(Anish Vasudevan in conversation with Sanjay Vasudeva, CEO, and founder at BuzzOne and Director at the TheDCOmpany during the two days National Consultation on Mapping Creative and Cultural Industry in India organized by Centre for Culture, Media & Governance)
Q: How has the domain of branding and marketing changed due to the influx of internet technologies and social media?
A: It has changed very rapidly and it has changed in a very big way. I’ve been in digital marketing for over 12 years now and I have seen it grow from a time when we had to tell people what internet can do for their businesses now, where businesses are already taking on digital before us telling them. So it is no more about selling digital to the market or to the brands. They understand the importance of it. Still, as compared to various other economies, India is slow on taking up digital. Medium and small businesses are just getting into it now. Digital is a space where every week there is a new technology coming up and we are seeing more and more brands accepting the fact that there are changes which are happening. For example, the business that we are in today is a fairly new phenomenon. If you see then it has been done in an organized manner for the last two-three years only. We do influencer marketing, which is part of social media marketing in the digital space. There is not even much hard sell required to sell influencer marketing, they understand the importance of it. Thus digital marketing in India has now taken quite deep roots now but still, brands are not spending as much money as they would spend in other economies. They are still very traditional in terms of how they use their media presence.
Q: A large section of the India creative industry is based on traditional arts and crafts, how do you think that such traditions can benefit from digital technologies?
A: The culture and society define what creativity is, right. So whether it is arts and crafts, it is there but it is taking a different shape, it is taking different manifestations now. If it is urban you will find that it is happening on social media. So people are expressing themselves creatively but they are doing it in very different ways, they are using memes, they are making small videos, posts on Instagram or doing dubsmashes or doing snapchats. So that is how people are using it creatively that way. So art and craft per se, if you are looking at it in a very traditional way, they are also using the internet to reach out to the masses.
Q: Social media has taken a beating in terms of public trust recently due to the various data related improprieties.
A: You see, for marketers, for policymakers it may have but for the general public I don’t think it has really impacted in any significant way.
Q: Do you think that a policy on creative industries should also deal with data security because many creative domains are becoming increasingly digitized?
A: Data security is definitely very important, now at what level this security is, we don’t know? We don’t know what is happening with the UIDs and the Aadhar, we don’t know where our data is going, so the leak can happen. We can’t say that the intentions of the people who are implementing these policies were bad. Everybody is blaming Facebook for using data and stuff, but Facebook is also providing technology for free usage for billions of people and if Facebook has to run its business it has to make money some way right? And Facebook’s data for advertisers is so important, it is making sure that whatever money is being spent on advertising is spent well. So at that level, I don’t think that Facebook has done anything wrong, leaks happened, there was a misuse of data which I think was not intended by or even by companies such as Facebook. But yes, at the same time they have to make sure that such leaks don’t happen and I’m sure that there will be policies and physical measures in place to make sure such things don’t happen again.
Q: Due to digital cultures being based on collaborative work and remix culture, do you think that the intellectual property laws currently in place need to be revisited while acknowledging these realities?
A: I don’t think you can enforce IP laws on the internet because it stifles creativity. So I don’t actually have an opinion about it. I would only suggest that such intellectual property laws which while safeguarding the first party while still having space for remix culture and collaborative work should be looked at with extreme urgency.