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Advertisers desire better opportunities to use animated characters in ads

They want broadcasters to create more Indian characters that they can license

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MUMBAI: Advertisers are looking at broadcasters to create more Indian animated characters that they can leverage to market their products amongst kids to get better engagement. This was the topic of the panel discussing “Building on 200 eyeballs” at the recently concluded AnimationXpress.com’s Kids, Animation & More Summit.

The panel, including Hamleys India head of marketing Sivaraman Balakrishnan, Baskin Robbins India head of marketing Samyukta Ganesh Iyer, Pidilite Industries category head – consumer products division Kartik Subramanian, KidZania India marketing director Tarandeep Singh Sekhon, Parle Products senior category head marketing Krishnarao S Buddha and Mattel Toys head – consumer products Permendra Singh, was being moderated by Publicis Worldwide managing director Srija Chatterjee.

All the panellists unanimously agreed that it is better to communicate with kids in a manner that is more appealing and understandable for them. However, there is a serious lack of animated advertisements and marketing initiatives in the Indian scenario. They urged broadcasters like Sony and Discovery, who were present in the audience, to create more IPs of strong resonating Indian cartoon characters that they can license for marketing.

Balakrishnan noted that there is a dearth of Indian cartoon characters who complete the full circle of being present across all media, including TV, print, and digital and that makes it difficult for them to qualify as licensable units.

He said, “Barring Chhota Bheem and Motu Patlu, I can’t think of any other Indian characters that are present across platforms. For example, Peppa Pig. You can see it on TV, and on digital, they have an app and are present in stores; basically across all touchpoints that a child today goes to. For most Indian characters, TV is the only touchpoint. They really don’t reach that stage.”

Iyer shared that Baskin Robbins, in countries like Japan and Korea, has created some licensing properties, like associating with Pokemon, Frozen, etc. In India, it hasn’t done much. We are on a hunt to find good IPs that we can partner with. I would urge everybody sitting here to create characters that we can license.”

Singh added that it is also important for the characters to emotionally connect with the user to become a franchise. Citing the example of Barbie, he noted that a child spends most part of the day with the doll dressing her, playing with her, even sleeping with her and therefore develops a relationship that lasts for a lifetime. He said, “It is not about characters or brands, it is about how strongly they are connected to the audience.”

Subramanian added another dimension to the discussion as he insisted that it is necessary for brands to interact directly with animation studios as they do with their ad agencies. He said that there are a lot of benefits that animated advertisements can give to brands by opening a very broad canvas.

An interesting suggestion was pelted towards the panel by Indiantelevision.com founder, CEO, and editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari as he asked the brands to create their own unique IPs and partner with channels to get them on screen.

Krishanarao S Buddha mentioned that creating animation in-house is quite expensive and difficult to sustain. “The better way out is to create an association, like Parle has done with Chhota Bheem. We have a special Chhota Bheem Parle G pack that has already started contributing 8-10 per cent to performance.”

Sekhon noted that creating own unique IPs is a more of a business than marketing decision but he will be glad to see the KidZania mascots on the bigger screen.

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