which is about Vampire Terrorists and Fox will be producing this as a film which rolls next year,” said Sharad, striking home the point, that it was all about identifying elements that were the core of a brand experience (In this case Eastern & Asian themes) and then creating content and new brands.
Pointing out that originality lies in the treatment and interpretation, Sharad pointed out that, “A lot of western characters too have their source in Western and judean mythology.”
“We are working on a major project with Priyanka Chopra to create a wonderwoman. This will be made into a game, animation, live action film and thereâ€™s another project with Sachin Tendulkar,” he added.
The mission is to create characters and content that spotlight Indian creativity and take it to the world.