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The Kind Of Labels That Create Confusion
Content marketing has been ‘the’ buzzword for the last five years in a market like India. It started off as clever content pieces utilising the vast online space to create interest and engagement around brands.
Photo Credit : Shutterstock
P&G’s global chief brand officer Marc Pritchard single-handedly made the content “crap trap” popular in the last few months. His views reflect the pressure that technology has created on marketers and agencies to keep generating content that is fresh, edgy and impactful.
Content marketing has been ‘the’ buzzword for the last five years in a market like India. It started off as clever content pieces utilising the vast online space to create interest and engagement around brands. The likes of Hindustan Unilever, Vodafone and Mondelez among others devised social media strategies based purely on this.
Another big movement was seen when marketing professionals began talking about snackable content — short, clever pieces. Too many forms have come and gone. Now we are gearing up for yet another. But before we go there, let’s understand what is content marketing.
So what is content marketing? The most popular definition found online is: “a type of marketing that involves creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand, but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services” followed by “social media is an integral part of content marketing”.
I must clarify that people still look at online definitions as credible, and no, many journalists are not among these people. We like dictionaries better. But for the purpose of this exercise, this definition works just fine.
Second clarification, we are not going to venture in the branded content segment here. For God’s sake, branded content is right there in the descriptor. Unless someone is really trying to complicate matters, that fits the content marketing bill.
Back on point, the keywords from the definition are creation, sharing, online, no explicit promotion and social media.
Now, let’s take into consideration P&G’s #ShareTheLoad ad, or the very popular #ThankYouMom ads. Or again from India, Odds By Adidas or the Lifebuoy handwashing ads led by Gondappa. Do these qualify as content marketing? They ‘nearly’ deliver on all five content marketing parameters. ‘Nearly’, because it depends on how much is “explicit promotion”. Chances are, in India, these were probably seen mostly as 30-second TVCs.
Hence, TVCs qualify as ‘content’ of ‘content’ marketing fame. Established. Now here’s the problem. The moment ad is also content, separating content marketing from advertising becomes a bit of an issue. The simple explanation, offered by some experts is the difference between plain and pure advertising versus ads that move, create an emotion, touch a chord… different ways to communicate the same end result. In each case, the brand is there because it just need not be explicit, as in selling its advantages and traits over competition. But it is present, and why not, it is supporting a cause, voicing a point of view, standing for something, as brands should.
So how are these different from the ‘one black coffee’ or the ‘kuch khaas hai zindagi mein’ or even the ‘doodh hai wonderful’ ads? Clearly, we have been content marketing for nearly three decades now. Sure, the rise of online made it a great buzzword, a sexy marketing jargon, and easy distribution levelled the creative playing field, but the rules are pretty much the same.
The consumer is not an idiot. The majority of the most-loved brands are created by entertaining and engaging consumers. Labels just create confusion and division — neither of which are worth anyone’s time.