Asiatic | Leading the Change in Digital Communication

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Digital transformation has become synonymous with business transformation. And with digital business transformation, of course, comes digital marketing transformation. At Asiatic MCL, the idea is to inhale inspiration and exhale innovation. The agency strongly believes in constant and continuous innovation to eliminate mundaneness and rediscover new perspectives to tell a story. Asiatic Marketing Communications Limited is the oldest and largest communication agency in Bangladesh. Since its inception in 1966 it has been working with the best of brands and has won the highest number of awards. The communication agency has indelibly paved the path as industry leaders and have etched the blueprint on which the future of digital marketing is being realized.

Interacting and Creating Dialogue

In the past, marketing was all about pushing the message to the market and waiting for the result. Nowadays it is all about interaction and dialogue.
Today’s Bangladeshi consumers are fast becoming active participants in an experience economy. The meteoric rise of smartphones has seen more and more people using them every day to help make decisions, find brands to buy from or learn more about a product. Now, more than ever, they are starting to value how they experience brands. That extends to both online and offline stores, as well as social media or other potential touchpoints along the way. With consumption patterns changing, marketing and PR agencies have had to transform themselves as well. Digitization has created not just hundreds but thousands of touch points where brands can engage with the Bangladeshi consumer. These days, customers jump from channel to channel when making a purchase. They’ll lookon websites, Facebook pages, search from mobile devices and compare prices across multiple apps.

The Change in Our Behavior

Agency teams now need to realign themselves to the changing needs of the end consumer to stay relevant. In fact, even the definition of ‘marketing’ is transforming. It is no longer a one to many, one-way advertisement but an omnichannel delivery for conversations, engagement and experience. This is a massive expansion of the traditional marketing and PR role, calling for more new approaches, greater technical, analytical and data marketing skills than ever before.
Agencies are having to learn to use customer analytics, predictive analytics, and customer experience mapping to deliver integrated experiences that are compelling, personalized, and consistent. They are also having to adapt and reinvent methods for absorbing, interpreting, and acting in the face of the avalanche of data being generated by customers. Whereas once significant effort had to be exerted to gain feedback from customers, however now agencies often find themselves struggling to absorb the feedback from user-generated content and social media channels.

Today, platforms like YouTube have enabled ’regular’ people to become incredibly influential. Companies no longer need to hire celebrities to endorse their products in order to get millions of people interested in their product or service. Ordinary people with no credentials other than droves of followers on social media have the ability to influence those simply by endorsing a certain product.

In short, digital transformation – the rise of the internet and digital technology, the impact of IoT and AI–has changed the way people behave. And this change is such that it literally drives into obsolete, the marketing and PR stratagems that used to exist before. Starting from the sharing of data and its analysis, to making campaigns more collaborative and engagement oriented, digital transformations have reinvented how companies can reach, connect and learn from their customers.

Digital Transformation is not a Technology, but a Mindset

In the naval world, it takes five miles for an aircraft carrier to turn itself around 180 degrees. While engaging in this ‘quick-turn’, the sea men on board need to hold on something solid because they’ll soon be tilting at a 30-degree angle.
Trying to run a business in a rapid digitally evolving world is very similar to this.
Clients are not always fully geared to make the difficult and rapid hard left required to align themselves with how the world has changed (and continues to change) digitally. This is often because many of the evolutions that come quickly through proper digitalization don’t come easily or cheaply. Thus, most clients, although aware that advanced “digitization” is necessary, still remain wary of the amount of restructuring and investment needed in order to achieve the same.
Thus, the biggest challenge that agencies at times face is in helping their partners realize that the ‘digital’ in ‘digital transformation’ is not a technology, but a mindset. Once that mindset is achieved, there is a natural progression towards a future-proofed, tech enabled culture designed for agility and digitalization.

Asiatic MCL works to End Child Marriage

In Bangladesh, adolescents, estimated at 31 million and nearly 20% of the population, face many challenges. In particular, 52% girls are married before 18 and 18% before 15 years impacting their health and potential. Drivers for child-marriage include underlying socio-cultural norms surrounding gender roles, chastity, perception of maturity, social security and low value of girls. These norms drive child-marriage despite legislation in place, and high awareness of it.
The Prime-Minister of Bangladesh has committed to end child-marriages by 2041; eliminating marriages <15 and reducing <18 marriage rates by one-third by 2021. Through efforts by the government and partners to ensure education and appropriate services for girls, the practice has been declining but not fast enough. Acceleration of efforts was required to achieve targets.

Asiatic MCL’s client, UNICEF, along with the government and other partners commissioned the ageny to develop a campaign that would help END CHILD MARRIAGE by inducing rapid shifts in social norms and attitudes around child-marriage and related adolescent issues.
The agency delved into the data gathered from national surveys (BDHS, MICS), commissioned research by various developmental and government agencies, stakeholder workshops, and community discussions; and proceeded to analyze it using theories such as social norms, diffusion of innovations and social learning.
The findings indicated that while decision-making around adolescent issues particularly child-marriage occurs within the family (parents), the immediate community plays the most vital role for supporting or resisting norms. When parents witness child-marriages persisting in their country and believe that their community expects them to marry off their daughters early, they are more likely to do so. Re-directing these perceptions thus became central to the campaign.
The core audience was the community at large including adolescents themselves, who in turn exert pressure and influence on parents. Through them the campaign worked to create reverse public pressure on parents to not get their daughters married early.

Creatively combating Child Marriage

In Bangladesh, weddings are communal events with great involvement of the community, be it a right age marriage or even a child marriage. Asiatic MCL’s campaign worked to reposition child marriage from being a ‘Celebration’ to a ‘Totally Unacceptable Offence’.
In a culture where any news or declaration is commonly announced with a traditional ‘Dhol’ drum to catch everybody’s attention, we decided to use the ‘Dhol’ drum as a campaign visual mnemonic.
The campaign slogan followed the age-old way of protest which is commonly used in political or other protest rallies. The slogan picked up the particular rhythm and core call to action words ‘Raise your voice’ of traditional protest slogans. With it, the ECM slogan says “Balyo biye rukhte holey, awaj tolo taley taley” means “Raise the beat to end child marriage’.
The campaign branding maintained three campaign properties – the protest beat, the ‘Dhol’ drum and a helpline number.
The first of the Public Service Announcement Series focused on fictional modelling of community disapproval and triggering widespread public unacceptability; and the following PSAs showcase real-life situations where ordinary citizens are taking a range of actions to end child-marriage and improve adolescent wellbeing.

The Campaign that Changed Minds

The outcome of the campaign was tremendous. The PSAs were shared by all the major news outlets as well as on their social media channels. 10 local TV stations have aired the PSAs for free (worth $ 170,920). 4 TV channels donated free broadcast time for the drama serial (worth $ 90,785). 20 radio channels are broadcasting PSAs for free. Social media has reached 233,638,306, 166,505,559 engagements and 156,971,275 views so far. The National Helpline number featured in the PSAs has generated 2200 – 2500 calls per day to the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs. A research led by BRAC University to assess campaign effectiveness, found 55.3% of respondents at baseline compared with 72.7% at midline indicated they had not seen any child marriages within their community in the past year.

Asiatic 3sixty’s most successful campaign/campaigns

Campaign One:

SKITTO- TOTALLY COOL SIM

Bangladesh’s first ever truly digital brand, Skitto needed to create greater affinity with the nation’s youth while educating them about the product’s benefits.
The launch of the “Totally Cool SIM” campaign managed to reach a whopping 76,300,518 people on Facebook and their ads have been viewed 296,229,606 times on Facebook alone! This enabled Asiatic to gain 1,409,063 post reactions along with 32,063 comments and 5,866 shares. The link ads on Facebook have been clicked 3,879,265 times. Their GDN ads were seen 117,531,201 times, it generated 2,394,482 clicks. On YouTube, they got 309,381 views and 11,359 clicks in total. And most importantly, their online SIM sales saw 28.78% increase!

Campaign Two:

SUNSILK HIJAB REFRESH

Being the leading brand Sunsilk identified above 30% of the women in Bangladesh now wear Hijabs as part of their belief. But, the heat and humidity of this region is harsher on their covered hair. Sunsilk girls are contemporary and optimistic. They continuously strive to follow their own passion and make their mark in the world and try to balance new possibilities and set pathways that have been pre-defined. With this changing circumstances their hair care needs have also evolved. Sunsilk too evolved and went through continuous innovation in their products to cater to their changing needs. Sunsilk believes that girls are to be left boundless and set to achieve as they wish while Sunsilk will keep catering to their needs in their journey of autonomy – thus lands to Sunsilk’s brand promise “Hair on your side”. As a brand that caters to everyone’s need, in 2018 Sunsilk stepped first to launch a range of formulated specially for those who wear Hijab as part of their belief
The agency translated the thoughts of the women of today’s time into a communication plan that is absolutely relevant and authentic for them. After extensive surveys done on the target groups, the agency tried to assemble their insights where they identified millennials are hard to reach through traditional channels only as they spend most of their time online to look for people who have the same mentality and have same preferences in life. They love the influencers they follow as they find similarity in their way of thinking and can relate to the problems & opportunities.
So the idea was to create a slightly non-traditional launch plan where they will first talk about their problems through the most hyped influencers of the time who are popular in digital media and create a buzz, and then launch the product with all other media necessary for a successful campaign.
Execution:

Sunsilk Hijab Refresh was launched in 3 different stages:

  • Stage 1- Pre-hype: Using the power of digital media, there was an organic need created through KOLs & influencers by discussing every frustration and agony of the girls who wear hijab and also only revealing something is coming, after influencers got gift basket from Sunsilk and asked not to say anything before using
  • Stage 2 – Launch: with the buzz created in social media and along with ATL, the trade launch was very successful. Also with the right e-commerce positioning, the sales shot up
  • Stage 3 – with proper presence in the digital media and engaging in Eid occasion just maintained the success of being launched properly.
    Result
  • The campaign was launched in 2018 and created a buzz in the market. There was a huge shift in the market share. Business case volume sold in 3 weeks and reached 130,000 outlets with stock replacement. Facebook: Reach: 1,965,068 Impressions: 10,293,832 Post Engagement: 924,552. Video (Trueview): Reach: 726,924 Impressions: 1,054,723 VTR: 27.69% Completion Rate: 26.02%

Committed to Agility, Productivity and Efficiency

Running a creative agency in a digitally enhanced world is a lot like trying to build a car while you’re driving it in a Formula One race. It’s never going to be an easy challenge. Add to it a COVID-19 pandemic, and we have an unprecedented business crisis. Over the last few months, we have seen conventional marketing practices becoming inadequate, consumer behaviors rapidly mutate and established communication channels become irrelevant. A major chunk of advertising revenue that previously came from TV, print and on ground activations has slowly either been replaced with virtual/digital activities or abandoned altogether.
As expected, such a sudden shift led to substantial revenue challenges across the industry.
However, while the industry as a whole has experienced a decline in revenues (especially from live sports and live entertainment events), there has been a marked increase in impressions from regular online video and connected social media platforms to compensate for the decline in other areas. Simply put, the type of content our audiences consume may have certainly changed as a result of social distancing, but the rate at which they consume will likely hold steady, or even increase.

As the largest communications solutions provider in town (not just in terms of size or business volume but also in terms of resources), Asiatic MCL has been committed to embracing agility, productivity and efficiency by boosting their in-house digital and content development capabilities. Over the last four years, they have trained themselves not just to leverage huge data sets, but also new technologies and media, all the while creating new strategies for cross-channel engagement. All of this has enabled them to meet the current challenges created by the pandemic.
In the end, as we enter the ‘new normal’, there are just as many opportunities as there are barriers. And while none of us know what tomorrow holds, the team at Asiatic are betting that their ability to adapt and reinvent themselves will help them build a brighter future for the entire industry.

Trends to watch out for in the Digital Marketing

Covid19 has reiterated the importance of having a more integrated approach in terms of communication. It has not only accelerated digital marketing as a safer and more effective way to reach the audience but has also propagated behavioral shifts that are here to stay. With increased exposure to apps and means of digital entertainment for individualistic consumption, a shift in marketing approach due to the growing availability of data can be forecasted not only globally but also here, in Bangladesh.

  1. Use of Data to Ensure ROI: with an increasing access to data and chances of influx in smartphone sales brands looking to spend their budget efficiently will move towards a more data-backed approach. Rather than going for a mass and catch-all approach, the advent of customization tools from digital giants like Facebook, YouTube and google brands are more likely to move to a more customized approach in terms of communication expenditure.
  2. Collaboration in Marketing: With service-based digital companies quickly acquiring more ground, we will see a lot more collaborative marketing. The symbiotic relationship seen during the pandemic has a strong possibility to stay, be it through content marketing or through cross platform promotion. This, especially for small and medium brands can become a way to minimize cost through a shared budget approach.
  3. Content Marketing on The Rise: With steady increase of online content consumption brands rather than traditional advertising tactic will be adopting marketing through contents for a more organic impression. A lot more brand owned content channels and brand sponsored contents are likely to be seen in the future.
  4. A More Adaptable Marketing: An omnichannel and adaptable approach to be seen during the upcoming days. With the uncertainty about normalization brands digitally and in other medias will be seen producing communication materials that can easily be adapted to resonate with the current scenario. Certain platforms are exponentially growing in Bangladesh which marketers can leverage from. We have already seen the effective uses of messaging apps along with other widely popular apps like bKash, Imo and Likee. As consumers spend a substantial amount of time in these apps, going forward recycling of existing assets to minimize both cost and production is likely to be seen.
  5. Rise in The Popularity of Conversational AI and Automation: During the coronavirus shutdown, one thing that took a major hit for all companies was customer service. A highly trained army of conversational AI bots ready to answer customer questions and keep their worlds moving has the attention of the world’s largest tech companies. From voice-controlled video collaboration to personal assistant on mobile devices to the chatbot helping with online shopping. At its 2020 GTC Conference, NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang made a massive bet on conversational AI with the launch of its Jarvis framework, by bringing latency in conversational AI to as little as 3ms while providing the possibility for things like 3D, Eye Contact and Lip Reading. With more advanced features and automation at a lesser cost brands are likely to make their shift towards a more automated digital customer service leaving only the specialized instances to human customer representatives.

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