The Game Be­gins

Sid­harth Shakd­her, head of acquisition and brand devel­op­ment, Hotstar, talks about the cam­paign that at­tempts to bring Game of Thrones fans onto the VOD plat­form.

The Brand Reporter - - EDITORIAL | CONTENTS - By Anir­ban Roy Choudhury

Bring­ing Game of Throne fans onto the VOD plat­form.

Win­ter is here.’ Th­ese three seem­ingly reg­u­lar words bear spe­cial mean­ing for a Game of Thrones (GOT) loy­al­ist; it’s what a char­ac­ter called Sansa said to another one called Jon in the fi­nal episode of Sea­son 6. In a bid to bring fans of the show onto its video-onde­mand (VOD) plat­form, Hotstar, for Sea­son 7, Star network has rolled out a mul­ti­me­dia cam­paign.

Ti­tled ‘Tor­rents Morghulis’, which means ‘tor­rents must die’, in ‘Game of Thrones’ tongue (the cam­paign ti­tle is a pun on the phrase ‘Valar Morghulis’ or ‘all men must die’), the ads high­light the down­side of watch­ing the show through tor­rents and il­le­gal stream­ing sites.

And tor­rents are what im­pa­tient fans of the show have in­fa­mously been re­sort­ing to, be­cause in the early days of the show (the drama first be­gan in 2011), the episodes (cen­sored ver­sions) would reach TV screens in In­dia months af­ter their US re­lease.

The first episode of Sea­son 7 went live on Hotstar Pre­mium on July 17; ev­ery Mon­day at 7:30 am, a new episode is made avail­able on the sub­scrip­tion-led sec­tion of the plat­form (at `199 per month).

Tor­rent addicts have, col­lec­tively, been in a quandary since last year, be­cause ‘tor­rentz’, the largest tor­rent search en­gine, was ren­dered de­funct.

Star In­dia’s VOD plat­form, Hotstar, now streams the se­ries (un­cen­sored ver­sion) within a few hours of the US TV pre­miere.

The ‘Tor­rents Morghulis’ cam­paign com­prises three TVCs and 50 bill­boards across Mum­bai, Delhi and Ben­galuru. “Though this may not be a large num­ber per se, we have tar­geted spe­cific lo­ca­tions and used OOH as an ‘im­pact medium’ to fuel the con­ver­sa­tions around the cam­paign,” Sid­harth Shakd­her, head of acquisition and brand devel­op­ment, Hotstar, tells afaqs! Reporter.

The cam­paign was cre­ated in­ter­nally by Hotstar’s mar­ket­ing and creative com­mu­ni­ca­tion teams. A pro­duc­tion house called ‘Dukaan’ was roped in to pro­duce the films.

“The films are run­ning on se­lect chan­nels within the Star network as well as on chan­nels out­side the network that reach au­di­ences with pre­mium English con­tent affin­ity,” Shakd­her says, adding, “We have used dig­i­tal plat­forms in a tar­geted man­ner.”

“Print me­dia has not been utilised for the ‘Tor­rents Morghulis’ cam­paign,” he clar­i­fies.

Re­call that re­cently, Hotstar’s ri­val, Ama­zon Prime Video, a sub­scrip­tion­driven VOD plat­form, used print (ads in the Times of In­dia) to pro­mote a show called ‘In­side EDGE’.

“In terms of spends, share of voice or the num­ber of ac­ti­va­tions, this may not have been our most ag­gres­sive, non-sport­ing mar­ket­ing de­ploy­ment. But in terms of mes­sag­ing, this has prob­a­bly been our bold­est state­ment yet,” Shakd­her says.

The cam­paign, he says, is “a di­rect out­come of con­sumer close­ness as well as con­sumer re­search.”

Ex­plain­ing the in­sight, he tells, “In­dian au­di­ences are in­creas­ingly de­sirous of con­sum­ing the world’s best sto­ries at the same time as any­one else, un­spoiled and with­out ads or in­ter­rup­tions. With Hotstar, we have a plat­form that strives to re­duce the time gap be­tween In­dia and the west by bring­ing pre­mium con­tent min­utes af­ter it is aired in its home ter­ri­tory. In fact, Hotstar Pre­mium is the only bona fide online ser­vice that has brought ‘Game of Thrones’ to In­dia,” he says.

The cam­paign is de­signed to re­ward loy­al­ists of the show, as is ev­i­dent in the copy; for ex­am­ple, ‘Putin’ and ‘Broski’ are ref­er­ences that only those fa­mil­iar with the show will un­der­stand.

“Even be­yond the loy­al­ists, we are equally en­thused about get­ting first-time ‘Game of Thrones’ view­ers to ex­pe­ri­ence this show, un­spoiled, ad-free and min­utes af­ter Amer­ica,” says Shakd­her.

PROMO RE­VIEW

Gopa Ku­mar, VP, Iso­bar In­dia, a dig­i­tal agency, from the sta­ble of Dentsu Aegis Network, says, “I think the cam­paign does reach out to the hard­core GOT loy­al­ist and also reaches out to an ex­tended au­di­ence - peo­ple who may have heard of GOT from their friends who are hard­core fol­low­ers of the show. The cam­paign is a bold way to con­done the be­hav­iour of il­le­gal down­load­ing of the show through tor­rents; GOT is the high­est il­le­gally down­loaded con­tent in the world.”

He goes on, “The cam­paign also works be­cause of its hu­mor­ous tone; it deals lightly with the trou­ble peo­ple put them­selves through to find and down­load il­le­gal con­tent... the com­mu­ni­ca­tion also pushes in key USPs - ad-free, no pop-ups, English sub­ti­tles. Th­ese are all im­por­tant to any dis­cern­ing viewer to­day. The com­mu­ni­ca­tion is not preachy, the way most anti-piracy mes­sages tend to be.” ■

The ‘Tor­rents Morghulis’ cam­paign com­prises three TVCs and 50 bill­boards.

“The cam­paign is a bold way to con­done the be­hav­iour of il­le­gal down­load­ing of the show through tor­rents; GOT is the high­est il­le­gally down­loaded con­tent in the world.” GOPA KU­MAR

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