Insight: WARC and YouTube release “Brand-building at the speed of culture: The role of online video in Asia”

SINGAPORE — Online video is where culture is being cross-pollinated between brands, creators, fans, and viewers. Every minute, 300 hours of content are uploaded on YouTube¹. One billion hours of content are watched on the platform every day and watch time has grown by 60% in the past year. At a time of unprecedented change, online video has emerged as an opportunity for brands to stay in tune and contribute regularly to interpret and recreate culture.

“Brand-building at the speed of culture: The role of online video in Asia” is a new white paper released today by WARC, in partnership with YouTube, which looks at how brands can leverage culture to amplify their role in Asia’s online video landscape.

Providing key lessons for marketers, the report is derived from an analysis of the winners of YouTube Works 2020-2021 awards from across Asia, accompanied by industry insights and best practice from WARC.


Gautam Ramdurai, Head of YouTube Ads Marketing APAC, says: “We’ve partnered with WARC to understand how brands in the region have been keeping pace with shifting cultural trends and consumer behaviours to reach engaged customers on online video. In particular, we were curious to uncover common themes among winning YouTube Works campaigns and standout case studies across Asia.

“Our hope is to offer insights that all of us can use to be better brand builders, better content creators, and most of all, better storytellers.”

Gabey Goh, Asia Editor, WARC, added: “Not all stories are told through video but all videos tell a story. Leveraging online video as the medium to keep pace with the ever-shifting parameters of cultural trends has proven effective for many brands. The winning YouTube Works awards case studies outlined in this report from across Asia share a common thread: All are anchored by nuanced cultural insights powering a creative and well-told story, executed seamlessly using the features and power of digital media to its fullest potential.”

The key insights outlined in “Brand building at the speed of culture: The role of online video in Asia” are:

Pull cultural levers for emotional impact

Asia has a rich legacy of storytelling and success is dependent on how a brand story fits the cultural narrative and how well it resonates with the intended audience.

As seen with Kleenex Viva in Taiwan, brands should align with relevant subcultures to find new stories that entertain, resonate, and invite the community to share and amplify.

Leveraging humour in all its forms – from the absurd and irreverent, to wordplay, slapstick, and deadpan – is also an effective means to achieve an emotional connection and audience sharing. 21% of the winning case studies, including RC Cola in the Philippines and Delicare Ms in Japan, used humour.

Traditions, rituals, and festive celebrations have been reimagined digitally following COVID. Like Mondelez – Cadbury in India, marketers should explore the interplay between culture and technology to find new opportunities to reinvent rituals in a way that enriches audiences.

Take a new approach to building fame

Online personalities and creators who invest in building and strengthening the relationship with their highly engaged audiences, create opportunities for impactful brand collaborations.

Finding original, transparent and relatable ways to collaborate authentically with content creators is key, especially with Gen Z audiences, as seen by Bear Brand ImmD in Thailand.

Brands can leverage this insight and weave it intentionally into their brand building efforts. The study found that 27% of the winning case studies that used online video were able to evoke consumer participation.

Listening to fans and reacting quickly to current events and topics dominating conversations online can also be a powerful way of amplifying a brand’s message, such as Amazon Prime in India.

Activate purpose through community

A recent Kantar study showed that 31% of Asian consumers put a company’s positive impact on the community as among the top five most important brand attributes, whilst in WARC’s Marketer’s Toolkit 2021, 60% of marketers in Asia agree that brands need to take a stand on social issues.

For businesses, supporting the community and having a clearly articulated purpose are now critical to success, and these often require navigating local complexities and nuances.

Like Nike in Japan and Rexona (Unilever) in Indonesia, strong storytelling via online video can help marketers bring their brand purpose to life, promote inclusive activities, and cultivate positive habits.

To help brands leverage the power of online video for effective marketing, the whitepaper includes full chapter analysis, WARC Best Practice, YouTube Works jury views, and case study examples.

A complimentary copy of the report is available to download here.


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