The first time I can remember of a brand sponsoring a web series was real estate online portal CommonFloor.com collaborating with content creator The Viral Fever’s (TVF) series “Permanent Roommates”.
The brand- web series friendship has come a long way from there. Permanent Roommates was one of a kind in the sense that there were no 30-second advertisements. To replace that format Commonfloor.com itself became a part of the story and continued its journey with the characters as the story evolved.
Of what I could make out while researching on web series branding is most brands tie up with web series to tap the want of the digital audience and provide their service accordingly.
Though in the nascent stage, advertisers are now learning how to handle the digital domain and many fruitful associations are on the rise.
When a brand collaborates with a web series, other than generating revenue it serves as a marketing tool for the platform. Promotion of the content automatically leads to the promotion of the platform
YRFs digital counterpart decided to get into web series realizing the potential of the future of entertainment across the globe. In one of their popular series “Bang Baaja Baarat”, Lakme got associated as the title sponsor. Lakme quite aptly realized that by sponsoring a series based on a wedding story, which is relatable to the young masses, it could nail its TG as well as strengthen the brand image on styling for weddings which is considered to be one of the most important part of a woman’s life.
Presented by Unlimited and sponsored by Maruti Suzuki Swift, “Tanlines” is another web series which has utilized this new mode of PR and branding. Maruti Suzuki Swift on the other hand could estimate its benefit tying up with the series in order to successfully target young viewers who have unhindered access to entertainment anywhere at all hours.
The Viral Fever who found this new style of collaboration extremely effective went on to follow the same pattern for its other shows. The key to making it successful however was to weave in the brand into the storyline which otherwise would stand out like a forced product placement they believed.
With “Permanent Roommates’ Season 2 they have paired up with Ola Cabs by making it an integral part of the storyline. Once Ola Cabs became the title sponsor of the second season, they wittily introduced a character named Purushottom Ji who is an Ola taxi driver in love with an Ola taxi named ‘Shabnam’.
TVF’s journey continued with Tata Motors’ hatchback car Tiago who partnered up on the road trip series “Tripling”.
‘Tripling’ is a unique travel series with three siblings taking a road trip together. It had made quite some noise even before the launch of the series. Tata Motors reportedly has paid around one million dollars for the mutually beneficial association.
The Viral Fever’s latest addition to the web series universe is Bisht Please! which has Neetu Bisht, portrayed by the TVF co-founder Nidhi Bisht, a girl who always lands up in trouble. An adorable loser who keeps yielding to the demands of her lunatic ex-boyfriend Donny, Neetu functions comfortably on the Bisht Please! Pause! Play! format dictated by her best friend. Snap deal has collaborated with the show not just by getting integrated into the episodes but also by introducing a merchandising line reflecting the protagonist’s aesthetics.
Earlier brands concentrated on the number of views they would get or unaware of the digital marketing space demand same metrics as that of TV. Now people in business are increasingly aware of the platform they are associating with.
They realise that if the content they are collaborating with is successful amongst its target audience it is far more impactful for them rather than looking at a direct conversion of their money into profit. Therefore, brands now are monitoring social conversations around the content and not just the brand.
Brands now are ready to pay between Rs. 5 lakh to Rs. 50 lakh for content, which is between 5 minute to 50 minute.
Brands have come to realize that digital content doesn’t come cheap and are comfortable with prices soaring up by 10 to 20 times.
While branding for a television show still involves a considerable amount of investment by the sponsor, web series are way more flexible. Here’s hoping we get to see many such interesting integrations in the near future bringing to us a plethora of entertaining web entertainment