'Love for Paatal Lok inspired a huge wave of fan-led marketing'

Gaurav Gandhi, Director & Country GM, Amazon Prime Video India, discusses how limited choices for marketing during the lockdown pushed them to go even bigger on social and digital media

e4m by Sonam Saini
Updated: Jun 16, 2020 9:30 AM  | 5 min read
Paatal lok

The Amazon Prime Video offering Paatal Lok has created a legion of fans in viewers and critics alike. The nine-part series, which was released on May 15, has been created by Sudip Sharma and directed by Avinash Arun and Prosit Roy. Produced by Anushka Sharma’s  Clean Slate Films, the series follows the story of an honest cop investigating an assassination attempt on a well-known journalist.

Brilliant writing and casting aside,  Paatal Lok's popularity can also be credited to Amazon Prime's decision to amplify its social and digital media approach for the show. Director and Country General Manager, Gaurav Gandhi shared that during lockdown the media choices for marketing was limited, so they decided to go even bigger on social and digital media (with support from TV).  

While this lockdown might have stopped people from going out, it couldn’t stop OTT platforms from reaching out to its audience and one such example was Paatal Lok.

In the past, we have seen video streaming services using Out Of Home (OOH) in a big way to promote its upcoming series. However, in COVID times, Prime Video might not have put up big hoardings of Paatal Lok across the city but created and marketed the show in a bigger way on other platforms and created a strong buzz about the show. 

 Paatal Lok’s marketing campaign had three dimensions to it. The first was to bring the title to life ‘Paatal Lok’ – a word derived from Indian mythology, and make it relevant and contextual for audiences. “We borrowed the concept of the three realms – Paatal Lok, Swarg lok, Dharti lok - layering them with present-day context, to construct a relatable yet intriguing concept. Central to the campaign was the concept, story and the characters – and that really was the core of the campaign. Haathiram, Hathoda Tyagi, Sanjeev Mehra were all powerful characters and we put them in the context of the three realms. The third element of the campaign was the unique visual language of the show, which made it totally stand out,” shared Gaurav Gandhi, Director and Country General Manager, Amazon Prime Video India. 

Gandhi said that the unique thing about the phases of this campaign was that in addition to their efforts (of anticipation, launch and sustenance), the love for the show inspired a huge wave of ‘fan’ led marketing. To top all the great critic and media reviews, the show created a pop culture moment of its own that saw fan-art to memes to other brand’s doing ‘moment marketing’ using the three realms – Paatal Lok, Swarg lok, Dharti lok.  All of it further added to the show’s appeal and fandom.

Many brands like Parle-G, Baskin Robbins, Paytm, Pulse, Swiggy and others used the show as a moment marketing strategy, which too helped the series to create the buzz. “Paatal Lok saw a huge organic flow of memes, which shows fandom and love for the show and its characters. The format for the distinctly different realms of the show was introduced by us on the trailer launch day to contextualize the three loks, and once audiences got intrigued and connected with it, several brands took note of the same and tapped on it for their social communication thus further propelling it into a big pop-cultural moment,” explained Gandhi. 

While speaking more about the campaign, Gandhi said that with the growing popularity of the show, the distinctly different worlds of the show or the ‘Loks’ have become a pop-cultural reference. This thought was seeded by the marketing team in the early stages of the campaign along with a distinct visual identity. The campaign kicked off with an intriguing teaser, which was originally supposed to be filmed, but the team quickly pivoted to create an animated spot (given the lockdown), with Jaideep Ahlawat (Haathiram) lending his powerful voice to it.   

Due to the absence of OOH, many platforms have shifted their spends from OOH to other mediums. In the past, Prime Video has used OOH for many of its original shows like Breathe, Mirzapur and Inside Edge. 

“We realised that given the lockdown, the media choices will be limited so the team decided to go even bigger on social and digital media (with support from TV).  The campaign had a lot of hooks to engage and build intrigue – a good example of this would be the cryptic significance behind the time of the release of the trailer i.e. 11:34 am IST.  The time, if read upside down, spells HELL (Paatlal) – and this was only revealed when we provided a preview of the trailer on the microsite 12 hours before its official release at 11:34 pm IST.” 

He further added, “The talent, creators and the team at Amazon Prime Video continued to build on the excitement for the customers using themes linked to the ‘Loks’, ‘visual language’ or now  ‘iconic’ dialogues from the trailer right till the day of launch. 24 hours before the show’s launch, the creators, producers and talent of the show turned their Twitter profile pictures upside down to build the narrative of an upside-down/inverted world.” 

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