The 'Hum Mein Hein Hero' campaign of HeroMotocorp, released on August 15 last year, became one of the most popular advertising jingles of 2011. The song composed by A.R. Rahman became a rage in no time and many YouTube users created their own videos with the Hero song as the background track.
Taking a leaf out of its online success, Hero, the world's biggest two-wheeler maker, is moving to the next phase of its campaign by stitching together videos shot by young people from different parts of India. The ad and media industry calls such content user-generated content.
The second phase of the Hero campaign - released around January 26, India's Republic Day - shows young people singing the song; well, without the audio. The Rahman track plays in the background.
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Rahul Nangia, chief creative officer, West and South, Law & Kenneth, who executed the campaign says: "We had called for entries from people to send in the videos they had prepared on this theme. All that people had to do was to sing and make it interesting and they had a chance to see themselves featuring in the television ad commercial."
Nangia believes the era of one-way communication between brands and consumers is over. Consumers will shape brands now going forward, he says. The second phase of the Hero campaign with user-generated content "is an attempt to make the consumer the centre of the entire communication process," he adds.
The Hero ad is targeted at males between the age of 18 and 34, and fall in the SEC A, B and C categories. SEC is short for socio-economic category, a metric based on incomes and education of consumer categories.
Hero MotoCorp's site has been worked upon to promote the campaign
"The company and we realised that the property had gone beyond the brand and the product. It had created a life of its own and therefore we thought that using user-generated content in the second leg of the campaign was a natural extension," explains Nangia.
Another television commercial that was centered around young consumers was Airtel's 'Har ek friend zaroori hota hai' campaign, created by Taproot India. The look-and-feel of the campaign, says Santosh Padhi, Taproot's co-founder and chief creative officer, was like it was user-generated but it was created by the agency.
Taproot next prepared a series of nearly 20 ad films that have been recently launched on the Airtel website to introduce its consumers to various quirky characters that embody different types of friends.
These include bhukkad
friend, tubelight friend, chipku
friend, status update friend, beep friend, dhinchak
friend, sharing friend, activist friend, LOL friend, fan friend, party friend, lazy friend, filmy friend, pakau
friend, subtitle friend, proxy friend, curious friend, music friend and despo friend.
"The series is an extension of the thematic brand campaign that we had initially created for Airtel last year," says Padhi.
Although the Hero campaign is a first of sorts in India, sourcing user-generated content for advertising has been popular internationally for a few years now.
Doritos, a popular snack brand owned by Pepsico, was first in the US that pulled in content from a crowd of consumers in 2006 for the Super Bowl in 2007. The Super Bowl is the championship game in the National Football League in the United States, the world's biggest advertising market; Super Bowl ad spots are generally the most expensive in the US.
Hero's user-generated content practice is being appreciated by one and all.
The Doritos contest, called Crash the Super Bowl, allowed consumers to create their own Doritos commercial. The general public was allowed to vote for their favorite of five finalists. The vote was so close that just before the 2007 game the company decided to run two of the top ads rather than just one. Both commercials finished high in ratings.Will the Hero experiment with user-generated content start off a trend in India?
"People have been attempting crowd sourcing in advertising. But, I would say it's not so much about the medium as much it is about the idea. Whether it becomes a trend depends on the idea and also depends on whether people are willing to participate. But, certainly crowd sourcing creative or user generated videos can be exploited well as today people have the necessary tools to create these content," adds Nangia.
With the distinction between traditional television and digital platforms blurring, says another expert, one way to measure whether a campaign is effective or not could be how many people in the audience targeted in a commercial participated in creating user generated content.
Screen-shot of the 'View all videos' page on Hero's site
Using the example of Kolaveri D
, the Tamil song that went viral on the Internet last year, Krishna Kumar, CEO of digital advertising agency Media2Win, says: "Today, there are no boundaries for video consumption. People know if you haven't seen it on TV, chances are that you will find it on digital for sure. Crowd sourcing is pretty common given the advent of social media. However, what is important to note is does the audience contribute as desired and especially for a brand communication. The Kolaveri D
film director Aishwarya Dhanush did not even ask for user versions but nevertheless many got created. So the metric of measurement is how many amongst the brand target group actually contributed".
The latest Hero campaign shows how a traditional platform like television can be used to initiate mass action and direct it to the growing digital platform, Kumar adds.
"Also what needs to be tested are situations when there are no contests. That's where India Against Corruption (IAC) succeeded. It was a cause that connected with most and hence went viral. They did not do video but managed to pull huge numbers socially," he says.