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Streaming giants take up desi ways to promote international shows

Over-the-top (OTT) video streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+Hotstar, which have budgets of more than ₹20 crore per show, are going beyond dubbing and subtitling in local languages and investing heavily in engaging Indian stars and influencers to popularize their global hits in the country.

The platforms are also focusing on exceedingly localized brand collaborations and social media innovation to build franchise and fan engagement for international shows in India.

For the latest season of Money Heist, Netflix launched an anthem featuring Indian actors Anil Kapoor and Rana Daggubati.

It also collaborated with Pepsi for a digital film featuring Tiger Shroff. For The Tomorrow War, Amazon had lead actor Chris Pratt interact with Bollywood star Varun Dhawan. For its latest original Cinderella, social media influencer Kusha Kapila curated a thematic video.

Disney+ Hotstar had lead actor of Loki, Tom Hiddleston, post a special message for India talking about his connection with the country.

The appeal of international programming in India and the large population that has the potential to come on board just by word of mouth is a huge opportunity, said OTT platform executives. This pushes them to look for innovative ways to engage with consumers, they said.

“Localization does not mean just dubbing or adding subtitles, but also how we position the title keeping in mind cultural nuances. This includes deploying marketing campaigns that do full justice to the international title and yet feel local, curating media plans to ensure relevant customers easily become aware, and even working with our local originals talent to build excitement for these international titles,” said Sushant Sreeram, director, marketing, Amazon Prime Video India.

For instance, for The Tomorrow War, the idea was to strengthen the local affinity and popularity of lead actor Chris Pratt, Sreeram said. To trigger conversations ahead of the launch, the service collaborated with Varun Dhawan for a series of interactions with Pratt, both face-to-face and over social media, breaking down the premise of the movie, Pratt’s experience being a part of it, and Dhawan introducing the star to Bollywood music.

For Godzilla vs. Kong, Amazon created a monster-verse video in Tamil and Telugu with a recap of the whole Godzilla and Kong story, which was dubbed by Vijay Devarakonda in Telugu and Dulquer Salman in Tamil. “Bringing in this local flavour and making popular local faces a part of the campaign, along with building an element of ‘backstory’ into the marketing campaign, not only helped build curiosity for the film but also drove relevance among customers,” said Sreeram.

Lionsgate India’s streaming platform collaborated with actors Ananya Panday and Tiger Shroff to introduce international shows such as Normal People, Manhunt: Deadly Games and No Man’s Land as part of a campaign called #Playmorebrowseless. “We keep engaging with celebrities and influencers for promotion. There is a robust demand for premium content from Indian-language users,” said Amit Dhanuka, executive vice-president, Lionsgate India.

Platforms pump money behind legacy shows to build perception and also to acquire new subscribers, pointed out Harikrishnan Pillai, chief executive officer (CEO) and co-founder of digital agency TheSmallBigIdea.

“The objective of these efforts is to highlight the presence of these legacy shows in pop culture and everyday conversation,” Pillai said.

OTTs have made the popularity (of content) more visible and transparent (through reactions on social media),” said Amyn Ghadiali, vice-president, strategy and business at Gozoop Group, a Mumbai-based marketing agency.

“So when shows tend to get a cult or mass following, social media chatter reflects it. Eventually, it leads to social viewership as word-of-mouth increases,” he said.

The main strategy of these platforms is to go from global to local, said Manika Juneja, executive vice-president, operations at digital marketing agency WATConsult. The target group, their interests and consumption patterns all play a big role. This also helps them reach new markets, said Shrenik Gandhi, chief executive and co-founder at digital agency White Rivers Media, adding that more than 76% people look at localised content, while choosing a streaming service.

“These campaigns that leave no stone unturned go to prove that these shows have an active fan base in India and that the country is prominent from a strategy point of view for the platforms,” Mehul Gupta, co-founder and CEO at SoCheers, an independent digital agency said. Live Mint

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