‘Purpose, Platforms, Pop Culture, Partnerships & Performance key to breakthrough content’


Srinandan Sundaram, Executive Director, Foods & Refreshment (F&R), Hindustan Unilever Limited and Vice President, F&R, Unilever, South Asia spoke about the duality in content consumption and dwindling attention span of consumers, which has turned challenging for advertisers. Sundaram was delivering a keynote session at exchange4media’s fifth edition of Content Jam 2021- The Content Marketing Gig. He addressed the overarching theme of the conference “Content Marketing- from Creation to Commerce.”

He shared that advertisers are becoming much more restless. Thirty-second ads have now become 12-second spots to appeal to consumers short attention span. Going by Facebook and Google metrics, the span has been further reduced to three-to-six seconds, he pointed out.

“And therefore, it becomes much more difficult for us to drive the message that a brand wants to give when the consumers are willing to give you this less attention span. But here’s where the inner and duality exists.”

According to him, when it comes to seeing advertising in isolation, we get three-six- eight seconds. Still, on the other hand, consumers are perfectly fine binge-watching if the content is relevant.

The average time spent consuming TV and spending on OTT platforms is significantly higher, he noted “Many of us have spent hours binge-watching something as recent Squid Game. The truth is that people are consuming content, and hence it’s only logical and makes sound business sense to try and see how the brand can leverage content and, therefore, present itself.”

He further shared that they either go down to three-second, which is important and continue to do what they are good at, which is 30 seconds. But equally good at the emerging party for 30 minutes. “That’s how my way of looking at how content is so crucial for brands to be able to explain their own narrative and their own story. Now the beauty of this is it requires a fundamental shift in thinking.   We used to assert the ecosystem of a brand and creative agency and had a media partner who works in isolation or with two-three partners to create content.”

Sundaram further mentioned that at HUL, they look at a much more collaborative approach to content creation. “This is a space where we as manufacturers, as marketers, are not the experts,” said Sundaram. Content Day brings together HUL’s iconic brands and the country’s iconic content creators at scale. HUL aims to create content around its brands that consumers would love to engage with and share with a wide range of content ecosystem experts.

“The larger message here is we can’t create content ourselves. We have got to reach out to the broader ecosystem, and we have to be crystal clear on the essence of what the brand wants to say.”

Sundaram shared his path to breakthrough content around five pillars — Purpose, Platforms, Pop culture, Partnerships, and Performance. Speaking about the first pillar, he shared that HUL truly believes that brands with purpose grow. For instance, Dove’s #StopTheBeautyTest campaign. “When you see the video, at what point, it a brand pitch or a great content is a never-ending debate. But that’s what powerful brands do. They can spark a movement and therefore generate a host of content which our consumer  would love to see.”

“The common thing around all of this is a requirement for us as marketers to be really clear about what is it that our brand stands for and then be much more open inclusive and inviting for various content creators to dabble with our brand. In many ways, it requires a lot more humility to say that I will control what the central theme of my brand is, and then open it up for consumers and content creators to make sure they’re able to engage with it, and therefore put it out in front of consumers to consume and spend time with.”

In summary, Sundaram shared,  “Content is critical to driving new age commerce. New-age commerce is not just about lower-funnel marketing, it is as important to build brand attributes, brand positioning through the upper funnel and lower funnel and for this to be done effectively, with a large population of consumers either watching content on the phone at the rural side of the country on watching content without a TV in the extreme top in both cases weaving in content  is the best bet for brands to pitch their story and for consumers to spend more time engaging with the brand.” Content is critical to drive new age commerce.

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