I head Jack in the Box Worldwide, the digital outfit behind the monster called #kolaveri.
This is the true story.
Did we anticipate this rage? A little bit of it yes. Such a monstrous response? No. When we saw the video for the first time in office, we knew it connected across languages because everyone in office was watching it on repeat mode and downloading the ringtones. We realised we had a brilliant piece of content and decided to seed and promote it aggressively.
The video was entirely online seeded. YouTube, Facebook and Twitter formed the core of our strategy. The Sony Music South page has close to 200K fans and we knew this would hit home there because its a predominantly Tamil audience. The You Tube link would attract You Tube views on its own as well.
On Twitter, we adopted a different strategy. We created a hashtag called #whythiskolaveridi and started posting quirky lines like “Iceland has not heard #whythiskolaveridi”, “Not called for 2 days #whythiskolaveridi”, etc., with the YouTube link to the video. This intrigued people on twitter who didn’t understand what Kolaveri di meant. So questions started being asked and as a natural impulse, people started clicking on the link.
We knew that all we had to do was get people to click the play button and they would get hooked. Virality was assured to a certain extent because we all like sharing what we really, really like. But then, the video just exploded across the net when people like Amitabh Bachchan, Anand Mahindra and Salman Rushdie started tweeting about it. The video crossed over from the South to the rest of India and then rapidly went international in a big way.
Fan videos started pouring in from all parts of India and the world including Japan. We started getting mails and tweets telling us how people in Canada, Greece and a host of other places were humming this song. Not just Indians, but everybody else also. A radio station in the US played this song and then the Indian radio stations started airing it. On the way, it broke a few historic milestones: The first ever tamil song to be aired on MTV which roadblocked a whole Saturday for this song. This was the first time ever a tamil song was played on FM in Bangalore. It didn’t just go viral but also broke hitherto taboos culturally.
News channel, publications and other online sites and bloggers picked it up and it ended being a monster viral campaign. Sony Music’s PR machinery kicked in and once the interviews with Dhanush started on news channels, we knew that the publicity that the song and therefore the film got would be worth Crores of rupees.
Did the stars in the video contribute to the virality? Down south, of course yes! Fact is, outside of the south, people don’t know who Dhanush is or what he looks like. Or even Aishwarya or Shruti Hassan. To top it all he is Rajnikanth’s son-in-law. But we never name dropped to make the video popular because the content itself had the legs and the hook to reel people in and get them stuck on to it.
What really worked for it in the end was a combination of online seeding, mainstream PR, influencer engagement and at the core of it all, a song everyone could identify with shot in a non-posed, non-cinema way. Social Media is the perfect medium for reaching out quickly and inexpensively to a massive audience across the globe. With 10 million views on YouTube and actually rapidly growing everyday and more than 2 lakh shares on Facebook, this might just end up becoming a classical case study about Content Seeding and Viral Marketing. I can’t remember any other film campaign where a behind-the-scenes video was used to gain a massive amount of publicity. That’s a new barrier that Kolaveri broke. I suspect there will be a lot of imitators coming our way soon.
By the way, we created our own version of the song which now has 85,000 views on You Tube.
Full statistics coming up soon!