It was fun, insightful and a long eventful day at the MTV Youth Marketing Forum 2012 held recently in Mumbai. Madhumitha Srinivasan picks the highlights…
If you were a part of a brand that sells products to youngsters, somebody who worked with youngsters, or a youngster wanting to know how consumer giants see you, a curious learner or just somebody with lots of free time on a Friday, then the MTV Youth Marketing Forum 2012 was the place to be.
The aim was to “explore the power exuded by the youth and the strategies deployed by the marketing gurus across the world to harness this youth power”. For this purpose MTV had flown in experts from across the world and brands — Henri Holm from Rovio Entertainment Ltd (the makers of Angry Bird), author Chetan Bhagat, Simon Smith of Interbrand, Andy Ridley, co-founder Earth Hour and Angela Barkan of Sony Music Entertainment, besides others.
The Cyrus Broacha show
The one man who held the show together and injected the trademark MTV quirkiness to what would have otherwise been a long serious day was funny man Cyrus Boracha. Here are some Cyrus gems:
“Since all our original speakers couldn't make it, we found four foreigners staying at the hotel to make do with.”
“Come on! You all paid good money for this, so you better ask some questions!”
“Owing to a budget cut, the caterers are making money serving a wedding party, so lunch will be delayed.”
“As the camera pans across the room to project your faces on the screen, kindly refrain from digging your noses.”
“Introducing the Vikram Malhotra, COO Viacom 18 Motion Pictures; also Vicky Donor by night!”
“MTV; we are the people known for our ads and very little music.”
Just as you though Cyrus was to be the only “entertainment” at the event, there was Sorabh Pant making things ranging from CSK's team name, the desi GPS system and Chinese accents the butt of his jokes. Unfortunately, he earned only a few laughs from a hungry audience as his act was scheduled right before lunch. Meanwhile, MTV VJ & actor Ayushman Khurrana of “Vicky Donor” surprised the audience by rendering a song from his movie earning himself more brownie points from the girls in the audience.
No-more-chocolate-boy Imran Khan was the apple of the media's eye. His session towards the end of the day saw camera men and photographers descend on the venue from nowhere. He seemed to match his answers to his bearded serious face. “He's become quite the diplomat!” exclaimed one journalist after the interview with MTV VJ Anusha Dandekar on “how films are pushing creative boundaries and how youth icons are constantly reinventing themselves.” By the way, Imran's red Ferrari was another attraction at the event.
There was a panel discussion featuring a versatile mix: director Bijoy Nambiar of “Shaitan” fame; actor Ayushman Khurrana; Avinash Pant, Marketing Head, Nike India; Sumeet Pahwa, DGM, Marketing, TATA Docomo; Vikram Malhotra, COO Viacom 18 Motion Pictures.
Mediated by Sunburn Music Festival co-founder and popular DJ/VJ Nikhil Chinappa, the discussion swung from getting ideas heard, use of social media and frustration at being rejected to why top management should take time off to listen to those lower in the hierarchy, even interns! “We were having a discussion about a certain product/idea for youngsters and suddenly realised: ‘Who among us is below age 35?'” said Avinash Pant, highlighting the reality behind many a corporate decision.
The MTV Youth Marketing Forum 2012 was all about the “Power of One”; the one who does not see the actor as his idol, the one who trusts his friends more than he does the marketer, the one who believes he can change the world, the one who is connected to millions of people across the world — known and unknown, the one who defines himself by what he shares online and the one who matters the most today — the youth.
One for the world
While most of us have been in the dark for an hour in keeping with the Earth Hour's Lights Off initiative, little do we know that it was the idea of one man started as a local campaign in Sydney. Now it's observed across 152 countries and territories — 6926 cities and towns, with over 194 million people connected globally for the campaign.
While there are campaigns aimed at those who really care and those who really don't, a large proportion of people fall in the in-between category. Andy Ridley, Co-founder, Earth Hour, said that he wanted to do something that touched this large group. “There are no votes for environment,” is a response from politicians, he said.
According to Ridley, the Light Out campaign is a symbol to show that people care and a way of doing something for the earth. “Earlier, campaigns were based on fear. But now the idea is to create hope.”
While it is a global campaign, the motive can be local. While in China the Earth Hour is about air quality, in South America it is about the Amazon rainforest. Andy Ridley's session threw light on how a simple idea can impact the world, just through connectivity, courtesy the social media.
The writer rules
“I have been invited to deliver talks for the army, for doctors and as replacement for lunch!” The audience could not have asked for a better replacement than “Paperback King” Chetan Bhagat. He should think of adding “stand up comedian” to his “CB Bubble” that already has books, films, columns, talks, social network and e-commerce; I am not being sarcastic.
“I think saying you were involved in the 2G scam is more respectable than a toilet scam!”
“When I mention in my profile ‘Househusband (2006 to present)', people ask me what bank is that?!”
“Why do my books work? Because of God, luck and my stunning good looks!”
But the jokes apart, Chetan's talk at the forum highlighted his struggle as a banker trying to get his work read by publishing houses, his diversification into social commentary and films and why people take him too seriously. In fact, he started by playing a video in which Era Pandey talks about Chetan Bhagat, his books and his crafty marketing techniques.
Answering a question from the audience, Chetan Bhagat said that people, especially youngsters, have become more cynical and negative because they are used to being let down by people they look up to. So it is but natural for them to not trust their leaders and not expect much from them, he felt.
“Why my books work is because of the tight plots, humour, simple English, relatable plots and characters.” These are what made his session a hit too at the forum and earned him many a fan.
Angela Barkan, Senior Director of Marketing and Publicity at Sony Music Entertainment, spruced up her presentation on the millennials (youngsters aged between 12 to 30 years), talking about how to be connected with the fans is an important agenda for artists all over the world. She highlighted this point by playing Garbage's I Hate Love, a song that featured art work sent in by their fans on their request. The secret to gaing lifelong fans, she said, was collaboration with them supported by a two-way communication.
If Angela made her points using music videos; Simon Smith, Eurpoean Digital Director, Interbrand, made his with videos of experiments on human psychology. One startling find, he said, was that people are more conforming now than they were in 1963 when the Stanley Milgram experiment was conducted. So much so that they would go to the extent of killing just to conform! Where does marketing feature here? Just think of the number of people who would splurge on a Prade or Gucci that they do not really need just to “conform”.
Keywords: MTV Youth Marketing Forum 2012