This Bollywood Director Runs India's First Branded Content Studio

India's licensing industry is pegged at USD 1.4m, however, in the coming year, it is expected to grow multifold

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Earlier this year in May, when the One Plus 6’s Marvel Edition went to sale – it was merely a matter of few moments, and the phone went out of stock. This is not the first time though fans went crazy.  Last year when One Plus 5T’s Star Wars edition phone went to sale – the fans reacted in a similar fashion.

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Though One Plus phones are known for its superb configuration, the company rode high on licensing with the special edition phones. This is the power brand licensing.

Indian brand licensing segment, which is pegged at USD 1.4 million while globally the sector it is reported to be around USD 271billion, is considered to be at a very nascent stage. However, with growing paying power, increasing penetration of smartphones, cheaper data cost along with consumer awareness – the industry is believed to doubling soon.

One such entrepreneur to realise the domestic industry’s potential is Suparna Varma. The ace writer-director is the co-founder of Katha Pictures, which is India’s first branded content studio. In other words, the company actively works with brands and companies to create IPs.

Talking about his venture with Entrepreneur India, Varma shares, “Today, advertising has changed completely – the impact is short lasting. What lasts is the relationship between brand and audiences. One can establish this us by creating content that connects brands with their audiences. The IPs that we create can be taken forward in terms of storytelling to start a relationship with the brand.”

Among Katha’s noted work is Beardo69, a web series. The company collaborated with men’s grooming brand Beardo to produce the web series, which can be viewed on YouTube.

The Scope of Licensing in India

A few years ago, the mere idea of copyright didn’t really hold much-sacred value. And even though, laws existed nobody took it seriously.

However, in the past few years, Varma feels implementation of the IP laws have become much stronger and people have realised IP is directly equal to money. But there is work to do as the entrepreneur believes there still a lack of education related to IP in the country.

On asking what is the key to successfully running a licensing program, Varma promptly said planning. “When you start planning and then it's just about your foresight  - you plan you act on it. However, if you ride on a wave, once it dies down so does the property and hence, the licensee should be flexible enough to change the plans as the trends start changing,” he added.

The Rise of OTT

In the recent years, India has also witnessed a significant rise amongst OTT platforms and the web series, wherein some of the iconic characters have created an opportunity for the licensing industry.

Varma believes OTT works well because they have follow-up season concept. Take an example of, Game of Thrones. It is eight seasons series and it's going to rewatched and syndicated in different countries - so it like an entire universe. Or comic character which has been in the market for more been around 60-years. So, you literally have a generation hooked on to it.

“Once you create a universe, you can license it out and use it in various ways. If the domestic OTT platforms realise that they have to create universes rather than just the story - we are going to see licensing taking up a much bigger role,” he asserted while adding that. ,“Things need to be transitory. Unless Bahubali's universe extends for next 10-years, people will wear the film's merchandise for next  few years or otherwise, it will die out.”

Vanita D'souza

Written By

Entrepreneur Staff

I am a Mumbai-based journalist and have worked with media companies like The Dollar Business Magazine, Business Standard, etc.While on the other side, I am an avid reader who is a travel freak and has accepted foodism as my religion.