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.
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.
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