Buzz Power 2008: Big is not always best

By , agencyfaqs!, Mumbai | In Marketing | February 15, 2008
Arun Mehra, chief marketing officer, Zapak Digital Entertainment, talked about the challenge of creating the gaming category in India at the time of the launch of Zapak and making a success out of the brand

When a brand category doesn't & #BANNER1 & #exist, is it possible for a brand to relate with consumers and create a buzz in the market? The Zapak gaming portal was launched at the end of 2006. According to Arun Mehra, chief marketing officer, Zapak Digital Entertainment, the biggest challenge for them at that time was to create a brand which would create the gaming category in India and appeal to the youth in an aspirational, vibrant and irreverent way.

Mehra believes that buzz created through non-traditional mediums such as word of mouth yield far superior results than conventional advertising. According to him, one of the greatest buzz marketers history has ever witnessed was Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi was able to convert small and minute things into big national movements. This philosophy of 'Small is Big' was adopted by Zapak and it became one of the important catalysts in making the Zapak brand a buzzword amongst consumers.

Zapak concentrated on doing lots of little things and making sure that it reached the consumers at all possible touch-points. The virals created for the brand were quick paced, highlighting the fast and simple email proposition for its community email, called Zapak Mail. One of the virals showed a guy simply kissing his wife and her getting pregnant at once. Another one depicted a funeral, where, without saying any prayers, everyone dumps the dead man into the grave and rushes away. The company claims that the virals created for the brand received more than half a million views on Youtube alone and one million plus views on other video sites. These virals were later adopted as television commercials.

Arun Mehra Apart from the virals, the brand engaged its target audience by conducting innovative ambient activities and road shows. During the launch phase, Zapak placed posters titled Easy Downloads in toilets and Easy Uploads at the base of escalators in various malls and multiplexes across the country. The message exemplified the easy game downloading and uploading quality of the gaming portal. An outdoor site was put up in cities such as Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, where a man demonstrated rock climbing to passers by. The proposition was: 'Play Dangerously at'. Similarly, a fashion show was staged at which the models were dressed up as the gaming characters featured on the Zapak portal.

Mehra said that creating buzz around recent happenings was another catalyst that was crucial in making the Zapak brand popular among the masses. For instance, when the stock market crashed by 400 points, Zapak urged people to log on to the website and win money by playing cash games. When the film, Spiderman 3, was released in the country, Zapak launched a commercial for Zapak Mail titled Spider-Men 4. The commercial showed four men dressed up as Spidermen and ended right there, maintaining the fast and simple email brand proposition.

A Zapak user posted a video on a video website, which was a spoof of the famous scene from the Hindi film, Deewaar. It had subtitles and the dubbed voices of actors Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor and Nirupa Roy, all of them fighting over playing games on the Zapak portal. In all, there were more than 10 popular virals across video sharing websites and close to 100 communities on social networking website Orkut. Subsequently, with its growing brand image, Zapak built alliances with advertisers such as Pepsi, McDonald's, ZOD Clothing and MTV, which created value worth Rs 4.28 crore.

Mehra said that even if a brand receives negative publicity due to unforeseen circumstances, it can be transformed into an opportunity. For instance, the Zapak Mail Rocket Raja campaign had to be called off because of protests from Indian postmen because, apparently, it showed them in a bad light. Although the campaign was stopped, it did help in creating a buzz about the brand.

Currently, Zapak claims to have four million registered users on its website. It is the fourth most recalled website, according to the IMRB, and has 150 plus advertisers as its clients.

Mehra affirmed that it is not necessary to have big advertising budgets to make brands successful. It is the communication idea that holds more relevance than the execution. Marketers should think 'buzz' before starting their advertising campaigns and should believe in breaking all myths for budgets.

The event was sponsored by Kingfisher, NIA and Orienta Cine Advertising.