Brands & Entertainment 2022 – Recap and Highlights

Brands & Entertainment 2022 – A two-day event held at the opulent Taj Lands End Mumbai introduced attendees to the possibilities, opportunities, developments, and current events in gaming, media, entertainment, and the metaverse. Mentoring attendees one-on-one at the Networking Lounge, panel discussion members agreeing and disagreeing with each other, and showcasing snippets of what is to come – all contributed to a real buzz of enthusiasm for the future in media and entertainment.

An esteemed panel of industry experts dissected their most impactful and heartfelt advertising campaigns over two days. In attendance were over 1000 participants, including students and working media professionals.

Before we dive deep into what went down over two days, here are some major takeaways from the conference:
1. OTT Platforms will contribute to major regional content over the next few years, making regional content higher than any other in the country.

2. Content Creators, Gamers, and Influencer Marketing have taken the market by storm, with maximum impact in India since the explosion of Short Content formats since 2020.

3. On content creation platforms like YouTube, Instagram, or even Josh, consistency and using all formats to create content is crucial for the algorithm to pick you and begin dispensing results.

4. Identifying data points, creating targets, and teaming it with your creativity to produce better ROI (Return Of Investment) remains the precedent for effective content creation and results.

5. Advertisers need to be as creative and aware as possible, given we live in an age where it’s now optional to see advertisements. They need to bring enough creatively enthusing ideas to life as possible.

Mr. Brian Tellis, Blues radio host, prominent figure at the Mahindra Blues Festival, and Founder & Group CEO at Fountainhead, kicked off the event. Tellis admitted that he would begin with a cliche, referring to media’s developments and progress over the years with the phrase “The only constant is change.” Setting the tone for the events that were to follow, he was an ever-present figure at the conference. Elaborating on the evolution and spread of music from vinyl records to cassettes and now steaming platforms, he concluded his opening speech with, “This is the time for the greatest change.”

Ashish Pherwani, Partner & Leader Of Media & Entertainment at Ernst & Young (EY) Global Limited, produced entertainment statistics based on language, consumption, and platforms. He concluded that OTT platforms will continue to be game-changer in the future. He said, “On TV, 60% of viewership is regional. OTT is 30% moving to 50% by the year 2025.”

Later in the morning, an intriguing panel discussion called ‘ROI of Branded Content’ was held with Akshat Gupt – Co-Founder of the media network Kulfi Collective, Vijay Koshy – President of Entertainment Providers The Viral Fever, and Anuraag Srivastava – CEO of Media and Entertainment Company Rainshine Global.

A lively discussion ensued, with each participant offering their perspective on the Return on Investment for marketing campaigns. Anuraag Srivastava concluded, “Unlearn what you know, be prepared for failures and successes, trust the experts, and if you hired a dog, don’t bark, let them bark for you.”

Impresario Handmade Restaurant’s Chief Marketing Officer, Alexander Valladares, elaborated on the authenticity and connection with local communities at the heart of all their marketing endeavors. They have expanded the narrative of their food outlets beyond food and beverage and redefined their restaurants as a transitionary space that includes a workspace, a pub, a music venue, and an all-around event space – explaining this through the brand ‘SOCIAL & Community Building.’

Alexander also stated that events draw crowds, and the content related to that event will raise awareness digitally. Their projects are centered on the local community; these collaborations are not always large in scale; however, by being community-based, they can better build strength within the local community. He touched upon IPs like Deluxe Thali, Satrangi Mela, Optikal Asylum, and many more, as examples to explain the subcultures and niches identified, along with events executed.

There were two workshops held in the Salcette room – One by Brian Tellis on ‘Building Your Personal Brand’ where he spoke about how it’s important to know what you’re good at and dedicate your all to achieving your dream. The second workshop was by Deepak Choudhary, a revered name in the event industry, also known as the IP Man of India. He spoke about Branded IPs and how, “it’s not only about great ideas, but the great people who give it meaning.”

What followed was a captivating panel discussion about the role of brands in gaming and e-sports called ‘Brands, Entertainment & Sports: A Marriage Made in Heaven’. The gaming industry experienced a tremendous boom during the pandemic and continues to grow. According to Atit Mehta, Marketing Head at Think & Learn Pvt. Ltd, “Brands are built on the back of a popular culture, sports culture has come up in a big way, it’s all about triangulating what is working between sports and entertainment.”

Animesh Agarwal, the founder of 8bit Creatives, explained the ups and downs in which he stepped into the industry following his education, and discussed that gaming is an inexpensive culture that can be enjoyed with only a cellphone. On gaming in the Web3, Jogesh Lulla, COO of Cornerstone Sport & Entertainment, explained the possibilities of the immersive experience. He emphasized the benefits for those with disabilities who can eventually actively engage in metaverse explorations.

Shreya Sachdev, Head of Marketing at Puma India, spoke to attendees virtually about her brand story. She discussed how creators and agencies should focus on providing value to their audiences because there is so much content available, which causes content fatigue. Shreya stated that the audience response to an advertisement or marketing campaign should be used to measure its success. She delved into Puma India’s recent #PropahLady campaign and shared insights that items modeled by shoppers sold better across the stores, which helped them better understand their consumers.

In the ‘Bringing Subcultures to the Market: Is There a Sponsorship Potential?,’ it’s important to note how marketers have to cope with changing trends to identify what’s going on or pockets of subcultures. Preranaa Khatri, EVP at OML Entertainment said, “Sometimes social listening helps. Memes are often a good place to spot a subculture.”

Roshan Abbas, a prominent figure on both days of the conference, shared the stage with film director and co-founder of Tiger Baby Films, Reema Kagti, for a Fireside Chat. During their conversation, which covered her career from having no background in film to becoming one of Bollywood’s most celebrated filmmakers, Reema stated that making a film is expensive and it must make commercial sense; it cannot be a passion or vanity project. She also stated that writers and creators should immerse themselves in an idea until it becomes a reality.

In response to a question about the hiring and talent search process, Rema stated that her company, Tiger Baby, recently added an intern to their team, who they discovered on Twitter.

“Feminine and fierce, that’s Tiger Baby” – Reema Kagti

Chief Creative Officer Sukesh Nayak at Advertising Services company Ogilvy broke down their 2021 Diwali Ad campaign for Cadbury starring actor Shah Rukh Khan. He shared that the thought process was “Thinking of what to do, not just for Cadbury but for local stores” after a rough couple of years owing to the pandemic. Sukesh dived into the entire process of creating the commercial using modern technology while making something meaningful for consumers. In anticipation of this year’s Diwali celebration and campaign to follow, he said, “You can’t use the same idea again but you can pass the thought forward.”

A slew of gaming content creators and live streamers were also present during both days sharing their journeys and the future of the gaming and Esports Industry, as a whole. On the ‘How Does GenZ Want To Be Marketed and Communicated To?’ panel, Mithilesh Patankar, better known as Mythpat, a gaming live streamer and content creator on YouTube with 12 million subscribers remarked, “In content creation, the audience connect is the most important thing.” Also on this segment was content creator and mentalist Suhani Shah, who has made a career performing on stage since the age of seven. On transforming her stage act into a digital one, she said, “I am more of a live performer, however when challenges come your way, you have to be innovative.”

Poornima Sharma, Partner Marketing Manager at Netflix India, immersed audiences in Netflix’s thinking process and limited brand collaborations. She said, “Marketing needs to be as entertaining as content on Netflix and hence (they) look for brands who think on the same lines.” A team of three oversees brand partnerships at the company based on customer insights and fandom. The team focuses on titles/shows that already have a conversation built around them as well as what elements audiences are discussing.

Neurologist Dr. Siddharth Warrier in conversation with comedian and producer Tanmay Bhat added a scientific take on customer and consumer behavior. The lively duo discussed emotional triggers in advertisements that resonate with audiences, colors in advertising, trust, brand loyalty, and also entertained numerous questions from the audience.

“Our brain is incredibly smart and incredibly stupid at the same time” – Dr. Siddharth Warrier.

Marketing Consultant and Content Creator Ankita Chawla aka Hustlerani concluded the day with a presentation on Gen Z Culture Immersion with Roshan Abbas. They presented findings from Kommune’s Spilling the Tea report, which includes stories from Generation Z, expert opinions, and quantitative on-the-ground surveys. Ankita went on to say that the only thing that works across any social media platform, regardless of content, is keeping an authentic story at heart. On her learnings and growth as a creator, she mentioned, “I see the comments section as a very valuable resource to see if my content is landing.”

Day 2 kicked off by discussing ‘Broadcast to OTT: How Has The Business Involved?” with Sameer Nair of Applause Entertainment, in conversation with Brian Tellis. Followed by the ‘Agencies and Brand Marketing: Leaders or Followers?’, VG Jairam of Hyperlink made a statement that resonated with marketers throughout from thereon. Be it anyone, “Storytelling is at the core of everything.” Vineet Kanabar, host of the podcast Story Tellers and Story Sellers said, “The job of the agency or the creative partner is to find common ground and bring people together, making sense for the consumer and in turn, ROI.”

Vishakha Singh, Vice President at NFT Marketplace WazirX, presented the company’s brand stories with a presentation. It showed various statistics and figures, including a growth in the number of female creators on the platform. She also informed audiences that Gen Alpha, children born after 2010, are already on the blockchain with the youngest creator being 10 years old and the collector age 14. In terms of marketing and brand building, she said “None of our team members have any NFT experience. We just went by logic and importantly focused on the community and educating the community.”

Simultaneously, workshops were held by Google and YouTube experts in the Salcette room, focusing on using YouTube Shorts as a new Short form content platform, as well as using YouTube’s tools to keep Subscribers engaged, and building monetary campaigns only once each of the tools is well-utilized.

Also held on day two was a panel discussion with India’s leading personalities in Audio content. The ‘For Your Ears Only: Maximizing The Potential of Audio Entertainment’ panel discussed the evolution of audio entertainment, from the early days of radio to the freedom of storytelling and interactivity through podcasts. It was concluded that radio will always be a ‘music first’ media platform, not leaving out how much more they can do that podcasts have already achieved in recent years.

The very lively discussion had each panelist provide important insights and information. According to research material shared by Amit Doshi, the majority of podcast listeners began only a little more than 6 months ago.

“If you think of an idea, and it hasn’t already been done yet with podcasting, you have the ability to be creatively bold” – Mae Mariyam Thomas.

‘Data vs Instinct: What Should Guide Your Creativity?’ was an interesting conversation because many of us know how driven to ride the algorithm content creators are! All things considered, Prashant Sardesai Head of Content Business Intelligence & Strategy at the Josh app made an interesting point about how, “When you’re looking at or using data, bring perspective. If you have set up your data questions right, you will look at data the right way.”

This session was followed by a Fireside Chat with Ferzad Palia from Voot, discussing how nothing has changed in terms of consumption, except the number of options everyone in a single household has, and the number of platforms they can be viewed on.

Siddharth Roy Kapur, The Founder & Managing Director of Roy Kapur Films, in his keynote address discussed the possibilities that Indian cinema has to offer, using the rise of Korean cinema and culture in recent years as an example. He also spoke about the various challenges Indian cinema faces today – Filmmakers not born to love commercial lasting ideas seen in Bollywood movie formats, the ‘star’ system leading to a situation where money is spent on the stars in the film rather than on other aspects, spoiling the monetary economics of the industry, and more.

A panel discussion was held on ‘Content Marketing 2022: The Best Way Forward’. It focused on brands being authentic, content being dynamic and changing constantly, the need for brands to be customer-focused, and the main target audience for brands being Gen Z. On the panel was Shameer Tandon, Music Director and Music Composer, who shared that numbers and figures don’t mean anything unless there is community engagement.y

Preeti Nayyar, Vice President at Universal Music Group, stated, “Start with authenticity and take it to consistency. Anything started as a shallow activity will not last.” Rahul Khanna, Founder And Director at Barcode Entertainment, expressed his opinion that only two types of businesses will survive in the future: technology businesses and technology-enabled businesses.

The conference also took a deep dive into navigating the Metaverse with Anshul Rustaggi, Founder of Totality Corp – a software and entertainment company, Rishi Bradoo, music producer and co-founder and creative lead at the Swaraj Projekt, and Kamal Ahuja, Strategic Alliance and Partnership at WazirX NFT Marketplace.

Concluding the two-day conference was content curator, music producer, hip-hop artist, and Rapper Badshah with MD & CEO – India & South Asia at Universal Music Group, Devraj Sanyal. The crowd in the ballroom was enthusiastically scrambling to take notes with each exchange, advice, and career lesson shared by the both of them.

When questions about a creative block, Badshah paralleled an example of an electrician saying, “When you call up an electrician at 3 AM for something, he knows what to do and fixes the problem. That’s the level of practice and commitment you need in your art so that no creative block can exist.”

Devraj Sanyal also noted to the audiences that artwork as NFTs is only the tip of the iceberg in the metaverse and there is a lot more to come. In terms of creating music, Devraj also advised artists to sample music with people who aren’t already known to them. “Play your song to your cab driver, in your building society, in a cross-section of society. Let people who are not connected to you sample your music, and you will gain a lot more valuable feedback.” The session exceeded time and advice by leaps and bounds but left the crowd intrigued.

All in all, the first edition of Brands & Entertainment was a fresh start in the space of branded content, media and entertainment. It discussed and brought vital information like revenue, statistics, and numbers to the table, along with understanding the psyche of the consumer and the changing ways to market to newer generations every decade, with rapid development in technology and formats.

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