Lintertainment to diversify into creatives & endorsements

MUMBAI: An evolving concept in the media space, which is slowly but steadily gaining momentum in India, is that of branded entertainment. It started with Leo Burnett‘s Leo Entertainment; then came Group M‘s BroadMind (which is by far the biggest player in India). Lintas‘ Lintertainment and Madison Communications‘ MATES followed suit.

A year and half old, Lintertainment (a part of Integrated Marketing Action Group of Lintas), like the other players, covers all entertainment aspects by identifying branding opportunities in movies and soaps; brands can thus associate with these products and further their communication messages.

"At Lintertainment we try to be a one-stop shop solution in the kind of services that we offer. We ensure and facilitate the gains from the synergy between brand and films, right from a media tie up to in-film and in-serial opportunities. At a later stage, we also have plans of diversifying into the creative space and into endorsements. We have covered up media tie ups, in-film and in-serial," says Lintertainment business head Nitienaa Rao.



Close Up - ‘Kyon Ho Gaya Na‘

Aishwarya Rai-Vivek Oberoi starrer ‘Kyon Ho Gaya NA had a 360 degrees communications from BTL, on-ground, outdoor, print coupled with a burst on television with with Close Up.

The producer wanted to capitalise on the on-screen and off screen chemistry between Aishwarya and Vivek and approached Lintertainment. And Linterntainment found the offer to be an apprporiate fit for Close-Up. The agency also knew that the producer was going to maximize on this chemistry and that they were coming on screen for the first time along with an icon called Amitabh Bachchan. So it was a win-win situation and hence the hype that was created and strategised around this film was humongous. "We explained this to our brand. Lintertainment besides being facilitators, right from ideating and not merely executing, we also direct and guide our brands to invest at the right place," Rao says.

There were no monies involved in the deal between ‘Kyon Ho Gaya NA and Close Up. It was a complete barter.

The signature song of the movie was launched at the Inorbit mall and there was no publicity done for it. Word of mouth publicity was what worked and people got to know that Vivek and Aishwarya were going to make an appearance. This itself instilled curiosity levels and understanding that anyway there was going to be an X number of people at the mall on a weekday. Close to 15,000 people turned up and the duo not only made an appearance but went a step ahead and performed for the audience.

Retail promotions, contests and also an auction of Aishwarya‘s outfit in Delhi was done. On television, a character was created for Close Up, which turned out to be the enabler. The entire media activity that was done was worth Rs 10+ million and at the end of the day the client was happy with the outcome.

What is branded entertainment? "Branded entertainment is not just about the marriage between two isolated products - entertainment and brand - but also about what goes behind creating this marriage," says Rao.

While Group M‘s BroadMind will focus primarily on television content, Lintertainment is more skewed towards movies. There are big plans but Rao is not willing to spell them out yet.

Lintertainment is currently in the process of giving final touches to a couple of in-film placements for a big banner movie, wherein the brands have been seamlessly woven in with the storyline. Rao says, "Bridging the gap between entertainment and brands has to be well thought of. You can‘t be a mediator or a facilitator. It has to be well ideated and well executed."

That does not mean that Lintertainment will ignore television opportunities.

According to her Lintertainment works in sync with other Lintas divisions, among which is Initiative Media. The latter‘s big opportunity came when it wanted to put Maruti Zen as a product placement in Sony‘s popular serial Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahi. "Jassi, who hailed from a middle-class family, couldn‘t think beyond an auto or a bus for commuting. A car was a luxury for her and when she was gifted with it, the gamut of emotions - ambition, need, desire and happiness - that Jassi felt was very well portrayed and received. The brand fit was perfect," Rao says.

Presently Lintertainment is working closely working with the Tatas with brands like Tata Tea Gold and Tata Indicom. Apart from that, the agency is also associating with Nerolac, Close Up and a lot of other top line Lever brands. Down South, Jaya TV is partnering with Lintertainment by providing software for the South Indian Cinematographers Awards (SICA), which was scheduled to take place last year, but got postponed because of the Tsunami episode.

Active Wheel - ‘Paisa Vasool‘

‘Paisa Vasool‘ with Active Wheel was a cross promotion with Manisha Koirala, which was very uniquely created by Lintertainment.

A special television commercial was made with Koirala in it, wherein she was promoting her movie and Active Wheel at the same time.

Manisha Koirala does a ‘paisa vasool‘ with Active Wheel

The agency recommends ideas to both parties - the brand to the producer and the producer to the brand. "We are involved in the entire process right from the start. Since we are also involved with the brands, we advice them on the investments too and we study the demographics, financials and their need to invest into a product before finalising anything," says Rao.

More and more corporates have started setting aside budgets for branded entertainment. However, the budget allocation differs from brand to brand. "Initially brands were not receptive to entertainment as much as they are now. Since this medium is expanding and evolving and with this space having gained the "industry" status, brands and corporates have started looking at it seriously. The entire package that comes across in the market is a very high valued product because you have a brand which is of repute and you have a film. Obviously, the curiosity and expectation levels from a film increase two-fold," says Rao.

While ideating on branded entertainment and the fit with the brand and the product, the content or the storyboard is important. Within that story, there needs to be a right sequence wherein in-film product placement can take place. "If we are able to come up with the right sequence in the film, then it is great. If not, then we look at post production. There are some brands that want to be involved right from the script level (in-film) to the post production (media tie-ups). It is an entire 360 surround," she adds.

Rao gives the space five years time to reach its peak in India. "I think by 2010 we would have achieved a lot. Earlier we never had digital entertainment or gaming, whereas now both are industries in their own right. Global players are seeing India as a potent market, which can be milked to the fullest. In times to come, entertainment will be evolving at a greater speed," she opines.

As branded entertainment gains momentum, it is likely that traditional media channels will be impacted in the near future. For example: Initially channels weren‘t very receptive to in-serial placement and came down heavily on the production houses when the latter tried to do such things. But over a period of time, they saw it as a great opportunity and also as an alternate source of revenue. Another strategy that the channels devised was that in tandem with the brand spend, in-serial was given as a value add. That‘s what Sony has been doing. Star Plus was not receptive to it initially but has started doing it now and is not averse to the idea.

"I think traditional media will be impacted but not aversely. No sensible and wise entrepreneur would like to let go of an opportunity that will give added revenues and which will also heighten the scope of opening up other avenues," Rao says.

The branded entertainment market is very minuscule right now, but is set for growth. "The branded entertainment market has grown 20 per cent from what it was last year. If a channel is receptive in terms of software, a lot can be done via branded content and the right kind of ad spends from the brand‘s side," Rao says.

Agencies are now monitoring the viewing pattern of the audience in terms of commercials and there is a lot of research taking place. Understanding how branded entertainment can be leveraged and utilised and also understanding the mechanism behind it, is what will take this space forward.

"Brand entertainment has more to do with furthering your communication and riding on the success of the product and its creative ideas. They both compliment each other. Brands have taken a step forward from moving away from conventional form of advertising to integrate themselves with non-conventional advertising," Rao says.

The fact remains that branded entertainment is at a very nascent stage in India. It has more to do with furthering one‘s communication and riding on the success of the product. "At this point in time, we can‘t say that we are at par with Hollywood. Much more effort is needed. But we are adopting to the change. We are also learning and that is very important," Rao concludes.

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