Marketing Gangnam style

Indian brands can piggyback on the Gangnam wave; however they should do it intelligently rather than force a brand fit, feel digital experts

e4m by Saloni Surti
Updated: Oct 9, 2012 7:59 PM
Marketing Gangnam style

South Korean pop star Psy, with his funky lyrics and the horse-riding step, has managed to create a digital landmark through his album ‘Gangnam Style’. While audiences worldwide have been tapping their foot to the Gangnam tune, India witnessed the Gangnam fever only a few weeks ago.

The K-Pop fervour has been making its presence felt in the nation through social networking. MTunes, with its property ‘MTunes AlterNative’, will be taking Gangnam Style ‘On the Streets’. There are also India versions of the song named ‘Oppa Indian Style’.

Major mainline newspapers and magazines across India have been speaking about Gangnam for its digital achievement so far. In the milieu of Gangnam craze and media recognition, are Indian brands and marketers looking at yet another opportunity to leverage a viral campaign for the promotion of their product?

“I think in some way brands can piggyback on the Gangnam wave, but they should try and do it intelligently, with reasonable level of original creativity rather than force a brand fit. Piggybacking on a current rage can also make the brand look uncool, unless they do it right,” said Anupam Mukherji, Co-Founder, Pitch Invasion.

MTS roped in teen singing sensation Shradha Sharma for its MTS Blaze TVC which received good response. Amul advertisements are also known for the way they take on any current topic to connect with the masses. Viral marketing has a lot of elements to it, and thus for any brand to create a successful integration, it needs to have an element of virality and create the right fit.

“Gangnam style appeals to the youth and is a hot topic of discussion currently. Brands leveraging it further seems like the most obvious route. It’s like a well-established brand helping another one get popular,” said Zafar Rais, Founder and CEO, MindShift Interactive.

According to Rais, while the advantage is that the branding is already done and hence acceptance is higher, the downside is the brand riding on it may get side lined.

India also saw the arrival of a ‘Gujarati Psy’ who went viral with his song ‘Bhai-Bhai’. Arvind Vegda was roped in by BJP to create some youthful Gujarati music for radio shows and BJP radio jingles. In 2011, the Kolaveri rage had also seen successful brand integrations such as Super Max blades that featured the song in its TVC.

While it might be a little too early to speak about whether brand integrations will be successful, a few strategic moves by a brand can ensure a winning digital campaign, shared the industry experts.

“A brand can look at starting a YouTube channel where they get people to upload their own version of Gangnam. Associate it with some reward – tangible or intangible. Promote it. Make it fun and cool. Make it less brand-centric and more people-centric,” added Mukherji.

Brands can also look at consumer engagement through activities such as flash mobs, memes, spoofs and games, said Rais.

With successful brand integrations with viral campaigns in the past, leveraging on the Gangnam craze is something Indian brands should definitely look into. What remains to see is which brands do it intelligently. If a perfect fit is created, Gangnam could be the new Kolaveri Di for brands.

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