#ExpertOpinion: Dancing uncle to Charulata Patel – Time-bound superstars ensure viral marketing?

viral marketing

From Dancing Uncle to Charulata Patel a.k.a Lucky Aunty, viral fame has made its mark in the world of brand association. It compels one to wonder about the effects and path trail of viral fame and how brands can convert these ‘moments’ into a viral marketing case study.

Last year around this time, videos of Dancing Uncle had gone massively viral. It led to Sanjeev Srivastava becoming the face of Bajaj Allianz campaign. The trend repeated itself this year with Charulata Patel starring in a Pepsi campaign. A year apart, these campaigns have a common thread — they leveraged on the fame of viral personalities and brought out topical, trending content — in real-time. This trend has given rise to a question – can these moment superstars result in viral marketing for brands?

Revisiting Dancing Uncle & Bajaj Allianz’s Viral Marketing attempt

“The idea was to ride on this wave and engage with our audience through Dancing Uncle’s creative connect. We started thinking of ways to leverage his popularity. It so happened that our bonus declaration to our policyholders was around the corner,” says Chandramohan Mehra, CMO, Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance.

“We got him to celebrate our announcement of a one-time special bonus for our policyholders in a video, where he danced on our jingle ‘Samjho Ho Gaya’ capturing the essence of the brand’s philosophy,” he explains the process, adding that the video today has more than 6 million views on various social assets. “This does not include the enormous number of forwards on WhatsApp,” he exclaims.

The Report Card – Viral Marketing done right?

The idea behind such initiatives is to tell an engaging story in a way that connects with the audiences and fuels conversations around the brand. “We want to fuel conversations around Life Goals in a manner that is contextual and strikes the right emotional chord with our audience, the Life Maximisers,” Mehra tells us.

“Most of our initiatives including the #DancingUncle, the web series #GameOfLifeGoals, #GraveyardOfGoals have enabled us to create a brand resonance with younger audiences. We believe such initiatives could create sizeable brand fans, who in turn will become custodians and drivers of positive sentiments for the brand,” he explains.

Also Read: #ExpertSpeak: The 10 Second Ad Showreel – A Long Running Bait?

Now boarding: Viral persons

Calling them one-hit wonders, Communications Consultant Karthik Srinivasan says, “Viral people are an integral part of moment marketing. They are the moments being marketed.” Brands should use them contextually. Integrate their story, of why they are viral, into the product or service.

“Most of the times, the agency and the brand are so absorbed by their own products and services that they do not want anything or anybody to get even a tiny bit of credit unless they happen to be superstars,” he says, adding that they need to remember that viral people are time-bound superstars that, if used appropriately, is a win-win situation for all.

With a pinch of salt

Feeling at odds with the way Bajaj Allianz put forth the Dancing Uncle in their campaign, Srinivasan lists out contextual possibilities of integrating a dancer that doesn’t fit the traditional bracket of a brand face in terms of physical appearance in brand communication.

  • An a/c brand could use him to show how coolly he dances in India’s heat, inside his house. 
  • A cooking oil/malt-based drink brand could use his fitness levels in this age to showcase their product. 
  • A soap brand could capitalize on his post-dancing, post-sweaty bath.
  • Tata Sky could capitalize on him watching all the songs on their platform, and also learning (or even teaching) dance moves on their 100 channel.
  • An innerwear brand could explain that he remains agile and stress-free because of their innerwear range.
  • A telecom network could say that he accesses his favourite stars’ dances via their network’s flawless internet.
  • A smartphone brand could say he records his dances using that phone’s superior camera.
  • A pain balm/gel could say that when he gets a joint/back pain (at his age) while dancing, he uses their product to get better.

On air in minutes

“Roping in viral personalities for brand campaigns is a common practice followed since the golden era of advertising. In today’s digital age, the quicker people get viral, the faster their digital fame tends to fizzle out,” opines Kartikeya Tiwari, VP – Strategy, Kinnect, adding that brands are continually targetting these faces in campaigns for of their relatability with the target audience and the recall they could create for the brand.

Moment marketing is not about the person, it is more about the situation and of course, the moment. “A brand’s quest to rope in a viral person for a moment marketing campaign could dilute its value. It could lead to the person being larger than the campaign, and the moment the brand is trying to capitalise on,” feels Tiwari.

Quick Takeaways for brands

For seamless integration, Tiwari suggests three important points a brand must absolutely consider while roping in a viral celebrity:

  • Make sure the person you choose fits with your brand values
  • Make sure the person you choose appeals to your specific target audience(s)
  • Make sure the person you choose has amassed enough fame that will last a while

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