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Can Katrina Kaif help Line win the mobile messenger battle?

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Can Katrina Kaif help Line win the mobile messenger battle?

Japan-based Line messenger has gone out all guns blazing in India by roping in youth diva Katrina Kaif as its ambassador. The development comes close on the heels of the messenger service making its free call and messaging service available in Hindi and Tamil in India. All the recent measures are taken in sync with the messenger company’s aim of garnering 20 million downloads in India by the end of 2013.

Indian mobile messenger market is almost at saturation, level with the recent addition of BBM on Android and iOS platform. In lieu of the stiff competition, Line is hoping to bank on the festive fervour in the county. While increasing sale of smartphones during this period will act as leverage, Katrina is expected to trigger downloads by promoting the messenger’s free calling service.

Commenting on the initiative, Akira Morikawa, CEO, Line Corporation said, “With the help of our marketing partnership with Katrina Kaif, along with other partnerships with entities in India, we are confident that we can surpass 20 million users by the end of the year.”
The messenger service boasts of 10 million downloads within three months of its launch in India, which was in July 2013. To keep the momentum ongoing, the messenger service has partnered with Sony India, which will ensure the service is pre-loaded on Xperia Z1 and Xperia C models. Sony Music Entertainment shall open an official account on the messenger service to cater to its fans. Line will also leverage the Bollywood craze of the country by associating with big ticket films such as Krrish 3 and Dhoom 3.

While Line graphically seems on the correct route, the question is whether association with a Bollywood actress can get the brand in the league of WhatsApp, which currently has near to 250 million users in the country?

Indian consumers are driven by tinsel town dwellers’ style and likes, and thus taking Katrina Kaif can be considered a right step. However, the Indian market as of now is flooded with a high celebrity quotient, wherein one star presents a number of brands and thus, the possibility of Line’s communication drowning out is quite high. Katrina Kaif is mainly associated with mango drink Slice, Olay, Lux, Choc On, Pantene and Veet.  Nonetheless, the brand is going all out across all platforms.

WeChat also recently announced plans of associating with more films after the success of Shudh Desi Romance and is expected to take its marketing activities a notch up soon. BBM has been already active on the front to promote its recent development. In the current market scenario, Line needs to make a lot of noise to create a connect with users.

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Prior to joining Madison PR in 2012 Chaudhary was Group President Corporate Communications at Reliance Industries Limited.