Tanmay Bhatt and his colleagues at All Things Small were brainstorming ideas for a new video with Cred’s marketing team in early 2021. Tanmay made a throwaway comment, “What if Rahul Dravid got angry?” and everyone in the room smiled, and that’s when he realized that if everyone in the room was smiling, there was a good chance that the viewers would like it too.
The crew at All Things Small had no idea their film would end up in the Indian Premier League. Enough has been said about the ad’s viral success and the subsequent ideas in the series. But the question that one needs to ask is, did going viral help Cred’s bottom line.
Before we figure out Cred’s story, let’s try to answer whether a brand should even attempt to go viral.
Do we even want to go viral?
“If I got a dollar every time someone said they wanted their campaign to go viral, I would be a millionaire by now.” You’ve probably already heard this one before from someone working at an advertising agency.
While everybody talks about going viral, very few actually know what it entails. Some content creators have developed frameworks or formulas to define why something goes viral. For instance, Upworthy believes that it’s a combination of likes and shares.
But as professor Jonah Berger puts it, “Going viral isn’t random magic or luck. It’s a science.” Before you even consider the possibility of going viral, you should ask yourself, “Do you even want to go viral?”
Probably your boss or the senior management are convinced that your content has the potential to go viral. But before you decide to green-light the campaign, consider the below questions.
- Why do you want to go viral?
- What will it do for your business?
If your answer to question one is awareness, then that’s fine. But what good is awareness if it doesn’t help the bottom line? But let’s say your goal is to generate $100,000 in revenue, then going viral is too unpredictable for goals of that nature.
But if your content has the remotest chance of going viral, you need to be geared for a call to action that can handle that kind of traffic. If the Coinbase team has learned anything from the Super Bowl ad featuring a QR code, it is to ensure that your website can withstand the traffic.
3 Marketing Campaigns and Lessons to be Learned
Dunzo’s QR code commercial during the IPL finals was inspired by Coinbase’s SuperBowl commercial. While some experts believed that the brand could have tried something original, Dunzo’s bet paid off.
The traffic spiked by 10X after the campaign went viral. Dunzo usually does about 2 million weekly orders, which has nearly doubled post the campaign. Dunzo’s team also anticipated that they would likely see a massive spike in traffic and was prepared to handle the technical issues that could arise from the situation.
The industry experts, however, had mixed opinions on the campaign; while some considered it a bold move, others thought that the brand shouldn’t have copied Coinbase’s idea. But it is nevertheless interesting to see an Indian brand trying to reimagine how media can be utilized.
The pandemic had a crippling effect on India’s economy, and small businesses were the worst hit. Cadbury wanted to help small businesses, especially neighborhood stores, revive their sales. They created a 2.18-minute hyper-local personalized commercial by partnering with rephrase.ai to accomplish this.
The campaign went to win a titanium Cannes Lions in 2022, the first for India in the category. Cadbury’s marketing team would have expected that the campaign would be successful but going by accolades, this has far exceeded their expectations.
Back in 2018, Netflix was the butt of everyone’s memes. The OTT platform was getting trolled for featuring too many shows with Radhika Apte. Instead of taking offense, the brand chooses humor to respond.
It released a two-minute video, designed to look like a behind-the-scenes featurette, in which Apte discusses her talents while perfectly portraying a pretentious diva. “I like to push the envelope as an artist,” she says as a makeup artist paints her lips. “I was a little hesitant when Netflix approached me with another offer,” she admits.
Netflix has always been using micro-trends and moment marketing to its advantage. This was one of those campaigns where they responded swiftly to gather even more mileage from the situation.
Needless to say, the memes were quickly forgotten, and most people praised the brand’s social media marketing strategy. Netflix did not stop there. The brand updated its Instagram description to: Just another Radhika Apte fan account.
How to position yourself for going Viral?
If you look at each of the above campaigns, you likely see a common thread. They were all well-thought-out ideas. Even Dunzo knew the idea had legs because Coinbase had tried it before. While nobody knew whether their campaign would go viral or not, they were prepared.
They had a distribution or media strategy to support the content and ensure it reached the internet’s remotest corners. Here are a few things you should do as a brand to position yourself for going viral.
1. Does the idea have legs?
When so many people see your message, you lose control of it. If you don’t have a well-thought-out idea, it could result in Psychological backfiring. Your campaign could have the opposite of the desired effect than you originally intended.
You wouldn’t be surprised to hear how often this has happened recently, with campaigns from Tanishq and Malabar Gold being criticized for hurting religious sentiments. To ensure that your idea clears all these filters you will have to focus on who your audience is and what resonates with them.
You need an idea that agrees with their worldview but also goes on to make an emotional, social connection with your audience. If the idea passes this first test, you must determine whether it can be scaled further in the future.
For instance, Cadbury tested out the ‘Not a Cadbury Ad‘ idea in 2021 when it ran dynamic video ads using DV 360. When the idea worked, they knew it had legs and could be scaled further.
Sometimes on the surface, some of these ideas might sound counterintuitive. If your response is, who will buy this? Then you are waiting to be proven wrong. Just look at what Chung Jung One, Korea’s leading food brand, did for people who couldn’t go out to bars/pubs for a drink during the pandemic.
2. Be Prepared
If there is a remote chance that your idea could go viral, ensure your team is prepared to handle the response. Coinbase’s site went down after their QR-code commercial went viral. The team wasn’t ready to handle the unprecedented traffic spike followed by the campaign.
Being prepared also means having the right media and distribution strategy. If you depend on a single channel to drive your idea, even if your campaign sees a momentary spike, it will die down after a while. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but having a well-crafted strategy will ensure that your idea has the intended effect on the audience.
3. Iterate and Try Again
Cadbury just built on its ‘Not a Cadbury Ad‘ idea once it knew the idea had legs. They knew they had to do something bolder and more imaginative if they continued with the idea. With the second iteration of the campaign, they literally hit titanium (skipping the gold).
As Kabeer Biswas, CEO, Dunzo suggests in his blog post, as a brand, you must keep looking for that category-defining insight and reimagine the dimensions in which the media can be utilized. When you’re swinging for the fences, sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn’t. But what matters as a brand is that you’re constantly trying to push the envelope of what people thought was possible.
As a brand, you’ve multiple goals; the first is to build recall which is every time the consumer thinks of the category that you operate in, they should remember your brand.
With so much noise around, this is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve unless you have lots of money to throw at the problem. But it is not necessarily a problem you can solve with money alone. The second is to ensure that the consumer purchases your product or service. If you do the first part, doing the second becomes relatively straightforward if you have a compelling product or service.
So let’s go back to the Cred story. The company spent nearly ₹222 crores on marketing in 2021. That’s a lot of money, especially if you consider that the brand only spent ₹57 crores in 2020.
Cred saw its sign-ups increase 6-7x after the campaign and nearly processed 25% of credit card bill payments in India. As Karthik Sridharan points out in his blog post, it doesn’t make sense if you add up the numbers. The company is spending nearly ₹727 to earn ₹1 rupee.
Whether the brand will make money remains to be seen, but the fact we’re talking about them is the direct outcome of the work they have put into building their brand. If you’re like me, you will know that nobody cares about fintech or credit cards as a category.
If you’ve heard of the brand and what it does, isn’t that a win?