The new key visual – by Liwa’s Sagar Rege

Sagar Rege is the Director at Liwa Content. Driven

What does ‘branded content’ mean to you?
Content that serves a purpose in the consumer’s journey while letting them interact with a brand in their digital social environment is “branded content”. For branded content to be effective, it is imperative that it adds value to an individual’s perspective and experience.

How are you seeing demand for video content change?
I see brands wanting to produce content for content’s sake. It’s often knee-jerk to not feel left out. This is suboptimal. It is imperative to ensure a defined story or tone of voice for a brand – to illustrate what they stand for – and then walk that cause in a way that will add value to the interaction. Look at content strategy as a playground: consumers are at different levels of interaction with a product or service. Some are standing outside to observe and determine if this is the ground for them to engage in; some are inside wondering which ride to pick first; and other familiar participants are already playing and enjoying the space. A brand needs to produce content that speaks to the relevant audience without serving them material that is either too-basic or irrelevant.

How can brands balance long-term strategy with quick reactions to current events?
While a long-term strategy is based on human truth and insight, it is important for a brand to be nimble and react to current events to stay relevant. Having a proactive creative partner who can think on the go and produce effective communication is vital. It’s like having a partner who understands what you need, anticipates this and delivers it in times of crisis or turn of events.

How are budgets changing?
Budgets are always shrinking. What is essential is to understand the asset that needs to be created to see its purpose and the type of execution it needs. From a client perspective, to ensure there is clarity on these elements is absolutely critical. If not, an agency needs to have an expert on the medium (eg. film) who can ascertain what the best solution may be for producing that asset. It could be a film, an animation or a mixed media approach. All these take different skill sets to produce and are created at different price points. There is no such thing as a bargain when it comes to production – what you pay for is what you get.

If budgets are tightening at the same time as social media is necessitating faster reaction times and shorter timelines, how do you balance that triangular equation of cost and speed and quality?
This is where an expert in the medium makes a difference to ensure that the right asset is being produced to yield results. As an agency we always ensure this person is present in all the initial briefings, in addition to client servicing. I’ve walked into meetings where the client presents a film reference that was created for $500,000 and through the interaction we realise they have AED 50,000 to spend. In this case, to be able to manage expectations, educate the clients about the technicalities involved in producing such a piece and be able to propose alternative mediums is the only way to make things happen. If this process can be perfected, the right kind of content can be produced, and timelines arrested.

Sagar Rege, Director at Liwa Content. Driven

What trends do you expect to see in the video content market in the next couple of years?
Technology is playing a great role in video content production. We have done several interesting interactive projects out of our New York office. I see more of that happening in this region in times to come. While video content will be manufactured and commoditised even more than it is today, I see clients prioritising purpose and story over mere obsession with execution.

What can we expect to see next from Liwa?
As an agency we are result-focused and work closely with clients to assess how we can solve their business problems. We have moved out of the conventional advertising space to being more focused on asset delivery that addresses marketing issues. Building content libraries that educate consumers, inducing engagement in B2B and government causes, that has been the vanilla territory for agencies, and exploring how technology can be seamlessly integrated with video content to tell a story effectively and drive purpose.