“In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes,” a popular quote often attributed to Andy Warhol, seems to be ringing true. Social media appears to possess the power to bring people from obscurity into the limelight overnight. A recent name to get a taste of this instantaneous fame is Orhan Awatramani. Popularly known as ‘Orry,’ he has made quite a stir on social media, and everyone’s asking the same question, “Who is he? what does he do?"
The Orry effect seems to baffle people and A&M industry professionals alike. What started out as a meme has turned into something bigger. Orry has become a celebrity in his own right – many comparing him with the likes of Paris Hilton and the Kardashians.
So, who is he?
While no one has been able to answer that yet, what we do know is that he is the recent obsession of the brandverse.
Manav Parekh, SVP & Executive Creative Director, Only Much Louder, mentioned that these collaborations are about becoming a part of cultural movements.
“Brands are increasingly turning to digital celebrities like Orry and Jasmine Kaur as strategic partners. These collaborations are more than marketing tactics; they're a fusion of creative energies tapping into current cultural movements which over the past few years are memes. By partnering with these influencers, brands seek to capture the pulse of contemporary trends and connect with audiences in a meaningful way. Or should I say, a meme-ingful way,” says Parekh.
Making hay while the virality shines
Brands that managed to strike just when the iron was hot and charmed the audience are CRED and Netflix. They maintained Orry’s mystery and brought in his signature humor while finding a brand connect. CRED did this by simply adding fuel to Orry’s image of “Nobody knows what he does, but everybody knows him.”
On the reason why CRED resonated with experts, Anushree Jain, Co-Founder, SocialTAG, shares, “The goal [behind this] is to connect authentically and relatably with audiences, infusing spontaneity into the brand narrative. CRED's approach with Orry reflects an ideal strategy, integrating the influencer's essence seamlessly.”
While the Orry situation seems like an isolated incident, the internet has seen similar instances before of brands collaborating with unconventional content creators or people who have gone viral with their particular standout traits. Recent examples include Jasmeen Kaur, who went viral with her “Looking just like a wow” remark. This led to her collaborating with several brands, such as WOW Skin Science and Sunfeast Yippee Noodles. The viral catchphrase became an earworm and led to Kaur amassing a following of 1 million on Instagram.
The idea was to dip toes in their virality.
“In the age of digital celebrities like Orry and Jasmine Kaur, brands are embracing viral sensations for their unique charm,” says Jain.
Sharing what brands look for from these partnerships with short-lived sensations, Devdatta Potnis, CEO, Animeta says, “In this ever-evolving landscape, where brands vie for consumer mindshare, virality acts as a catalyst. It injects that extra boost for brands seeking a share of voice in a competitive market. Ultimately, the decision to invest in short-lived influencers and digital celebrities hinges on understanding the delicate balance between the transient trend and the enduring resonance that can be harnessed for brand growth.”
Timing remains a critical component when it comes to harnessing this virality. Deciding the correct time to jump on the bandwagon affects the success of such collaborations. If done too early, a brand might risk overestimating an influencer’s virality and end up squandering resources. If done too late, it could affect the brand’s optics–coming off as impulsively hungry for reach.
“It's key to join the trend when it's on the rise but yet to reach its peak. Checking if the trend aligns with brand values, speaks to the target audience, and offers room for creative integration is vital,” explains Mrunali Dedhia, Vice President, Chtrbox.
Virality’s expiry date a concern?
These collaborations offer impactful moments, but they are short-lived. Considering the fleeting nature of these trends, brands grapple with the challenge of finding the right time. Another challenge that brands face is evaluating the moment’s worth.
Preety Singh, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Boomlet Group spoke about achieving increased brand recall by collaborating with unconventional influencers. She also highlighted why it is important to understand the real objective before choosing a fleeting influencer.
“When collaborating with viral sensations, a brand must consider its long-term goals and key messaging. For instance, an energetic personality is the perfect fit for energy drinks or a brand in the sports industry; therefore, the brand should carefully choose the viral trend before collaborating with a viral influencer,” says Singh.
She further said that if a brand recognizes the potential alignment of a viral trend with its brand positioning goals, it can seize the opportunity to collaborate with creators within the limited window of opportunity.
While the sensation may be short-lived, Dedhia says that their virality adds significant value to brand partnerships across multiple facets.
“It allows the content to spread like wildfire in a short span, experiment with new marketing moves, re-establish the brand’s presence and connect with larger groups. The buzz around these short-lived moments spread the brand’s messaging through word of mouth - allowing them to influence the share of voice within the market. Riding that wave not only shines a light on the brand but also puts their products or services in the spotlight, bringing more engagement and recognition along the way,” adds Dedhia.
A window to GenZ
From Bhupendra Jogi to Sanjeev Srivastava aka Dancing Uncle, social media sees a lot of offbeat influencers gain instant virality and fame. These take over the majority of conversations taking place on the internet. Another objective behind this partnership, therefore, is speaking to the internet natives, GenZ.
“These partnerships help capitalize on the unique ability of influencers to connect authentically with their audiences. The reach and engagement achieved through these collaborations, especially among younger demographics, are significant,” says Parekh.
Escaping the shadow
Among the various factors, a key challenge for brands remains balancing brand recall and the trend’s virality i.e., not letting the trend overshadow the brand. Parekh says that there is a fine line between ensuring the influencer's virality complements the brand's message and not allowing it to dominate the collaboration entirely. It is hard to strike the right balance between being true to the person/trend that’s gone viral and the brand’s messaging. He says this is where brands and agencies alike need to evaluate if at all they really need to be part of the trend, just because it is a trend.
Anushree Jain says that evaluating the worth of momentary collaborations involves a careful analysis of long-term benefits versus short-lived gains. “It's a nuanced journey, leveraging viral influencers while mindful of potential drawbacks, ensuring alignment with the brand's enduring impact,” she adds.
It is a match!
A few years ago, Bajaj Allianz collaborated with the viral sensation Sanjeev Srivastava, popularly known as ‘Dancing Uncle.’ He appeared in campaigns that involved him doing his trademark dance moves while announcing the brand’s upcoming bonuses.
Emphasizing on the alignment of the brand and the influencer Mrunali Dedhia expresses, “Partnerships such as these can be absolutely worth the investment provided the collaboration and the brand communication are in synergies with each other.”
The intricacies of such collaborations aren’t limited to the long-term goals and the challenge of timing. Dedhia says that while the partnership may be effectively limited in time, the impact it has on a brand’s social media presence is definitely destructive
“The key to such partnerships for a brand is to identify and leverage only such opportunities that are relevant to their overall communication, brand image and objective,” she adds.
“These partnerships come with challenges, including the transient nature of viral fame. Brands must be prepared for the rapid cycle of relevance and irrelevance. Additionally, aligning the influencer's image with the brand's ethos is crucial to avoid mixed messaging and dilution of the brand identity.” says Manav Parekh of OML.
All said and done, the rise in popularity of such unconventional influencers is significant and noteworthy. They offer brands an opportunity to tap into a potential audience that is not within the reach of conventional media. The decision to jump in on these trends nevertheless, remains at the discretion of the brand–gauging whether the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.