#HappyAtHome's first edition saw 6 million unique views in one weekend, says Gunjan Arya

Gunjan Arya, CEO of OML India, talks about bringing their most successful on-ground event, Bacardi NH7 Weekender to stuck at home consumers with the #HappyAtHome edition

e4m by Sanstuti Nath
Updated: Apr 29, 2020 9:11 AM
Gunjan Arya

OML has announced that it is bringing BACARDÍ NH7 Weekender to our homes, a series of online music festivals that will bring together artists across genres to live stream performances every weekend starting Friday 27th March.

Bacardi NH7 Weekender’s #HappyAtHome edition will bring together artists such as Marty Friedman, FKJ, Ritviz, Sickflip and Abish Mathew to live stream performances every weekend (Friday to Sunday) from 6 pm to 9 pm.

We talk to Gunjan Arya, CEO, Only Much Louder (OML), about the reason behind bringing one of OML's most successful on-ground event into the digital space and their strategy to stay relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Edited excerpts:

NH7 Weekender is one of the largest on-ground music festivals in India. What prompted you to bring the festival on digital space, that too before the annual schedule?

In a time when we are all self-quarantining and are shaken by the pandemic that is Coronavirus, the Bacardi NH7 Weekender family attempts to give everybody a little bit of comfort with entertainment sessions every weekend. We’re very grateful that we’re all coming together as a community, musicians, Bacardi and OML alike – to spread some happiness and joy in this time of uncertainty.

In times of COVID-19, when the event industry is expected to face billions of loss, what's OML's strategy to navigate through the pandemic?

We are very cautious about spending this time repositioning our artists and services, ready to bounce back when all is normal, but some lessons are only learnt when we are forced to innovate. And a big part of that will come from us pushing ourselves and artists to try newer formats – the Bacardi NH7 Weekender going Live from Instagram and TikTok is a great example of us working across disciplines, teams and continued support from brands. While the natural reaction to a crisis is to hunker down and protect the short-term, we must look long term. Thank god for the Internet! 

How important does the subtlety of brand placement become in times of crisis? 

More than subtlety, it is the intentionality of the messaging around brands that is critical - and even more so during crises. Discombobulated fans and artists alike have been looking to each other for support during self-isolation, and the Bacardi NH7 Weekender has turned up as the platform to bring some comfort and joy to their living rooms, streamed through their phones – which is the very promise of the festival. It's always been the Happiest Music Festival.

What's the TG of #HappyAtHome? Are you planning to expand the audience base through digitization of the event?

The Bacardi NH7 Weekender programming has always been inclusive to every music palate and has drawn fans from families to college students alike. By having a diverse line-up that features international acts, indie bands, upcoming beatboxers, Bollywood musicians and more, we've always had something for every kind of music lover. And going online, we've found a wider audience that isn't necessarily restricted with having to be physically present in Pune or Shillong on the very days of the festival. The first digital edition of the festival itself saw a massive draw - we reached 6 million unique views in one weekend alone.

How important has digital become for reaching out to consumers?

While viewers will spend more time-consuming content during this period, free to view platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok will drive most incremental consumption over the next few months in addition to online gaming. While we now have the opportunity to leverage creator and artists content to increase engagement and awareness, retain recall and drive at-home consumption, we need to be innovative about content formats that work, are lean-to produce and have quicker turnaround times.

With consumers being homebound, based on patterns already seen in China, we see at-home consumption of products and entertainment increasing. In China, we saw this play out when the theatrical release of the blockbuster Chinese New Year film “Lost in Russia” was cancelled and released online for free where it was watched by 180 million viewers in its first three days in comparison to China’s all-time highest-grossing movie which sold 159 million tickets.

What are your current marketing and advertising channels? 

Actually none. With more than twenty years of experience supporting artists through representation and promotion, we've continually seen the power that art has had in lifting spirits through trying times, and we're really lucky to have this opportunity to support the music fraternity and larger artists community at large through the festival and the amplification for it. We are spending everything on artists and creators. Apart from being the biggest champions for the cause right now, they are our most wide-reaching channels of communication to fans as well.

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