- Ad & Media Insider’s latest property Storyline, brought to you in association with
Wattpad, one of the world’s most loved storytellingplatforms, endeavors to decode what storytelling stands for today.
- Today, we bring you highlights from our first three episodes where we discuss how marketers and advertisers are navigating new mediums and innovating to tell engaging stories in today’s highly dynamic world.
PG Aditiya, Chief Creative Officer, dentsu Webchutney and Pooja Manek, creative director, dentsu Webchutney Bengaluru, Rajdeepak Das, CEO & Chief Creative Officer – South Asia, Leo Burnett and Sonal Mishra, Associate Vice President- Marketing, Unacademytalk about creativity and what it takes to tell successful stories in today's world.
In today’s digitally-driven world, where almost everything is happening online, storytelling continues to be at the heart of it all, albeit in different forms. Brands are still trying to find new ways of telling stories that engage with the consumers, and help the brands seamlessly become a part of their lives.
Ad & Media Insider’s latest property Storyline, brought to you in association with Wattpad, one of the world’s most loved storytelling platforms, that endeavors to decode what storytelling stands for today, how marketers and advertisers are navigating new mediums and innovating to tell engaging stories in today’s highly dynamic world.
Here are some key takeaways from our first three episodes:
Episode 1: PG Aditiya, Chief Creative Officer, dentsu Webchutney and Pooja Manek, creative director, dentsu Webchutney Bengaluru
Dentsu Webchutney in 2021 was the highest scoring Indian agency at the Cannes Lions this year, for the second year in a row. This year, the agency got 20 shortlists, bringing home a total of 7 Lions. So we tried to understand what storytelling means for this dynamic young agency.
Mediums and Creativity
Both PG Aditiya, Chief Creative Officer, dentsu Webchutney and Pooja Manek, creative director, dentsu Webchutney have been responsible for crafting some of the agency’s most-loved campaigns over the last few years.
We got to talking to them about how writing for the internet has impacted long-form writing and Aditiya started off with, “If long copy was Julius Caesar, then the internet is Brutus, with the last stab.” And truly, the internet has often been accused of killing long copy. However, Aditiya feels it has given birth to a new writing aesthetic.
Today it is not simply about crafting a great video, it could be about writing that perfect tweet or creating that engaging reel. “We have a joke within the team, that if a tweet is taking more than 15 minutes, its not worth it. There are so many trends everyday and at times, brands try too hard to get the most manufactured tweet with very engineered writing. And that’s when you get caught. We all make the mistake of thinking that the younger audience, especially Gen Z, are kids. But honestly, it's time to consider them as grownups and trying too hard comes across as a red flag for them,” explained Manek.
What works today
On what works in today’s world, Manek says, “Today, it’s no longer about something that is embraced and enjoyed. It is more about what travels. For GenZ, it is usually quid pro quo, you have to give them something for them to give you something back. It's no longer about hard selling, or over-engineering, it's about giving them something to chew on, and that’s how you get their attention.”
The internet is also an ephemeral medium. So how does one create engaging stories for the medium? “We try to spend less time on the theory of it and just make sure that whenever one of us has something that's worth not letting go of, we try to make it work,” added Aditiya.
User-Generated Content: The Secret Sauce
The advent of social media has also given consumers a voice today and user generated content has become an important tool for many brands. Webchutney has come up with a lot of social media campaigns that have gone on to generate UGC, making brands the talk of the town and part of a lot of trends. Talking about one such campaign they did for Tinder, Manek said, “For Tinder’s Valentine’s Day campaign, we were doing something around moving on. We were thinking of a few ideas and we realized that the digital age has made it harder for us to move on because you might want to move on but then you get reminders on different platforms. We all have so many pictures stored on our phones that we don’t delete maybe because we are attached to the memory, or we look good. So we launched a photoshopping service for two days and asked people what they wanted to replace their exes with. And we kept getting requests and replaced people with pizzas or wine. So we ended up photoshopping pictures for close to 36 hours, and that’s the power of UGC. We couldn’t have done it without people actually sharing those pictures. So you give the consumer something which is worth it and you just empower them and then magic happens.”
Aditiya said that this idea also busted the myth that you need some kind of incentive to make a UGC campaign work because at the end of it, consumers were not exactly winning something but were simply ‘Axing their Exes’.
Watch the full episode here:
LIVE | Join @PGAditiya, CCO, @webchutney and Pooja Manek (@boredmanek), Creative Director, @webchutney in conversat… https://t.co/yH7WRSlYK4— Advertising and Media Insider India (@admediainsider) 1644924610000
Episode 2: Rajdeepak Das, CEO & Chief Creative Officer – South Asia, Leo Burnett
Rajdeepak Das, the chief creative brain at Leo Burnett is often considered to be one of the most experimental and innovative creative storytellers in the country and a discussion around storytelling would have been incomplete without a conversation with him.
In our 2nd episode, we caught up with Das who talked to us about his storytelling journey and how he has evolved as a storyteller, with the evolution of mediums and consumers.
He tells us that his love for storytelling started as a child, when his mom would tell him stories from Panchatantra or Mahabharata. “My mother would enact a lot of those stories and I would be awestruck. And when a storyteller is asked ‘And then?’, that’s when you realize the power of storytelling. That’s exactly what we are doing while scrolling social media platforms, looking for our ‘And then’ on these mediums. And I feel, till the time humans are on this planet, the mediums will change but the navarasa won’t,” he said.
The Creative Intuition
For every creative professional, there is usually a method behind all the madness. For Das, who says he is bad at most languages he has tried to learn, it is more about understanding the human feelings than understanding a language.
“For any creative person, it is all about having an intuition, to understand why people say what they say and do what they do. As a creative, you have to have an intuition about what will work for consumers. You have to dream of what people want and then create something out of it,” he explains.
He also adds that the best way of bringing these dreams to fruition is by realizing that it can no longer be a one-man show. “Gone are the days when people would consider themselves God and think they know everything. That is impossible today. In today’s world, the only way of creating wonderful stories or bringing our ideas and intuitions to a proper execution is by ensuring you work with people who are smarter than you,” he added.
Finding solutions to human problems
Earlier this year,
“If I were to reflect on what advertising is all about today, I don’t believe in storytelling. It is all about finding human problems and solving them. Once you are able to do that, you will automatically create stories. And that’s what we did with ACKO’s StreetEye. The brand said, we don’t want to be just about insuring people. We want to get two step ahead and talk about protecting people. We didn’t want to talk about the cure; rather we wanted to do something to prevent the accidents from happening. And this is just one part of it. Everyday, we are working with brands like Reliance, Ariel, Tide, CarDekho, Airtel etc where it is all about using innovation to solve everyday human problems. A consumer doesn’t want advertising, he doesn’t want to buy things. If you are able to become a part of their lives by solving their problems, people will come to you,” said Das.
Watch the full episode here:
LIVE | Join Rajdeepak Das, CEO & Chief Creative Officer – South Asia, Leo Burnett in conversation with… https://t.co/9f6u7Qr99z— Advertising and Media Insider India (@admediainsider) 1645097410000
Episode 3: Sonal Mishra, Associate Vice President- Marketing, Unacademy
Storytellers, since time immemorial, have been exploring formats of narration that span nearly every conceivable gamut. And a lot of brands, in the early days of digital marketing, would stick to short videos. At the same time, there are brands that have been part of long-form stories, where they have seamlessly become a part of the narrative. In the past few years, we have seen Unacademy do that again and again, be it with its association with The Viral Fever (TVF) for hugely popular web series like Kota Factory and Aspirants, or its recent talked-about IPL ads. The brand has, time and again, used long-form content to draw audiences into their narrative, and it has largely worked for the most part.
To understand the brand’s secret sauce, we caught up with Sonal Mishra, Associate Vice President- Marketing, Unacademy, who took us behind the brand’s thought process and what has helped them stand out.
Crafting clutter-breaking stories
Over the years, digital has become a highly cluttered medium where everyone is trying to grab eyeballs where there is limited mindspace. So what are a few factors that Unacademy keeps in mind while crafting its stories?
“As a brand, we try to be unique and do the unexpected, but at the same time be relatable and believable. The emotions one derives and the value that you add is what stays with the audience for a very long time. So it's very important to be relatable and believable. Having said that, it is also important to tread on different routes that meet the consumer at different touchpoints in their journey. So it's very important to latch on to a stronger human insight to build that consumer connect,” shared Mishra.
For Unacademy, the goal is to engage with learners across the countries, be it in the metro cities or the smaller Tier II and III cities. Therefore, collaborating with platforms and creators who can help them reach out to a larger audience has been at the core of their associations with the popular TVF webseries.
“Whatever we do is about becoming a part of our consumer’s life cycle, connecting with them by addressing a topic they can relate to. Our recent property Unacademy Unwind, which was all about music and unwinding hit a different chord altogether. Another campaign we did called Mistakes – the Greatest Teacher, did very well. The campaign said that Unacademy doesn’t just stand for clearing exams or being successful, it also stands for the journey you took. These are a few things that have helped us stand out,” she explained.
Creating campaigns by listening to consumers
Brands that are able to listen to their consumers, catch their pulse and create content pieces around those insights are usually the ones to woo them. Unacademy has been able to break the clutter through a lot of its recent campaigns. So what is their feedback mechanism that is helping them craft their communications?
“Its not that we have figured it all out and know these are the secret ingredients that can make a piece of content work. It's a constant learning for us as well. But the benefits of these partnerships, initiatives, associations have been huge. They've helped us amplify the reach for the brand, build trust and penetrate deeper into the country. There were a lot of learnings from our associations like Kota Factory and Aspirants that we would like to better in the next property that we create. There have been a lot of pluses and we are learning at each step,” she added.
Long-form vs short content
While a lot of brands have been focusing on creating shorter, bite-sized content, Unacademy has associated with TVF and created highly talked-about webseries that have become a part of pop culture. Why did the brand choose long-form content over shorter content at a time when people are constantly talking about decreasing attention spans?
“Understanding the psyche of the audience helped us. A strong story is something we mutually work on with our partners, but at the same time, from a brand standpoint, we have always ensured that the product integrations are so seamlessly weaved into the story into the content, that it doesn't actually disrupt the flow of the story and the audience can continue to enjoy and get entertained. So that is something which we are very conscious of. And that's why whoever we partner with also find the entire journey exciting,” said Mishra.
Watch the full episode here:
LIVE | Join Sonal Mishra, Associate Vice President, Marketing at @unacademy in conversation with @AshwinRaghunath a… https://t.co/51eEJystug— Advertising and Media Insider India (@admediainsider) 1645443009000