Branded content is growing fast in India, taking 10% of media budgets, but the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation has no intention of deploying its famous Amul girl in this context.

The Amul girl is one of India’s longest running brand characters who, in her own witty style, discusses current affairs and would seem to be a natural candidate for use in branded content marketing.

But the company has refrained from doing that, as it does not want to risk tinkering with a strong brand property that has served the brand well for over five decades, establishing a unique position that transcends the immediate commercial agenda to become a commentator on Indian life in general.

At the recent iStream Congress conference in Mumbai, Pavan Singh, deputy general manager/marketing at Amul, without specifically referring to the iconic cartoon character, explained: “The issue is how far you can leverage a property without making it an intrusion into the lives of people.” (For more details, read WARC’s report: Striking a balance with branded content strategies in India.)

“There is a concern that a lot of people move from one platform to another, and people moving from conventional television to OTT platforms is also partly a reason we want to avoid an intrusive device,” he said.

The other area that concerns him is that branded content is by its nature very different to advertising. “The execution has to be very carefully done else it will trigger a negative reaction,” Singh pointed out.

“If viewers detect any attempt at advertising manipulation, it could lead to betrayal of trust. We as a brand always advocate subtlety and non-intrusion.”

It’s not as though Amul doesn’t have previous experience in content marketing – it once invested in a full-length feature film telling the fictionalised story of how the milk co-operative was founded. Manthan was subsequently entered in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Academy Awards.

“A film like that must satisfy the viewers’ primary requirement of being entertained, and after being satisfied if the viewers are hungry for more, then you can be sure your brand integration has not interfered with the entertainment quotient,” Singh observed.

Sourced from WARC