Two useful lessons from this viral campaign promoting airline tickets to affluent consumers in India -- (1) Even in this era of globalization, a regional agency can increase viral responses in a regional market and (2) if one campaign works, turn it into a viral series for ongoing brand building. Included, useful response data on how different campaigns took off in different ways.
Agency: Webchutney Studio
Client/company: MakeMyTrip India Pvt Ltd
Brand campaign was conducted for: MakeMyTrip India Pvt Ltd
Launch date of campaign: Oct 2005
Target audience/demographic: Indian travelers looking for affordable airfares and travel deals
The primary goal of the campaign was to promote the lowest airfares guarantee offered by www.makemytrip.com, which is an India based travel company. MakeMyTrip offers the most competitive airfares in the country and the brand message 'if you find a lower airfare, we pay the difference' is the outcome of this guarantee. The campaign was aimed at sending this message out to the rising breed of travel happy Indians who are looking to travel by air more than ever. A manifestation of this trend was conveyed through another message to the target audience, 'Just Wish, Click and Go' Two virals each have been created for the brand and to entice travelers to make use of the low airfares.
The campaign is an ongoing one and includes four virals till date. the first viral of the series, Sita Haran, was centered around the Indian festival of Dusshera. Ravana kidnapped Sita, who was the wife of Ram in Ramayana. Ram kills Ravana after rescuing his wife and thus Dusshera is celebrated across India to mark this victory of good over evil. In the viral,however, Ravana, while on a mission to hoodwink and kidnap Sita encounters the enticing offer and unable to resist it, he rushes off to claim it.
The second of the series was a sequel of sorts in which we put a new humorous twist to the kidnapping incident. The two brothers, Ram and Lakshman along with their faithful sidekick, Hanuman pick the affordable airfares to Sri Lanka by MakeMyTrip to reach Sita instead of the treacherous journey that they undertake in the original epic.
The third film, Chidiya Udi was based on a popular Indian children's game called Chidiya Ud in which the objective is to trick other players into making all kinds of objects fly -- be it people, places or anything inanimate. The name literally means "the bird flies." One player takes the lead in rattling off a list of objects using one' index finger as a representative gesture of flying. The catch is to resist following the leader's action if the object named does not have the power to fly. In the viral however, as the older girl
mentions ordinary people and lifts her finger as though they can fly, the small child follows suit. The laundry guy, the gardener, the vegetable vendor along with a bunch of ordinary people can now fly owing to the lowest airfares being offered by Makemytrip.com. The inherent brand message is that air travel is as simple as child's play with the client's affordable travel deals. While 'and di' are Hindi translations of the phrase 'can fly', 'ula' and 'uli' mean the same but with a child's lilt. Nikhil, Ashi and Himanshu are other common Indian names.
The fourth and most recent one, The Moving Train is mildly inspired is a humorous take on the Bollywood blockbuster 'Sholay' a movie about Dacoits and Bandits.
The opening scene has all the drama of masala Bollywood fare's armed dacoits chasing a train on horseback accompanied by typical action movie soundtrack. After a good chase, the dacoits climb aboard the train and warn the passengers not to move. Only to realise a moment later that the compartment is empty.
His equally perplexed henchman moans, 'there is no one in the train?' That very moment the hapless gang sees a plane flying by full of happy passengers.
Even as the dacoits stare at the plane, one of them asks, 'Kya ab hawai jahaj ko lootiyega ka?' (Will you now loot the airplane?)
The creative strategy can be summed as inherently Indian in style and positioning. All the films are rooted in Indian folklore and mythology. Employing omnipresent characters be it Ram or Ravana or the village dacoits, each film has an enduring character which lives forever in the minds of people thus making them The main tool used to create these virals was Macromedia Flash and lot of handiwork in the form of character creation and detailing was also done. Page views, unique visitors and the forwarding frequency were the measurement tactics used for the campaign.
The seed strategy was email marketing through our network of clients and audience base. Along with that, the virals were sent out to forums such as Viral Monitor, online communities and marketing based blogs, especially those run by Indian marketers and entrepreneurs. The word spread quite effectively through blogs, those run by Webchutney employees and external ones as well. What worked for us was the fact that a sustained viral campaign had been created for a brand by an Indian interactive agency for the first time and thus caught widespread attention both in the interactive community and print media. We encouraged our entire network including employees to forward the viral aggressively and put the campaign up on both our and client's website so that the films could be viewed through a common link.
The campaign has generated significant buzz and in fact continues to do so, especially in the blogosphere. The campaign also found coverage in print, stories regarding the campaign appeared in Business Standard, Times of India and Hindustan Times, leading newspapers here. Online publications were also high on reporting about the rise of viral marketing in India once this campaign was introduced. Agencyfaqs.com, Exchange4media.com, rediff.com were some of the portals which covered the campaign. Through sending out our work to viral monitors like those of Chinwag and Lycos we were able to get international traction as well. In fact, upon sending the work to Marketing Sherpa late last year, we were asked to enter the work for this viral hall of fame:-)
The hotlink: http://webchutney.com/innews/blogs.html
Specific (Goal-Related) Campaign Results:
We found out that the receptiveness and interest towards viral marketing was huge from both Indian audiences and marketers alike. Since the market here is nascent, the campaign broke new ground and was widely accepted. The campaign has today reached almost 250,000 unique visitors.
This is how each viral fared in its awareness cycle:
Sita Haran- two days to catch on strongly and since it was a festival centric promotion, results began to diminish after a week.
Chalo Lanka- the viral caught on in 2-3 days of release and results came down after two weeks of initial release.
Chidiya udi- this creative took about 5 days to go around and we saw results going down after ten days of release.
The Moving train- this has proved to be an extremely popular promotion and it took just about a day for it to latch on and continue to go strong in the blogosphere.
We would not do anything differently as the biggest lesson learnt was that viral works and works amazingly well when created keeping in mind the cultural roots of the target audience. What did surprise us, however, was the immense interest and buzz that each viral in the campaign was able to generate and the interest that marketers have displayed in utilizing this form of marketing to communicate to consumers online.