The Pointless Viral That Was Kolaveri?

Kolaveri Viral

Imagine you running the social media properties of your brand/organization. One of your updates on Facebook or Twitter goes mega-viral and everybody’s bloody happy that your brand/company has got phenomenal global visibility. All good.

Next year, your company tanks, in revenues/profits. Of course, you can’t blame the mega-viral post for your company’s failure. But the point remains – mere visibility is not enough. Getting visibility was a tough task in earlier days when the media avenues were limited. These days, it is relatively easier. But the kind of things that may viral is also relatively lesser, with people exposed to a lot, currently, online.

Visibility has to lead to a business impact – it could be tangible or intangible. For example, it could lead to a positive perception about the brand (the theme of communication to garner visibility should include the brand’s personality, here), which in turn could lead to business impact. If it doesn’t then having mere visibility is utterly pointless.

Like Kolaveri Di.

It went mega-viral and people were counting YouTube views and writing case studies on it. All good? Doesn’t seem so.

Distributors in a ‘kolaveri’ after ‘3’ goes for a six (The Times of India)

Kolaveri Di

So, do those excited case studies of how Kolaveri went viral still stand? Of course, they do – but Kolaveri was a means to something, not the end. It could be the film’s success or may also be the ticket for Dhanush to get national-level stardom. He has been trying and has been tweeting about movies like Ranjhana and another with Bharatbala. Will he succeed? That depends entirely on what he is capable of. While he has proven to be more-than-capable in Tamil Nadu, a Kolaveri cannot proclaim that he can pull it off nationally.

Kolaveri was a movie promo, not the movie itself. Social media virality needs to be tuned towards the product’s/brand’s success – a viral video becoming viral (!) for the sake of it is largely pointless at the end of it – like the famous ‘15 minutes of fame‘ or ‘one-hit wonder‘.

Update #1: Considering a couple of questions on Twitter, when I cross-posted this blog, here’s an update with a few more perspectives.

1. Anirudh?

Anirudh is the composer of the film’s soundtrack. Besides Dhanush, he was also visible in the after-glow of Kolaveri. To be fair, he has proven that he is not a one-song wonder – the entire soundtrack of 3 is very good!

2. Old Spice viral

One of the best remembered virals of all time (in the limited life-time of virals, that is), is the Old Spice campaign. It not only gave visibility to the brand, but also sales! Yes, sales.

3. The product has to deliver, beyond the campaign

Like any advertising campaign, merely having a talked-about, buzz-worthy advertisement is not enough. It could be a peek into the product’s benefits, but the product has to deliver too! Here, the advertisement delivered, more-than-adequately. The film (the product) did not deliver. Can you blame the agency (advertising) for the product not delivering. Not entirely – but if the agency hasn’t thought through selling the final product and was looking myopically in selling only the promotion, then I guess they can indeed be blamed. Though, if the brief from the product’s owners was to merely go ga-ga online, you can’t blame the agency – they did deliver.

4. The one-line objective?

The article above clearly states that the film’s producer (Dhanush’s dad) made/recovered his money– it is only the distributors who lost money and are seen demanding a refund for the kind of exorbitant rates at which they bought the film. If the one-line objective of Kolaveri was ‘sell the movie at a profit’, then yes, the makers have got what they set out to. But in business (as in movies too), what really matters – the corporate making money or the consumers/customers of the corporate benefiting (in some way – even emotional; not necessarily in monetary ways)? If you go by the former, then it ignores the brand’s customers, which means they can’t pull off the same thing for another year or another time. The latter, I’d argue is the long-term advantage if you intend to be in business as a going concern.

In 3′s case, the producer has made the money, while his distributors and end-consumers (viewers) have lost money. Is it still a success? I have my doubts on this point, but I completely understand if you find even this level of success as a reasonable outcome of the Kolaveri viral.

Update #2: Prashanth Challapalli, head of Jack In The Box, who handled the viral, has a different point of view, which I think should be read in context of my blog post above.

Well as the guy who heads the digital outfit that did this viral campaign, I can only say that the objective of this campaign was not to promote the film but to promote the song. The client was not Dhanush or the producer. The client was Sony Music. And for a music label, the success of the song / album is primary. So I really don’t understand this post. I am very surprised that the writer who is a very respected Social Media expert has basically got the brief wrong as well as the objective of this campaign. If you want to know how this campaign was created and how it went on to become so big, please see this case study video –… The simple truth is that the song made truck loads of money for Sony Music via You Tube ads and mobile downloads. In an age where very few end up buying a music CD, a music label will give an arm and a leg to monetize a song this way.

This is a fair argument, I’d say. The only point I’d like to add is that this was not a Indipop song removed from filmi connections. This was a film song and I suppose Sony Music was doing its best in trying to monetize the content it had paid for. So, if you see it as a standalone song, it did achieve the objective set out by the client, Sony Music.

But, shouldn’t we see the damage done by the song, to the film’s prospects at all? The agency is definitely not to blame in that case, but one could possibly point to the film’s producer in allowing a completely unrelated viral to go berserk and release a film that was far removed from what the viral was about.

PS: You could well say it is easy to derive such lessons in hindsight. Yes, I agree, but, for whatever it is worth, I did ask this question during the first week of Kolaveri going viral (The larger question is, however, would people spend Rs.200+ just because they like a 5 minute song that they may have already seen/heard many times over?), in 2011, while the world was celebrating this song-wonder.

Original post here

Featured Image Courtesy- Sean MacEntee