Overheard at the Vice Provocative Dinner

Overheard: Vice dinner

Clients are still briefing agencies, asking for “viral videos”.

Also, clients still believe digital means cheap/free.

Meanwhile, desperate inventory owners are crashing CPMs, further compounding the problem.

Most of today’s digital influencers don’t have any credibility or heft, they just have a faux metric of followers. The Sarpanch (village chieftain) was the original influencer, by virtue of their position as the leader of the community.

Content doesn’t necessarily have to be digital.

A book put out by a brand, that predisposes prospects and clients favourably towards it, is also good content.

An installation outside the airport can also count as content, again, if it gets prospects thinking about the brand while they wait interminably in terminal 2.

Google Maps’ City Guides is a great example of content that echoes the brand promise, nay it actually extends the product delivery.

However, Red Bull’s Music Academy or F1 team may reinforce the brand’s position, but whether it does anything for the business was not as clear.

Leveraging speaker opportunities to put out a brand’s point of view strongly can lead to a virtuous cycle of positive brand perception generating more speaker opportunities and so on.

Foodporn can be content that gets Human Resources Officers to make time for meetings with food services providers, when all else fails. (Did I hear this right, I wonder).

But for me, a discussion on Dabbu Uncle’s viral dance video and his speedy appropriation by Indian reality TV as well as any number of brands aspiring to overnight fame was the highlight of the evening at this Provocative Dinner. (For the uninitiated yet interested, please do click the link to watch the all too brief video that has scored millions of views in a matter of days).

I say highlight because the guest speaker for the evening was Chanpreet Arora, CEO Vice India, and the provocation for the evening was whether brands were killing their content.

The tone was set early in the evening, where participants agreed on the importance of authenticity and honesty, for everything purporting to represent the brand.

There was an aside about how it was the ad agency’s job to help clients with “everything else” they wanted to do with their brands and this certainly gave us pause. The notion that advertising could lie, but content should not, was worthy of a far longer debate than we had time for that evening.


By Karthi Marshan, Head Marketing, Kotak Mahindra Group