Brand Makers

Social media influencer Dolly Singh: Don't be insensitive. Read the room

From weirdest brand collaboration requests, the much loved Colgate ad and authenticity within the creator community. Here's everything comedy content creator Dolly Singh had to say in an interview with Storyboard18.

By  Aashrey Baliga | Kashmeera SambamurthyJan 25, 2023 10:30 AM
Social media influencer Dolly Singh: Don't be insensitive. Read the room
Dolly Singh currently has 1.5 million followers on Instagram and almost 700 thousand subscribers on YouTube. There isn’t a video on YouTube or reel on Instagram of hers that hasn’t gone viral. She is one of the most loved influencers in the space today. (Image via Instagram - @dollysingh)

Content rules the internet today and content creators are the pillars of this much sought after medium. Social media has experienced immense unanticipated growth as a result of the forced digitisation due to the pandemic. Consumption of short form content is rapidly increasing. 15 second to 1 minute videos are becoming more and more popular amongst watchers.

Content creators have become the talk of the town. Some are even more popular than celebrities. Content creation can now be seen as a sustainable and dependable career prospect. This is because of the growth these creators have experienced. Prospective consumers are more likely to buy a product or service if they’ve heard about it from their favourite influencer rather than their favourite actor. They’re able to build trustworthy and emotional connections with their audiences as they are influential experts of their respective domains, be it tech, healthcare, beauty, sports, lifestyle, travel or comedy.

One influencer who has managed to carve herself a successful space in the over-cluttered comedy genre is Dolly Singh. She is known for her witty portrayals of various quirky characters and fun and hilarious sketch videos. Her social media presence has grown at the speed of light. She currently has 1.5 million followers on Instagram and almost 700 thousand subscribers on YouTube. There isn’t a video on YouTube or reel on Instagram of hers that hasn’t gone viral. She is one of the most loved influencers in the space today. Recently, she has also forayed into acting, having done a few commercials and TV shows such as Bhaag Beanie Bhaag and Modern Love Mumbai.

We, at Storyboard18 recently had a chance to talk to her about her journey as a content creator and actor. Read what she had to say.

What do you do when you get a brand collaboration request? What is on your checklist?

I generally say a No. Three to four years back, I started receiving Merch (merchandise) requests, and my initial responses were always a 'No'. I felt it to be too big to take a risk like that. I work as a single person team where I shoot, I write, and I edit.

When the collaboration on candles came around, I was overall in a better state of mind. I was doing well for myself, and thought that it was time to start learning how to delegate. Since I was shopping for the brand myself, I knew that the product was good. That is what made me say 'Yes'.

Moving on, what I am going to think about these collaborations is, understand them better. This is something that applies to brands I work with. Do I like the brand? Have I ever shopped from here? Do I like the product or not? This is important which helps one move to the next stage. Hopefully, I will start saying a 'Yes' and see how it goes.

What is the weirdest brand collaboration request you have ever received to date?

I had received a brand collaboration request for an underwear brand, whose name I cannot recollect. What was funny was the brand did not want me. They wanted my boyfriend to wear them and pose!

Have you said no to brand requests? If any, that you like to share?

I say ‘No’ to most brand requests all the time. But, there have been instances where I have said a ‘Yes’ initially, and then said a ‘No’. I remember collaborating with a moisturiser brand three to four years ago and it turns out, in the product detail, it was written ‘whitening’. I said ‘No’ to the campaign because I didn’t want to associate with a fairness beauty product.

Sometimes, a brand campaign does not go well with your ideologies. During the peak of Covid-19, there was a beverage brand who approached me to promote their drink. They said that they want to send me a carton of drinks. My answer to them was that they need not send a carton full of drinks. Even if I feature their brand in my video, I would use one or max two. At the same time, they are insensitive at a time when people are struggling for food, to find a place to stay etc. I called them out on this and highlighted that they should not be sending out cartons of drinks during such a grim period.

What is your advice to brand managers and agencies that approach you?

From my previous answer, “Don’t be insensitive. Read the room.” Make sure that your campaign is not exploiting anything. Even sending out a carton of drinks to an influencer is unsustainable. If people want to drink as many drinks, they can purchase them. One thing which I can probably suggest is to give the creator, the creative freedom. A lot of time, brands dictate a lot of things creators are supposed to do. As a creator, I feel that my job is to come up with a creative direction, give creative inputs, script a concept, and make a video of it. A lot of times, I think, brands don’t understand that, when you do an integration organically is what really works. Some of them want to make an ad. I personally think that should not be the way.

Creators enjoy it if they have a little bit of freedom and can work around it. It is a lot more beautiful as a process as well.

You are known for being that funny and witty creator on the internet. Does that come as a challenge when you have to take brand work?

Not really. It actually works to my advantage because that’s what my personality is on the Internet at least. Hence, the brands come for it. They ask for it all the time. In fact, sometimes when I talk like myself, brands ask me, “Can you make it funnier?”, “Can you make it weirder?” Which is really funny to see. So, I haven’t faced any issues like that. But, sometimes when I’m talking seriously, they do get confused if this is the same person we see on the internet because right now she sounds very serious. My personality is what I sell, my comedy is what I sell, my persona is what I sell. So at the end of the day I’m only benefiting from it.

You were featured in a Colgate India ad. It created a lot of chatter. All for good reasons. Can you share with us your experience working on the campaign?

I was nervous! It’s a big brand. It’s a big campaign. When they reached out to us, I was so surprised because I’ve always joked about it that I can do everything but never a toothpaste ad. When I saw it in my inbox, I was like ‘Wow! Really?’ The good thing was that in the beginning they didn’t take me on as an influencer. They had read some article I’d once featured in which spoke about diversity and having unique teeth.

First Published on Jan 25, 2023 12:38 AM