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Movie Marketing: Are song challenges still relevant?

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Meghna Lall
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Movie Marketing: Are song challenges still relevant?


If music is to Bollywood what crust is to pizza, could song challenges be toppings? We take a look at their relevance in the movie marketing ecosystem with expert inputs.

Be it celebrities grooving to songs at airports or youngsters on TikTok, the acceptance of this trend has been established, pretty unquestionably. However, has it been overdone? Are song challenges still relevant?

Emphasizing the importance of songs in Bollywood, Janak Bhanushali, CEO, Hifi Digi Advertising tells us, "One might not see a trailer again and again, but a song has multiple consumption potential and hence it travels more." A good song can make or break a movie, he adds. Song challenges are an extension of this line of thought.

Role of TikTok

While it began with Sonam Kapoor announcing the Prem Ratan Dhan Payo Challenge on Dubsmash, back in 2015 it later moved to Instagram and musical.ly (now TikTok). With the 15-second short video format, TikTok has opened gates for moviemakers to directly engage with the audiences at a grass root level, even in remote parts of the country, Gautam B Thaker, CEO, Everymedia tells us. "TikTok has played a huge role in simplifying what used to be a very unique thing to do," he adds.

When it comes to TikTok, there is a class factor too. The creators on the platform belong to varied demographics and most of them are youngsters. With respect to song challenges, young creators work as fuel, driving content creation in innovative ways. "Tik Tok has been a strong underdog and shall prove to be a centerpiece of a lot of marketing activities in near future," Bhanushali tells us.

Given how TikTok focusses on dialogues and songs, it is an excellent platform for brands and marketers to leverage for song challenges. "With platforms focussing on filters, it has become easier to create content and encourage more users to engage with the platform regularly," explains Manish Kumar, Founder, Digi Osmosis.

TikTok has strategically invested in influencers and creating camera-based innovations to promote users to engage with content. The Bala Challenge peaked with UGC because of the unique filter they created for the promotions, shares Kumar.

What makes a song challenge successful?

While impressions help us judge the potential, shareability helps us judge the virality. A positive combination of both is a good recipe to make a song viral. An interesting metric is to look at the number of times the challenge pops in the explore feed/trending section of the platforms. Other important grades include-

Virality: The secret to viral content is that it doesn't require pushing, it pushes itself and disrupts the digital space with its sensation. A song challenge is a sheer example of incidental viral marketing that enables a piece of content to spread by itself, with no initial plan or effort by the original content creator.

Quality Of Engagement: When conversations, amplification, and applause are consistent and a trust is developed between the content creator and the audience, the quality of engagement is at a high. Thus, today, song challenges have seemed to establish their niche creators with a group of loyal audiences backing them. For instance, it was reported that dance influencers such as Aadil Khan, Dhanashree Verma, The Bom Squad were a part of the collaboration for Love Aaj Kal's Twist Challenge, even before the song was launched.

Impressions: The visibility received by a song challenge is phenomenal, in fact, bloggers have initiated song challenges in order to increase the visibility of their profile in general. With trending hashtags on TikTok and Instagram, it is easier to identify them.

Shareability: Shareability helps us judge the virality. High shareability determines the high likeability of the challenge and vice versa. It determines the acceptance rate of the song.

Number of UGC created for the challenge: The number of pieces created by the influencers and artists defines if the challenge will take forward steps. Today, movie marketers find ways to persuade the audience into joining the bandwagon of their ‘deadly’ trend.

However, the success of a song challenge is clearly subjective as it truly depends on the objective. Some look at the virality of the content while some look for the quality of engagement. There is no one roadmap to derive its success.

Standing out of the Clutter

Gautam tells us how having song challenges as an element in the movie marketing strategy is more a rule than an exception now. However, to bring forth novelty is the key. Recently, Dheeme Dheeme broke the internet when Deepika Padukone and Kartik Aaryan grooved to the steps of the foot-tapping track outside a Mumbai airport. Before the event, they created a buzz about it with the help of a conversation on Instagram Stories.

Bhumi Pednekar had shared a video for the Dheeme Dheeme Challenge where she could be seen dancing with Ayushmann Khurrana. This was an interesting move for two have been paired in multiple movies and though Khurrana wasn't a part of this Pati Patni Aur Woh, he was a supportive friend in the narrative. It was quality content backed with feel-good emotions that helped add multiple dimensions to the marketing efforts.

Also Read: Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan Movie Marketing: a ‘Zyada’ message to remember?

According to Janak, Saki Saki Challenge and Garmi Challenge were able to cut through the clutter to reach the masses. In the case of Street Dancer 3, song challenges were more relevant than for movies of other genres. Thus multiple challenges such as Garmi Challenge, Muqabla Challenge, and Illegal Weapon 2 Challenge were announced by Varun Dhawan, Shraddha Kapoor, and Nora Fatehi.

Other song challenges that received a noteworthy response from the audience included Lambergini Challenge, Dilbar Challenge, Ghungroo Challenge, and Bala Challenge.

Relevance of Song Challenges

Song challenges, today, are not just emerging, they are established and Gautam reiterates that they have become a part of the engagement campaign. Manish Kumar believes that it may take forms of - dance covers, singing covers or hook step challenges, but it will stay at peak this year and not vanish in the years to arrive.

In his closing words, Gautam concluded, "I wouldn't define song challenges as a trend anymore. They were cool and trendy to do when they started off, but now they have become a part of an engagement campaign for movies and song launches. You see a new challenge almost every day, especially with TikTok and Helo on the rise as platforms."

While Manish claimed, "As more influencers and celebs are coming on platforms like Instagram and TikTok, entertainment-based content is getting amplified and traveling to wider audiences. Whether it is dance covers or singing covers or hook step challenges, the trend will for sure the only peak in this year and future years."

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