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Arun Mehra, CEO, Talenthouse India, is an Entertainment Industry veteran with over 18 years of experience spanning O&M, MTV, BCCL and Reliance Entertainment. Mehra’s last stint was with Zapak as ‘Chief Operating Officer’. As a COO he drove revenues by working closely with brands like AXE, Pepsi, P&G, Gillette, Sony Erickson etc. to name a few. He had been the pivot in engaging over 100 brands across country in unique business properties. He co-founded Zapak.com (India’s Largest Causal Gaming Portal) in November 2005 as ‘Chief Marketing Officer’. As CMO he initiated and executed highly engaging gaming properties like ‘Adver Gaming’, ‘India Gaming Championship’ and ‘World Gaming Day’. His contributions and dedication to the company had helped make Zapak a rage amongst the youth.
Talenthouse India, a Joint venture between Talenthouse US and Reliance Big Entertainment Pvt Ltd., is the largest platform for creative collaboration. Embracing artists at all levels, Talenthouse India aims bring alive any and every creative spark by providing life-changing opportunities for the creative community. By connecting with artists across films, fashion, music, photography and art, Talenthouse India works with well known brands and industry mentors to create collaborative projects. Leading artists and brands, gain recognition and virally grow their audience/fans through such projects. Whether you are an artist, looking for an opportunity to showcase your potential, or you are a brand, looking for media content to grow your fan base, we invite you to come, collaborate with us and grow your influence. The Talenthouse India team is located in Mumbai.
Replying to Anil Mascarenhas of IIFL, Arun Mehra says, “Crowd sourcing enables a marketer to understand what the audience perceives about a brand.”
Crowdsourcing appears to be the buzzword these days though it’s a pretty ancient strategy. Oxford Dictionary used it centuries ago and even the Government of India realized its potential and chose this option for the rupee symbol. What has led to many corporate adopting this strategy now?
Early 2000 saw the emergence of Digital media with brands opting for web presence through websites. In 2009 brands plunged into Social Media. Since, then there has been a wave in the social media front.
With the brand population increasing drastically on social media, consumers are spoilt with choices and loyalty is highly on the decline. Brands are finding it extremely difficult to connect and create a separate space to reside in consumer’s minds.
This has led to the era of crowdsourcing which emerged out of the sheer need to bring about innovation in this space. Crowdsourcing enables brands to involve and engage their consumers thereby staying top of mind with high recognition and recall.
Globally, companies are using crowdsourcing across industries. Even several advertising agencies have begun to embrace crowdsourcing platforms. They are using it for various purposes from product development and packaging to brand communication and engagement.
In India, besides Crowdsourcing the Rupee Symbol by the Indian Government, such large scale consumer involvement has not yet been undertaken. Brands have now opened up to consumer generated content on smaller scale through crowdsourcing platform and social media & this trend will only gain momentum in the coming years as they start realising the power of the crowd.
There is a danger that this may be a fad. Also there could be a problem of plenty? How do you address this situation?
Business and industries evolve so did digital and social media. Crowdsourcing has been adopted by marketers as an extension to social media to add innovation in this space.
The response to Crowdsourcing has been positive and we see a positive trend. Crowdsourcing is here to stay as long as digital and content forms an integral part of marketing and communications.
Also having more players in this segment is not viewed by us as a problem it will only help in establishing the Crowdsourcing industry as there is place for all.
Explain to us your business model. How do you help in effective crowdsourcing?
Talenthouse India is a brand driven platform, wherein brands pay for the services used. Talenthouse provides brands an opportunity to connect with their target audience through the registered artist on Talenthouse, social media, college contact programs, activations etc.
Tell us about some of the interesting engagements you have had for your clients.
ETC the most credible Bollywood trade channel wanted to take up an initiative that would best represent them in the industry. Talenthouse proposed an Ant-piracy initiative – ‘Bollywood Thanks You’ to bring about awareness and thereby an end to piracy. We invite young Indian filmmakers who are all a part of the entertainment industry to create 30 sec films to bring forth a strong message. ETC selected 10 films from all over India to showcase them across BIG and FUN Cinemas.
Is cost-benefit one of the major attractions? Roughly, what would be the difference?
Today there exists Creative Crowdsourcing platforms like Talenthouse which enables brands to engage but also obtain creative insights from the very audience at a low cost. While Talenthouse functions in the creative space it provides what a traditional agency cannot. e.g. the new punch logo that Micromax uses today was Crowdsourced on Talenthouse and was selected from 2500 entries. This shows that while a traditional agency provides maximum 10 options a Crowdsourced campaign can generate best of the ideas at a fraction of a cost.
Cite some of the activities that Brands use Talenthouse. Name some of the prominent brands you work with.
Some of the most prominent work involves:
‘Art Beats’ showcase artwork at the India Design 2014 event at Delhi
‘Spot Light’ Film those spots in your home that have been lovingly created for you by someone special
AnuragKashyap Films Pvt. Ltd:
‘One Minute Film Project’ Recreate an Anurag Kashyap film in a minute.
Jameson Empire Awards ‘ Done in 60 secs’
Film an existing Hollywood Film in Sixty Seconds
Animate the Karbonn start-up screen
Creative messages to be used in the product packaging
Remix the iconic jingle “Jab ghar ki rounak badhani ho…”
Kala Ghoda Arts Festival
Create a short film on the theme Chase
What are the expanding horizons of creative crowdsourcing?
At Talenthouse India as Crowdsourcing experts we are working towards building a short format content division to enable brands to take advantage of the available talent and provide new content for their digital properties.
Explain what role social media is playing in crowdsourcing. Which are the platforms you engage with for your clients?
A large number of audience particularly youth are on social media today. It is the right platform to tap consumers for large scale activities. Social media compliments Crowdsourcing for this reason wherein reaching out to a larger audience is made possible through laser targeting approach.
The need to get viral results in a lot of social media buying etc. Do you think this will harm the brands or products are many users may not be genuine after all?
Today the aim of a marketer is not just to get followers, likes etc. it’s about undertaking destructive innovation and leaving the consumers talking and getting them to transform into brand advocates. Popularity of viral videos emerged from this thought but virality all depends on the quality of work and cannot be predicted and planned every time.
What are the triggers that are boosting or will further boost crowdsourcing?
The need for content on the digital space and to accomplish the same, the need for innovation will boost crowdsourcing.
Would you agree that quality could suffer in crowdsourcing though ideas may come in plenty?
Getting quantity ideas is a good problem to have. A brand has platforms like Talenthouse with dedicated team to monitor the large number of ideas which results in quality. Crowdsourcing enables a marketer to understand what the audience perceives about a brand.
What kind of tie-ups do you have in place for increasing crowdsourcing for your clients?
Talenthouse has entered into strategic partnership with creative institutes. This partnership works in two ways it ensures we receive quality entries for the brands. For the students it acts as an opportunity to work with renowned brands and get acclaim for their work.
How many companies have taken to crowdsourcing in India? How are ad agencies reacting to this?
Talenthouse India in its first year of operations i.e. 2011 – 2012 saw 20+ brands working with us and today we have launched 65+ projects in total. With the concept of crowdsourcing picking up we have witnessed brands and agencies embracing it. We grew exponentially and aim to do so in the coming year as well with the support of the industry.
Ad agencies take a longer time to warm up to a concept till it reaches a critical mass. Even when digital marketing started, agencies with the exception of WPP did not take up to it. Now that they have understood the potential, Agencies have acquired small digital companies and even opened separate digital offshoots.
Crowdsourcing needs a mind-set change. New mediums like digital and social media have put brands in a position where they must create and distribute content that traditional processes can no longer accommodate they need new tools and processes to meet this demand.
We are likely to see a bigger shift as far as media is concerned and at Talenthouse we can't wait to be a part of the revolution as ultimately brands and agencies will reach wherever the audience is.
How many of your clients are from outside India? Is there a keen interest in Indian talent in this space? When it comes to ideas, there are cases where agencies are accused of ripping off some stuff from international ideas.
Talenthouse headquarters are located in Palo Alto, California, USA with offices in Los Angeles, New York and London and India.
While Talenthouse is an international platform which means an artist from any part of the world can participate. The business i.e. brands or celebrity artist is region specific.
We do extend interesting international projects to the India platform and had Indian artist qualifying e.g. When guitar legend, Eric Clapton, recently invited a guitar symphony to his enduringly popular hit ‘Cocaine’, he personally liked the entries of Indian artist, Harish Chandra and Akshay Chowdhry.
Besides ads, do you see crowdsourcing increasingly being adopted in music and cinema?
Crowdsourcing is popular across film, fashion, music, art, design and photography. These easy to participate projects make crowdsourcing viable for brands.
What is the arrangement you have with Reliance Big Entertainment. How is revenue/profit sharing done? / Brief us about your financials. What is the shareholding pattern of yourcompany?
In India Talenthouse has formed a Joint Venture with Reliance BIG Entertainment. With Reliance holding 70% stake in the company.
Any plans to sell stake?
I cannot comment on the same.