Pop culture is not an option: How the Bollywood angle worked for

Sneha Yadav
Updated On
New Update fitness campaign

Naresh Krishnaswamy, Growth & Marketing Head,, and Girish Narayandass and Anuya Jakatdar - scriptwriters for the Fitness Is Not An Option Campaign - take us behind the scenes into the proverbial 'boardroom' as they share the story of the infamous pop culture campaign and the buzz it received...

Last week Yash Raj Films (YRF) flagged one of the two ad films released by citing copyright infringement. The commercial was a spoof of the iconic ‘Jaa Simran Jaa’ scene from the classic movie, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge produced by YRF. The video was immediately taken down from social media adhering to the official intimation sent by the production house. However, it is now back online and seems to be the only thing that matters to the makers of the campaign ‘Fitness is not an option by

After the first TVC went on air, the brand dropped yet another inspired tale from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara - with a touch of ‘fitness’ to it. With a mix of popular culture and humor, the brand aimed to communicate that fitness should be on everybody’s radar. was co-founded by Mukesh Bansal with Ankit Nagori in 2016. The fitness brand received a round of funding of USD 75M from Tata Digital in June 2021.

Going behind the scenes to delve deeper into the making of the campaign, Social Samosa speaks to Naresh Krishnaswamy, Growth & Marketing Head,, and Girish Narayandass and Anuya Jakatdar who are the scriptwriters that worked on the ad films. Girish has helmed both the films too.

Insight - ‘Fitness Is Not An Option’

With the pandemic, everyone has realized the importance of fitness and the fact that it can't be ignored., in the recent past, has ramped up its supply and presence across channels including gyms, online workouts, and recently sports. The brand wants fitness to be a major priority for everyone. While trying to figure out how to effectively communicate this message, it landed on the idea of mixing it with something that everyone relates to and enjoys – pop culture.

“Having decided internally that our campaign needed to be light-hearted, relatable, and funny, we worked with a talented duo of scriptwriters – Girish Narayandass and Anuya Jakatdar, who developed the Bollywood angle to it,” shares Naresh Krishnaswamy.

Since Bollywood enjoys immense brand recall and is highly relatable, both parties thought that it would also work brilliantly with the brand’s messaging.

Also Read: BTS: Vicks #TouchOfCare from the lens of the client and the agency

R&D: Campaign Evolution

In the past year and a half, the perception of people towards fitness has been shifting. Rather than being only reactive about it, many people are now addressing their fitness needs head-on. There is so much more awareness about why fitness and improving immunity should be a major priority for every person regardless of age, gender, and other factors.

Krishnaswamy notes, “We see this even among the users that work out with us, both online and offline. Hence, we are trying to enable this shift in thought and position fitness as something that needs to be done proactively. It is not restricted to just aesthetic purposes – fitness is needed for one’s own mental and physical well-being. This was a primary thought that is also reflected in our campaign.”  

He also informs that the idea for this campaign evolved in-house with the’s marketing team coming up with the key insight and message. “We did not use traditional creative agencies for this campaign,” he says.

The Big Brief

Cultfit wanted to take a strong stand on fitness and how important it is in our lives. However, Anuya and Girish highlight, they wanted to avoid the whole ‘serious tone’ you usually come across in campaigns around fitness and motivation.

They add, “They wanted the films to be super fun, and us to be super serious about making them super fun.”

The Making – From Conceptualisation To Execution

After receiving the brief, the writer duo and their team presented six ideas to “This was our last idea. It came to us after we were almost done with our PPT deck that was to be presented the next day. We joked about how it would be funny if Simran got tired while running to catch the train in that iconic scene. We then decided to include the idea in the deck as well. Luckily for us, after seeing the idea, said “Ja Anuya, Girish jaa, bana le apna campaign",” they laugh.

Further sharing his experience upon directing the films too, Girish shares that he has directed a lot of comedy sketches in the past (mostly during my time at AIB). Never directed a major TVC Campaign before.

1, 2021

“So this was really exciting and terrifying at the same time. But I didn’t tell about the ‘terrifying' part,” he quips.

The execution was tricky because the creative team had very little time to prep. Getting the right cast and location was crucial since they were recreating iconic movie scenes. It was important for the films to evoke that sense of familiarity. 

They got Supari Studios on board to produce the campaign who then got the ball rolling.

Commenting on the character development and fixing the cast, Girish says, “Hemangi Kavi is an established actor. We loved her audition clip straightaway. Bauji, you know. Casting Aadar Malik, Rahul Subramanian and Rahul Dua for ZNMD was a no-brainer because of how funny they are both online and offline, and as you can see they've done total justice to the script.”

The best BTS anecdote, for Girish, is this: Anoop Puri, the actor who played Bauji in the first ad, is actually a close relative of Amrish Puri. “If I’m not mistaken, he is Amrish Puri’s nephew. And it all happened by chance. We learned about this after we got his audition clip, which we loved anyway. And he is so sweet to work with. During the shoot, he came up to me and said, "I know this is just an ad for you but it's an emotional moment for me..." 

Marketing Nama launched the campaign across TV, OTT, and social media platforms. The ad films began airing during India vs England test series and will continue during IPL which begins on 19th September. The platform is also predominantly utilizing our owned social media channels – YouTube, Instagram, Twitter – to distribute the film and allied creatives that reinforce the campaign messaging.

To further boost the campaign, it also collaborated with popular influencers and comedians - such as Rahul Dua, Rahul Subramanian, Aadar Malik.

"We use both paid as well as organic channels in conjunction for our marketing requirements. Organic promotions help in driving top of the funnel while paid promotions are mostly focused on driving conversions,” Krishnaswamy informs.

The first video was flagged off by YRF citing copyright issues. Commenting on the same, he says, “At, our focus through various marketing campaigns has been to resonate with our audience and create something relatable and memorable. We often lean on popular culture which has time and again proven to be impactful,”

As per the brand, the ad was produced and released after all due diligence was done from its end. The issue has been resolved and the video is back on social media platforms, while the campaign marketing remains least impacted.

To measure the success of the campaign, will be tracking installs of the app and subsequent bookings for the workout sessions.

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