Interview: Siddhant Narayan, OnePlus India on launching a new product during lockdown

Siddhant Narayan

Head of Marketing at OnePlus India, Siddhant Narayan, gets talking to Social Samosa about the recent unveiling of the OnePlus8 series and how social media played a major role in the product launch.

On the sidelines of OnePlus 8 series global product launch, Siddhant Narayan shares his two cents on how the company pulled off the unveiling on a global level in times of a pandemic through digital, AR innovation, and keeping the consumers and its community updated with social media engagement activities and more.

Excerpts:

How did you go about executing the global product launch, especially in these times of crisis?

With the growing anticipation around the OnePlus 8 series and in the absence of an on-ground event, we were presented an interesting opportunity to think differently and further enhance our engagement with users via digital platforms. This led to us hosting our first-ever global, virtual launch of the OnePlus 8 Series.

In order to pull off a successful event, over 2000 team members spread across different time zones worked together to be in sync with all developments;  all while being remotely connected. It was important for each of us to be flexible and adapt to evolving scenarios to deliver the best results. 

As Pete Lau had mentioned earlier, our launch date was pushed back three times out of concern for the current situation until we decided it was time to move forward with the hope for a better future.

How has social media been helpful in engaging with consumers? Which platform yielded maximum results? What was your social media marketing plan for the launch?

OnePlus has predominantly been a digital-first brand and that served as an advantage at a time where we could not host an on-ground event. We identified interesting digital formats and leveraged our owned channels like the OnePlus Forums and Red Cable Club as well as our social media platforms.

In the lead-up to the launch of the OnePlus 8 series, we unveiled our Hypertaskers campaign to celebrate our community, a generation that seamlessly switches between a diverse range of roles. The campaign focuses on engagement across digital and social media platforms and pays homage to the HyperTasker spirit of every OnePlus user.

Post the launch of our OnePlus 8 series, we created a digital initiative for our community to unbox the all-new OnePlus 8 series virtually using the innovative customized AR filters on Instagram which led to a highly positive brand engagement with our OnePlus community and consumers at large.

What was the thought behind the special AR unboxing of the OnePlus 8 series so users could experience the phone virtually and what was the response to it?

Following the launch of the OnePlus 8 series, we wanted to create a unique engagement for our users who were eager to discover the latest flagship. Given the limited options under the given circumstances, we curated a digital initiative for our community to unbox the all-new OnePlus 8 series virtually using the innovative customized AR filters on Instagram.

The results proved it to be a very positive brand engagement with 98 million impressions online. We also ran an online contest for the most creative AR unboxing ideas and received more than 1000 entries within 2 weeks.

As a company, how are you approaching COVID-19? How are you trying to help your consumers survive this difficult phase? 

We have always reiterated the importance of staying closely connected with the community and this did not change even under the current circumstances. In fact, we have used this time to strengthen our ties with the user base, and better understand their needs and expectations from the brand. We are constantly seeking means to curate meaningful content and experiences for them, especially now,  when we are all trying to navigate through a new normal.

For example, the recently launched OnePlus Domin8, was a PUBG MOBILE tournament for our community which allowed them to virtually interact with pro gamers and Indian cricketers and compete in a exhibition match series. For our Red Cable Club (RCC) members, we introduced ‘Summer of OnePlus’ which allowed them access to special activities and first-hand access to sales announcements, exclusive updates, contests, and much more.

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Through these interesting initiatives and even our simple campaigns like #IndoorsShotonOnePlus, we hope to reassure our users and let them know that we’re all in this together.

How does the team coordinate to execute the real-time marketing strategy? Please take us through your creative, communication & marketing team’s day to day hustle.

Our young team across OnePlus is constantly thinking of new, innovative ways to engage our audiences. They are also a part of the OnePlus community and have a sound understanding of the product and brand.

Additionally, the open and transparent work culture at OnePlus enables us to work together and collaborate more effectively across teams, hierarchies and even geographies as this enables a free-flowing exchange of ideas.

With the lockdown in place, an impact is bound to appear on the business front. What kind of impact are you looking at? How do you plan to deal with it?

The ongoing situation has impacted industries across the board. While there was an initial slowdown in smartphone manufacturing, with the recent government directives hinting at relaxation for the manufacturing sector, we are hopeful of an uptick in momentum. We have recently resumed manufacturing operations at our Noida facility, in compliance with Government regulations. As the situation eases, we are gradually resuming retail business in select locations, as per local government advisories. With commercial functions picking pace, we are confident of overcoming this situation and regain normalcy in due time.

Although we’re resuming business with an essential workforce, the health and wellbeing of our employees continue to be top priority. We will continue to monitor the situation and alter plans to ensure our employees stay healthy and safe.

3 things that the COVID-19 situation taught you in terms of marketing & advertising?

  1. The new norm that we all are living by at present is heavily focused on digital services. People are invariably spending more time with their gadgets- be it their smartphones or smart TVs. The ways in which people connect, consume, create, and compute have undergone considerable changes, and staying connected with consumers has never been more important than now. The current circumstances have only reinforced our focus on the community.
  2. Social media engagement has become a great source of engagement with our community, we constantly endeavor to create engaging and inspiring content like the #ShotOnOnePlus tutorials, #ShotOnOnePlu Indoor Academy.
  3. Even in these challenging times, we must always stay true to our brand DNA and focus on building authentic connections.

How do you see the industry shaping up in the post COVID world?

The new norm of today is based on increasing uptake of online services, thus making smartphones a more vital part of our lives as compared to earlier. It is that one device that enables you to seamlessly switch between work, entertainment, connecting with friends and family as well as purchasing essentials and digital transactions. With the numerous user benefits that it provides, we believe this trend will continue to prevail and we will see an accelerated demand with more markets opening up and restrictions being lifted. From a consumer experience POV, the O2O model will also start to come in play to provide seamless experiences.


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