Right Mix of Premium Content and Great Marketing Defines the New-age Brands Holistic and relentless marketing policy that surrounds potential customers until it succeeds in developing the 'must-buy' feeling in the key

By Darshan Bhatt

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In 2011, a lawsuit was filed by a woman who felt extremely cheated by the marketing of Ryan Gosling's critically acclaimed movie "Drive'. Projected as a muscle-car and action sequence heavy flick, Nicolas Winding-Refn's"Drive' was instead, a gritty crime-drama with a slow-boiling study of the unnamed driver, Ryan Gosling's character. While the woman's reaction was certainly over-the-top, she did have a point. Wrong marketing led fans to claim that the film was dull and slow paced, and even after getting strong positive reactions from critics and film festivals, the film could not drive its way to solid returns.

Marketing in the Right Manner

The correct balance of content and tailor-made marketing efforts has been a pre-requisite for success for a long while. Identifying the target audience of a content offering and putting in efforts to inform, motivate and incentivize them to consume it has been the staple procedure for content marketers. In the process, there have been many hits and misses, with numerous examples of exquisite shows being cut-off prematurely or of average shows enjoying unprecedented success due to marketing. However, in the digitized content platform of today with tremendous competition and a highly opinionated, aware and expanding consumer base, misses cannot be afforded anymore.

Market Play

The simultaneous increase in spending on original content as well as marketing by the 3 biggest players in the OTT space, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu, show the equal weightage given to these aspects by the SVOD companies. The 3 players will have tripled their current expenditure on original content by 2022, spending a combined $ 10 billion annually. Correspondingly, Netflix has also increased its marketing budget to $2billion this year. Although the platform's ultimate goal is to achieve such an organic reach for its shows that it does not have to spend on paid marketing, that dream remains distant.

The Netflix Way

One look at the enormous scope of the outdoor campaign launched for Netflix's first Indian original Sacred Games, and it can be said that the show's marketing framework had a lot to do with it reaching out as effectively as it has. While on the content aspect, filmmakers accustomed to threadbare film budgets such as Anurag Kashyap have continuously praised Netflix's policy of free reign and money flow, the superlative marketing efforts done by the company have also borne fruit. From social media interactions to interviews with the actors and writers, meticulous marketing planning of the show has whet the appetite of prospective consumers significantly.

The Strategy

Mass mediums of awareness for shows which are premium in terms of content is a new way of catching the audience's attention. While some brands thrive on creating a "niche' or halo around them to generate some sort of a "cult' desire among consumers, smarter premium brands know the benefit of going "all-in'. The greatest example is Apple, arguably the most premium experience oriented brand out there, which utilizes mass mediums of marketing to its fullest advantage. From targeted digital ads to billboards and hoardings, Apple follows a holistic and relentless marketing policy that surrounds potential customers until it succeeds in developing the "must-buy' feeling in them. Had it played on just utility, quality of product or a desire to create a unique and segmented target audience group, it may not have been able to become the phenomenon it is today.

The same principle will apply for premium shows in the future. As quality shows become the central topic of discussion across dinner tables or long queues, their marketing will assume greater proportions. Premium content viewing is not limited to a specific, urbane, English-speaking audience anymore. The advent of smartphones, low data consumption costs, multi-language dubbing and shows that highlight the ground reality have really widened the audience base, and mass marketing tools is the best way to reach out to this ever enhancing target group. Content consumption is the habit of the future, and players who are able to use mass media vehicles to instill this habit as early and as wide as possible, will rule the future entertainment domain.

Darshan Bhatt

Director, GoQuest Digital Studios

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