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Is the mass hysteria of trending formats killing creativity?

Gozoop’s Amyn Ghadiali makes a pertinent point as he writes about how aping of content in the name of trending formats completely goes against the very principle of real time or, what most of us mistakenly call moment marketing.

Every night I’m faced with a dilemma: Should I hysterically follow the herd and allow my brands to ape trending formats? Or should I do something so creative that it will organically trend on its own? Or probably take the format itself and give it a new twist?

The answer might seem obvious to those of you reading, but the reality will surprise you.

Now, the first question is, what’s a trending format? It’s that thing you see every single time you open Instagram, where it seems like different brands are posting the exact same content. If you’re anything like me, chances are that you’re also sick of seeing brands Ctrl C + Ctrl V their creativity.

This aping of content completely goes against the very principle of real time or, what most of us mistakenly call moment marketing, which leads us to our second question – What is this form of marketing?

Let’s take a moment to understand moment marketing.

The entire concept, on social, started or gained momentum with the iconic Oreo tweet during the 2013 SuperBowl blackout. A simple tweet, stating that an Oreo could still be dunked in the dark, was so impactful that it created more chatter than million dollar advertisements could.

This milestone in the history of marketing showed the entire world that if you could connect your brand to an important ongoing event, in an authentic way, no one was going to forget your name. And for the initial years, that was truly what moment marketing was all about. In-fact there was an agency in the US that only specialized in this form of marketing by listening to millions of conversation online.

Brands used to only latch onto moments when they felt that it had an authentic connect with their brand. Nothing was forced, nothing was too in your face and everything had an element of creativity behind it.

Closer to home, it was Amul that introduced moment marketing in India, when man was just a social animal as opposed to a social media animal. To this date, they are so relevant at talking about topicals in a witty way, that I actively seek their billboards to know their take on a trending topic.

But the scenario today has changed significantly. When I look around, I see that brands are just aping formats off one another or are simply tailoring formats found on Fake Ad Co, by putting in minimal effort.

To give you some context, let’s talk about a format that trended recently. #JustLikeThat take a look at the pictures below and see if you can identify what industry they belong to.

The answer is that they belong to the retail, insurance and real estate industries, respectively. Were you able to make that distinction? Was there anything in the copies that gave a small hint about the nature of the brand?

It saddens me to say that the answer is no.

An ‘aping culture’ has taken over the industry because of which brands are forgetting that they need to stand apart at least, if not stand out. What they are doing instead is simply blending in. And that’s not what marketing is all about.

And the really sad part is that it’s not that difficult to stand out, if one just decides to be a little smart about it.

Just look at the case of the #100YearChallenege done by Taj. While other brands were buying into the #10YearChallenege, Taj saw an opportunity to make a meaningful brand connect and completely changed the conversation online.

Fevicol managed to link ‘Game of Thrones’ with its very own logo, creating an unforgettable brand message in the process. During ‘Gully Boy’ promotions, Mumbai Police changed the game with its ‘Mar Jayega Tu’ meme, by making an unlikely connection that was so unexpected that it became iconic.

Making such unexpected connections is what will help brands break away from the clutter that exists online. The way to win the consumers attention isn’t to seem to understand pop culture, but to actually understand your brand, inside out, and to decide to act at the right moment.

If this trend of mass hysteria continues, fatigue is bound to set in. All copying and no creativity will surely make Jack a dull creator. Marketers and customers alike are going to get bored of seeing the same thing on their screens. It is our responsibility, as brand custodians, to make our brands voice unique.

It’s in our hands now. So let’s change the trend by changing the trend?

(Amyn Ghadiali, Director - Strategy, Gozoop, is a digital marketing wizard and advertising enthusiast. With a career span of over 8 years, he specialises in web strategies, integrated marketing initiatives and social media strategies across B2B and B2C domains.)


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