Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Storyboard18 - 2022 - Definitely, maybe: Crypto craze, creator vs celebrities, and the 'hybrid continuum'

Predictions are a risky business. But we're bravely venturing again to list the many ways things will change in the future. In these articles, we have industry leaders and experts trying to future-gaze and capture the transformative and disruptive ideas and trends that will 'change everything as we know it' (or not). In 2022, definitely, maybe

Published: Dec 30, 2021 06:34:33 PM IST
Updated: Dec 30, 2021 06:48:48 PM IST

Marketing investments are skewing towards an agile, data-driven world of sustenance than that of realising a dream that has long term dividends; Image: Shutterstock

It is the holiday season and most of you dear readers are probably snuggled in your living room and reading this during a break from some binge-watch. So, if we are going to crystal-ball gaze, we might as well do it with an entertainment theme—quotes from our favourite characters. After all, if 2022 plans to be anything like the last two years, we do have to suspend our disbelief.

“Aana vedhai, naan pottathu” (but the seed was sown by me)

In one of the most iconic scenes of Indian cinema from the Tamil film ‘Thevar Magan’, Shivaji Ganesan’s character tells his son how it doesn’t matter if the generations that follow reap the benefits of his efforts as a leader. It will forever be ‘he’ who sowed the seeds of development. The story of crypto is somewhat like that in India. These next couple of years will probably decide for an entire generation whether India will embrace the reality of a decentralised sub-economy or not. My prediction is not very bullish as clearly the current sentiment at the centre is the opposite of the spirit of decentralisation. As regulation is directly proportional to growth, I feel in 2022, crypto might probably remain unregulated, if not entirely banned.

“Say hello to my little friend!”

…screams ‘Scarface’ Tony Montana (Al Pacino) as his automatic gun blows up a handful of men trying to break in through his door. The M16 is not the largest weapon ever but does pack a punch—much like talk radio aka podcasts in India. At last count, there were probably over 50,000 podcasts from India and the overall monthly active audience for this medium is over 25 million people, even by most conservative estimates. Not exactly the kind of volumes one is used to on short video platforms (more like where Facebook was a decade back). But the reason why this packs a punch is the quality of this engagement. This is probably the cream of the digital population. The loyalty and habitual nature of this engagement are stronger than anything else and that is reflecting in the extremely high levels of unaided brand recall on podcasts. My prediction is that 2022 will be the year when many premium brands will build long term content IPs and audience bases on podcasts.

“Kabhi kabhi lagta hai apun hi bhagwan hai”

Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s Ganesh Gaitonde reflects in the ‘Sacred Games’ in a moment of pure narcissism. This Jehovah complex is also at the core of the belief that celebrity advertising is the best way to build credibility and saliency quickly. The lockdown was proof that the loyalty of gen-next is as strong, if not stronger, with individual creators than with film stars or cricketers. This is especially true in Tier II and III towns. Today a regional YouTuber is likely to attract a higher attendance when they go live than most Bollywood stars for a movie promotion. I feel we are probably at the peak value for celeb advertising and 2022-23 is when the premium will start dipping.

"I Believe What Doesn't Kill You Simply Makes You... Stranger."

Says Heath Ledger’s Joker in the iconic The Dark Knight. Christopher Nolan often uses the character as a vehicle to convey an unpopular or inconvenient opinion that is also true. In the early months of the lockdown, ‘new normal’ was a highly cliched phrase. A year and a half down the line, it is clear what that norm is likely to be, and in my opinion, it is a ‘hybrid continuum’. Pandemic or no pandemic, I feel we have reached a space where almost all activities will exist in multiple states at the same time. Whether working/studying from home or the office/college; creating art in the metaverse or the physical world; content creation in isolation or with a crew, and collaborations virtually or in person, the hybrid nature of the human activity will be a constant and technology will evolve to make these dual worlds more seamless.

‘Mere Karan Arjun aayenge’(?)

A resolute Rakhi tells Amrish Puri as blood brightly dribbles over her jaw. The question mark though is entirely my addition as I don’t share her optimism anymore. The last two years have been a lesson for us all on the Keynesian principle that ‘in the long term we are all dead’. The result is that the premium on current value will completely supersede future promise. Not to oversimplify human nature, but one can certainly see that marketing investments are skewing towards an agile, data-driven world of sustenance than that of realising a dream that has long term dividends.

Karthik Nagarajan is chief content officer, Wavemaker India and head - branded content, GroupM India. Views expressed are personal.