The Archery of Narratives

Today, the consumer is in control, and increasingly the challenge for advertisers is to create experiences that people will want to have because they may no longer have to have them. With time, has the consumer mindset changed or the advertising tactics changed, or the mindset has been shaped up by burgeoning access to information and ability to express more?

The nineties brought about a revolutionary revelation in the way messaging is done and advertising witnessed a world of innovative campaigns belted out one after the other like the superhit Govinda movie days. Surf (Lailita ji fame), Onida, Bajaj, Bakemans, Cinthol, Lyril, Melody, Natraj, Vicks Inhaler, Pan Pasand, Pan Parag, Zandu Balm, Percy and ofcourse Nirma. Each one has a power punch line leading to high recall. Those days we did not have social and smartphones that much, like today the success of a campaign may be attributed to its virality aspect.

The biggest ongoing challenge perhaps, is still being ‘in the moment’ and that too gunning the Achilles heel of the target consumer who is omni-present on different screens and places in this ‘phygital’ space and all this while thinking about attribution as well.

Every messaging has two essential parts – one is the powerful underlying narrative and the other being the tweak in messaging according to the situation and occasion. I best relate creating content to Archery. Being a digital immigrant and being on both sides of creating and consuming content, here are my top five learnings on how to get closer to ‘bull’s eye’ for deepest consumption of your message for the audience today.

  1. Right mix of emotions – For instance, there are different ways to express when we have good food. One of the expressions is ‘soul satisfying food’. That food preparation I did say has the right mix of ingredients for the experience lingers on. And that is also the reason that one ingredient in certain recipes are tried to be kept a secret because that balances the flavours. Narratives are like that, because there is so much one can do in a language from choosing the right words to formation of the message depending on the medium, it requires to understand the blend of the right mix of emotions whereby respecting the thin line between ‘overwhelming’ and ‘just right’. Also, depending on the occasion, there could be in fact just one emotion that could be worked on.
  2. Immersive – simply connotes actively engaging with one’s senses. The script plays the most critical part here. And in case of protagonists, choosing the most apt cast. To me, immersive means getting in. For an immersive play of things, some old school essential elements are who will consume the content, geography and culture of that area, is it gripping enough. This may come with multiple attempts, however, taking an integrated and data driven approach will set the right calculation and expectation from the campaign. Also, it may not always be necessary to innovate to be immersive.
  3. Trust inducing – researchers say that Oxytocin, produced in the hypothalamus is the responsible hormone. That’s the science part, which when mixed with creativity and ‘art of connect’ with the human mind, it automatically starts trusting the message. This is the pedestal on which consumption of narratives rest – Trust. So, building the message in a genuine manner acts as a catalyst. Different products will have different audience segments, however, the common thread that binds all mindsets is authenticity.  As clichéd as it may sound, it is still the most difficult art.
  4. Consumer threshold – This one is consequential. Within the stream of data science, leveraging psychographic data is of utmost importance to understand how much message, what kind of message is our audience is most likely to consume optimally. There is a line which separates ‘consumption’ with ‘absorption’. We all consume, however, how many of us absorb the same? Absorbing content will lead to better recall value and deeper opportunity to create trust in the minds of the consumer. This is where one needs to always be careful of the ‘threshold’ of the target consumer because if it exceeds that threshold, the message will run through the human eyes and ears like a ‘ghost’. This is the zone where, needs to double check everything in the narrative before hitting ‘enter’.
  5. Traditional approach In the age of Digital, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, 5G, Blockchain and omni-channel consumer, the one thing that has evolved with multiple disruptions is ‘The way marketing technology is being utilised to create differentiated experiences.’ Though, however formidable attribution may be, we should not forget that the word ‘traditional’ is a derivative of the word ‘tradition’. At times, if creativity and traditional mindset roll in tandem, it can create magic. So, this is one thing which we should always keep some room for. Think of this one like a ‘joker’ in a pack of cards. Use it when necessary and most importantly, knowing when to use it.

At the end, I would say – Be the archer of narratives and content will fall in place.

Ankoor Dasguupta
Ankoor Dasguupta is the Vice President - Media at Hashtag Orange. With two decades of work experience, Ankoor identifies himself as a learner, mentor and a strong believer in network effects and nurturing relationships.

He believes in the power of Energy, Energise, Communities and Network Effect. He brings with him 21 years of experience through the spectrum of marketing and advertising across functions in print, digital, mobile, events along with a strong C-Suite network.

A learner, coach and trainer, Ankoor has been part of the core launch teams of conceptualising and producing multiple international IPs in India and is an avid writer and active speaker at various forums. Ankoor is a firm believer of nurturing relationships. Ankoor tweets from @AnkoorNow.

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