Are Indian brands ready for integrated offline & online campaigns?

Last month, during IPL, Pepsi ran an innovative poster campaign that converted tweets into posters; these posters were then telecast during the IPL matches

Campaigns such as this show the rising sophistication of Indian brands, which are going in for integrated campaigns going much beyond printing hashtags on invites and banners.

Leena Shoor, Marketing Manager – Maybelline - New York, India points out that, “The key to integrated campaigns is to conceptualise them truly as ‘Integrated’ campaigns, and not to create a TVC and then take it on ‘Digital’, and call it an integrated campaign. The idea has to be created keeping multiple media in mind, to ensure it carries well across all media and makes the most of what each medium offers.”

Rajesh Lalwani, CEO, Blogworks,  agrees, saying thatIn today’s day and age, what is most important is that the integration be social by design. Adding a basic hashtag or a Facebook contest to an existing campaign no longer works, it is absolutely imperative that the social aspect is incorporated into the campaign right at the conceptualisation stage.”

Poonam Ganguly, Director – Media Moments points out that, “Indian brands are realising that it is the age of ‘Business to People’. While the offline communications tools continue to prevail in marketing & communications strategies, messages are now becoming conversations with people. The Indian consumer is on a high-speed, byte consuming spree where majority of the media consumption is screen based. This gives an opportunity for brands to engage with their target audience – who is always on the move with visually stimulating and creatively packaged content.”

Examples of integrated campaigns

Maybelline’s Kiss Song

Last month, Maybelline launched a song made up of crowd sourced ‘digital kisses’ to publicize Baby Lips balm.

Says Shoor “For Baby Lips we created a campaign where we integrated multiple touch points to create and magnify a never-before property. We decided to own the ‘Kiss’ and associate it strongly with Baby Lips. Maybelline rolled out a campaign integrated across various touch points including Facebook, TV and Radio, inviting girls to send us their kisses. We received a record 6000 kisses, and strung them together into the Baby Lips ‘Kiss Song’. This song in turn was showcased across YouTube, TV and also in Cinemas – leading to a huge buzz around the same. So it was the first time a brand created a crowd sourced song, using on-line and off-line media.”

Allen Solly

According to Blogworks, a recent application conceptualised and created by the firm for Apparel Company; Allen Solly translated engagement with fans and customers online, into sales at physical stores and achieved a 2,194% RoI in the process. “During Allen Solly’s ‘End of Season Sale’ in January 2013, we created a Facebook ‘Scratch Card’ application, where users could scratch a card virtually and win discounts of 30%, 35% or 40%. They could then take a print of the coupon, take it to the store and avail these discounts on their purchase.” Says Lalwani.

The application was available on mobile as well, for Android and iOS platforms, and was promoted through social ads and promoted posts. Lalwani adds that “The campaign saw about 9,000 people participating, and a conversion rate of 42%, with almost 4,000 people claiming the offer. The average yield per customer was 23% higher for a Facebook customer than an offline customer. And by the end of the month, the brand had achieved the desired target of revenue from Facebook alone.” and Goonj

Other campaigns integrated online with offline for a social cause. an online lingerie store celebrated Women’s Day this year by tying up with well-known social enterprise Goonj. Goonj provides clothing and other resources to the underprivileged living in rural India.

According to Ganguly, “Some of the women in the less privileged sections of our society do not have enough clothing to cover themselves. The brand and the communications team thought of a campaign which would give people a chance to contribute towards this cause. Zivame made it effortless to help these women by logging in to and placing a request for old clothes to be collected at the comfort of one’s home or office for free. Our offline tactic was to reach as many media touch points via the press note while the strategy on Twitter was to engage with many prominent personalities who stand for women empowerment and feminism.”

Harley Davidson

Another integrated campaign, part of iconic bike maker Harley-Davidson India’s celebration of ‘110 Years of Freedom’, was about amplifying an on-ground event, India’s first national H.O.G. Rally, held in Goa from early this year.

Says Rajesh Lalwani, “Several hundred Harley-Davidson owners came together in Goa to ride across the country, and where the reach of the event would have been limited to a few thousand, we were able to amplify this to reach several million on Facebook. With a pre-event cover photo countdown series to build anticipation, and sharing of live on-the-go content from the event, including a mini film series and stunning photographs, content from the event created about 900,000 social actions and over 34 million impressions. Not only did the online integration amplify the offline event, it also helped create high-impact content for long-term use, which made for great entertainment and endorsement.”

Lalwani advises that , “ There isn’t just one best way for brands to integrate social media within their campaigns, there are several, from incorporating Google hangouts to Twitter contests, to designing Facebook applications or tailoring content, there are a multitude of options available to marketers.”

Budgets, talent a challenge for Omnibus campaigns inspite of brand adoption

Leena Shoor feels that Indian companies are slowly but surely waking up to the efficacy of such campaigns. “They are also realizing that without integrating digital into their plans they are losing out on a medium which is becoming the primary medium for many consumers, especially the youth. This is making them more willing to set aside the required budgets and resources.” Adds Shoor.

While, there is no doubt that sophisticated omnibus campaigns are increasingly visible, some PR professionals feel that the budgets and talent are still a challenge. Says Poonam Ganguly, “For consumer brands, the Indian communications fraternity has reached a consensus on integrated campaigns being of value. However, budgets continue to be conservative and margins are shrinking. Moreover, attracting the right talent who have a mix of content, ideation and operational skills is a challenge which is yet to be overcome and requires PR firms to make the right kind of investments. In most cases the cost of executing an integrated campaign become at par if not lower than the actual fee. If the budget constraints are overcome and the right talent is mobilized, then PR firm can deliver cost-effective campaigns which would make sense to Indian brands.”