[Campaign Review] MS Dhoni: The Untold Story hitting sixes over social media

The campaign review goes behind the movie marketing strategy of MS Dhoni: The Untold Story on social media.
Once upon a time, a man with his bat, a digit ‘7’ on his back and a conscientious vision rephrased the history of this cricket besotted nation, breathing his dream with a million others. Rousing the world to dream big, he imparted some life-transforming wisdom, “Till the full stop does not come, the sentence is not complete,” and now it’s time to complete the sentences, to narrate a tale of captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni that is yet within wraps.

Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput absorbing and masking the guise of the cricketer, filmmaker Neeraj Pandey’s biographic MS Dhoni: The Untold Story is all prepped to hit the theaters today. Considering the roaring buzz around the film, Social Samosa scrutinizes the social media trail of this movie, tweaking the movie marketing trends set by yet another piece of art.

The social media journey of MS Dhoni: The Untold Story

As the drill suggests, every social media voyage embarks with a personage handle, breaking the structure right at its foundation, the promotion of this movie was taken upon through the official handles of both the reel and real MS Dhoni and Fox Star Hindi.

Concentrating their content on Fox Star Hindi’s page, they revolved the script around the life of the star, thoroughly assembled for engagement and building interaction with the omnipresent fans. Intermingling the content of Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hi Mushkil and Neeraj Pandey’s MS Dhoni: The Untold Story, Fox Star Hindi ran multiple contests, blogs complimenting the theme of the film and short videos giving quirky glimpses.

The release of the official trailer garnered 21,652,403 views till date on YouTube while on Facebook the Fox Star Hindi page received 21k views, received 1.8k positive reactions.

Biopic or not, Bollywood is deficient without songs, so after taking the first step with the trailer, the page eventually introduced the various movie songs. But the underline of all the promotional social media activities was the presence of the man himself, Dhoni.

The song release was not ordinary, much like this movie which followed a typical format of sharing illustrations with lyrics, unlike most movie marketing strategies who release the song or bits of the song, through a video usually.

The page imbibed the exercise of taking their viewers on a recap and putting on their screens the iconic moments from Dhoni’s professional life.

Have you seen celebrities producing independent short films solely for the purpose of social media promotions? Through these series of films capturing candid conversations between Dhoni and Sushant Singh Rajput, this film sets a new trend and definitely earning brownie points.

Let’s compare, for all the times when sports related movies or biopics were scripted, the involvement of the real star has been minimum. Mary Kom, Milkha Singh or for that matter Indian wrestlers were not as involved in promotional activities for the movies like Mary Kom played by Priyanka Chopra, Bhag Milkha Bhag played by Farhan Akhtar or Salman Khan playing the role of a typical Indian wrester.

The story in this case differed, as Captain Cool was seen being #CaptainCurious in this engaging short film getting extremely inquisitive about the story and questioning the lead about the movie. The video received 2.4M views with a whopping 7920 shares and over 94k reactions.

Another video was published complimenting the entire setting, using #GameOnMahi, where Dhoni tests the actor with a rapid fire about the depth of his research for this role; it garnered 1.9M views and 67k reactions.

As the  date neared, social media witnessed the increasing attempts to fit the image of Sushant Singh Rajput into the skin of Dhoni on the silver screen, as it was all about acceptance of the character.  With the motive of imbibing this thought in our minds, #SushantIsDhoni started doing the rounds on internet where they intended to amalgamate two personalities as one for the movie.

Adding on to the adrenaline rush around the country’s arguable favorite captain, the page released portions of dialogues from the film giving a little more for the viewers. On September 20th, the page began with the countdown raising more anticipation around the film.

As far as Bollywood is concerned the limelight of the film is inclined more towards the lead actors, but here through their social media page they attempted to balance that out by including filmmaker Neeraj Pandey in their digital movement. #AskNeerajAndSSR was initiated where the two prominent personalities from the movie were taking questions from the fans and answering them on Twitter or as they called it #BlueRoom and then the Facebook Live feature was leveraged for the same purpose.

An array of actions were conducted to involve the audience making them a part of this journey – #MSDhoniTrivia was carried on giving the off-line insights from the live of Mahi. The page was also utilized to share images from offline events conducted for the movie.

Finally, as we intimately explore the journey of the captain from once being a ticket collector at Kharagpur railway station to becoming one of the country’s cricketing legend, through this audio-visual piece of art. Facebook is also offering an individual filter for fans to apply and publicize their support and eagerness for the film.

Complimentary campaign

Apart from the conversations bordering around the movie, an extensive campaign titled #HarGullyMeinDhoniHai was running on social media. Under the shield of this thread, the visuals commencing with time lapse were dominated by rich, raw Indian geographies and diversities with distinct camera angles and rousing background score.

Drawing encouragement from the real-life cricket hero, this video pushed fans to chase their dreams just like Mahi did once upon a time. Disassociated with any brand, but branching out as a part of the film, this movie has managed to escalate the movie’s marketing strategy; it was eventually released in multiple lingos to widen their audience reach.

Designed especially for the fans, contest called out to the fans to imitate any aspect of Dhoni, right from his helicopter shot to his hairstyle and share it using #HarGullyMeinDhoniHaiand tagging @foxstarhindi.

Reel and Real Dhoni on social media

The absence of a separate page channeled the promotional activities through multiple pages, with MS Dhoni’s and Sushant Singh Rajput’s official handle being the prime modes of content dissemination.

MS Dhoni, possessing a whooping 19,062,543 followers and Sushant Singh Rajput with 706,848 fans on Facebook, eased the content dispersion process in comparison to building a profile by scratch and gaining followers.

The communication was warm as the personal accounts of these celebrities showcased their involvement in the movie promotion. Though through this way, content was distributed through various channels eventually reaching a wider audience, but this activity created a lack of content concentration under a single roof, hence no one-stop destination for content consumption.

Brand involvement with MS Dhoni: The Untold Story  

Garnier who has the lead actor of the movie as their brand ambassador contributed to the conversation using #HitPimplesForASix and #MSDhoniTheUntoldStory; the brand build held a contest ‘Bat like a captain’ where the they asked viewers to share a video of the Helicopter Shot.

Kingfisher became another brand to extend the buzz around the movie, where fans had the opportunity to win exclusive personalized Dhoni merchandise. They had to follow the three steps wherein they had to download the image, set it as your profile picture using #KFCelebratesDhoni and had to share how they would celebrate Good Times with Dhoni.

Dhoni and Exide Life Insurance collaborated recently making the captain the face of their brand and extending their #LambaSaath through a small campaign wherein fans had to take a screenshot when Dhoni’s coach, father and friends appear together in the GIF.

The final over

Summarizing the entire plot, MS Dhoni The Untold Story did not take the customary path by producing varied content, but instead created limited yet relevant content and scattered it evenly through prominent channels.

The casual interaction between Dhoni and Sushant Singh Rajput took the cake in the entire promotional activities by grabbing all the attention through their cheeky, humorous and lively to consume films.

The film still played safe by sticking to the good old Twitter and Facebook and keeping Snapchat and Instagram untouched, which might have been a fresh window for a Bollywood movie to market. Positively raising the expectations towards this biopic, their digital practices enveloped further enthusiasm and expectation from the movie.

Befriending social media magnificently worked for their benefit and moreover pushed out a new-fangled angle to movie marketing on digital by bringing together the best of both worlds – Bollywood and Cricket, what more would (majority of) Indians want?

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