Having an influencer network is almost mandatory today: Anil Viswanathan
Anil Viswanathan, Senior Director, Marketing, Mondelez India, talks about the growing importance of social media influencers, brand safety and the company’s openness to experimenting with new ideas. Edited excerpts from Mint’s first round of interviews with marketing leaders that capture the dynamic and rapidly evolving world of marketing:
Your new Cadbury Dairy Milk campaign refreshing the iconic 1994 commercial with an interesting gender role reversal has gone viral. How did it happen?
I think it’s an idea from a junior creative member of our partner agencies, Ogilvy. When the idea was presented to us, we instinctively felt it was a great idea to execute. You can see this film as part of the platform that we’ve been running on a series of initiatives over the past three years. Cadbury Dairy Milk stands on the platform of bounty. We express it in India as Kuch Achha Ho Jaaye, Kuch Meetha Ho Jaaye. We have tried to bring this thought to life by trying to shed light on the recognition of the unconfessed. Especially after the covid, the country was swept away by a wave of gratitude to all those who took care of our lives. We just felt it was appropriate for us to even compose this whole message of generosity. We did this as part of the “Thank You” campaign last year.
When this idea was presented what struck us was this new emerging trend of celebrating women and their accomplishments in all fields and we thought that was such a beautiful representation of that.
What was the initial response to the campaign?
The first few days, but needless to say it took us completely by surprise. To be very honest, when we launched and released it, it was almost like an experiment. Now that we see the love and the response it elicits, we are investing heavily behind it. We actually launched it on Kaun Banega Crorepati and during the Indian Women Tour (cricket) Australia. I think we will continue to invest behind. There are a lot of cricket grounds where we are going to be active.
How experimental is Mondelez when it comes to hanging on to new social media platforms?
We continue to experiment a lot. One of the things that has worked well with us is the fact that we’re open to experimenting and trying a lot of different things, whether it’s a Snapchat filter on Valentine’s Day, or a Twitter campaign on cyberbullying, or a mental health awareness program on WhatsApp. Much is also the idea first. When we have a good idea, we see different platforms adopting that idea differently. The only caveat I would add is that we are also clear on the safety of the brand, given that it is an important parameter for us. We have strict global guidelines and we also like to be too careful.
As social media channels become popular, do you think they need to be regulated?
In all industry organizations, there is a clear attempt to create an element of fair play and to ensure that there is no overbidding or the spread of false information. Obviously, abuse is rife in this medium. Therefore, industry bodies are working together and it will be great to be vigilant to ensure that malicious messages do not spread and that there is adequate security, not only for consumers but also for brands. . There is a great desire for user-generated content – there are so many micro-influencers – it’s a gray area and regulators and micro-influencers have to come in to figure out how to regulate that.
In terms of equal opportunities, we are also today in a situation where we are looking for an integrated vision, from a multimedia point of view and as new platforms arrive it becomes more and more complex. More and more, there are calls for transparency and greater sharing so that there is more consistency.
Do you think the influencer network in India has reduced the influence of celebrities on campaigns?
I don’t think there can be a definitive answer to this. Obviously, their roles are different. There are stages in a brand’s lifecycle where a celebrity can be of tremendous value.
Today, in the functioning of the media, having a network of influencers has almost become mandatory. They play a role, especially in social media, for engagement, but over time the lines blur as well. There have been cases of celebrities who have become influencers and influencers who have become celebrities.
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