Behind the making of BotHard, the AI rapper that combined advertising and entertainment

Paawan Sunam
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Social Samosa chats with Shubhita Aggarwal and Ronak Ramraje from DDB Mudra to understand how they recited the lyrics of this interactive marketing campaign on the algorithm of machine learning, and changed a street slang to an AI-powered campaign 'BotHard'.

In conversation with the team from DDB Mudra, we turn the page to the time when Rap was in the nascent stage as a music genre in India, and the campaign 'Bot Hard' encouraged user participation with the BotHard campaign. Ronak Ramraje, Group Head – Creative, DDB Mudra, and Shubhita Aggarwal, Client Solutions Partner, DDB Mudra Group take us through the verses of this campaign At SMLive 2023 by #SocialSamosa on #WorldSocialMediaDay.

BotHard: The Rise

DDB Mudra collaborated with MTV India to create the marketing innovation 'Bot Hard', and promote the second season of the rap-reality television show – MTV Hustle 2.0. Powered by AI, BotHard raps on any word from the English dictionary given by users on Instagram via a DM and creates an instant rap on it.

The genesis of the campaign began in around 2019, when Rap was not the primary genre Indians listened to, after the release of Gully Boy, the genre had started to pick up, but was not mainstream yet. Shubhita mentions most Indians didn't want to listen to rap at that time.

The campaign's primary target audience was the Gen-Z demographic, and digital natives that were curious and open to exploring, and would at least listen to, or try a new genre at least once. She shares, "We thought instead of making people listen to rap, why don't we make them try it out'".

Ronak reckons in the Rap community when the listener hears something very fire, they say "Boht Hard", and the team at DDB Mudra pondered upon the concept of the campaign lying in these words. The team further researched how can we make this work and discovered a machine learning tool based on web scraper.

When given a word, the web scraper goes to another website, and finds rhymes with the word, for example, 'tomato', and then it goes to Wikipedia and finds sentences that end with 'tomato' or its rhymes. Now by the time this campaign was set up with this machinery, ChatGPT had garnered explosive popularity and the client wanted to shift base since the marketability related to this tool was much higher.

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Later on GPT3 and its functionalities of generating verses in specific styles and tonalities of several rappers such as Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, and Jay-Z.

As the development of the campaign progressed further, the incorporation of the video also came into the picture. Ronak says that this was something the team had no knowledge about, but was parallelly thinking of what the bot would look like. The client's feedback of static text not being the best way to consume Rap led to another AI integration into the visual of the campaign.

The team then found another AI tool called DeepMotion, which overlays the motion of a real human onto a 3D model.

A professional choreographer then did a dance video and then overlaid the 3D model on this, and the lyric generation was set to be at a specific tonality, but be fun enough to be relatable. Shubhita mentions there were a lot of bad raps that led to the good raps. Ronak shares that these raps were transformed into vocals and then stitched onto a beat, and then attached with a visual.

When the BotHard concluded its genesis, Ronak states that the insight of an up & coming rapper dissing an established rapper was added to match this concept with marketing. the team mentions that they portrayed BotHard to be an up & coming rapper, and it dissed all the established rappers like Drake and Badshaah.

BotHard: The Rule

Shubhita states that once the campaign concluded a finding was assessed that each consumer sampled it repeatedly, and each individual at least put in 7-8 prompts. This campaign resulted in 350,000+ rap videos being generated. MTV Hustle Season 2.0 garnered 2 Bn views and saw 9x growth in views on Digital from Season 1.

The campaign also garnered organic mention from fellow brands' official Instagram handle on BotHard’s rap on the brand. The innovation got further picked up by mid-size influencers and rappers who interacted with the Bot and posted stories on their social handles.

Shubhita concludes at the end of the day it was a great learning, and AI has the capability to learn, and make the campaign much better than what we visualize. The team believes, "Rap is a genuine art form, and technology cannot replace it, as Rap is more than just ending the last word of the sentence with a rhyme.

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