afaqs! news bureau

Digitas elevates Duolingo to Tollywood stardom

Digitas India's creative campaign, drawing inspiration from Tollywood, transforms Duo from a global star to a regional sensation.

Duolingo, the language-learning app, has now added Telugu to its list of supported Indian languages, alongside existing Hindi and Bengali courses.

Digitas India, the agency-on-record (AOR) of Duolingo, has created a social-focused campaign to raise awareness about the app’s new Telugu-to-English course in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, where Telugu is spoken.

While people in this region are skilled and ready to face the world, their confidence often takes a hit owing to difficulties in communicating effectively in English.

With this insight in mind, Digitas India created Duolingo’s 'Go from a star to a global star' campaign, incorporating elements from the Telugu film industry popularly known as ‘Tollywood’.

The objective of the campaign is to encourage users in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to learn English using their local language. It not only helps them gain conversational confidence but also empowers them to pursue their global aspirations.

Digitas India’s social strategy utilised Instagram to showcase Duolingo's beloved mascot, Duo, arriving and touring Hyderabad. It included collaborations with local content creators, interactions with the community, a rap track with a local artist, and even a mega-public unveiling with a massive Tollywood-style cutout of himself. The goal was to build affinity and reaffirm the ease of learning English for Telugu speakers.

To merge global success from epic Telugu action-drama film RRR and the local Tollywood scene, Digitas India envisioned a 60-foot cutout of Duo, resembling the iconic movie superstars' cutouts. These were hand-drawn by artists from one of the last surviving establishments of its kind in South India. The cutout depicted Duo's arrival in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, and its unveiling attracted well-known local creators who collaborated with Duo to create content about the launch.

To emphasise the enjoyable and free nature of Duolingo's lessons, Digitas India also partnered with Roll Rida, a renowned Telugu rapper known for numerous Tollywood tracks. Together, they created a Telugu rap song that tells the story of how mastering English on Duolingo can transform anyone from a local star to a global sensation for Telugu speakers.

Abraham Varughese, CCO, Digitas India says “What a blast we had working on this campaign! From identifying local barriers to English fluency and unraveling cultural nuances, we took all that we learnt from the success of our brand strategy for Duolingo in India and brought it to life with Duo’s pushy motivation, irreverent humour and an authentic Telugu makeover.”

Karandeep Singh Kapany, country marketing manager at Duolingo India says, “Telugu is one of the top 20 most spoken languages globally and we are happy to introduce a new Indic language course that helps Telugu speakers learn English. Our social-first campaign titled ‘Star Nunchi Global Star Avandi’ (From Local to Global Star) in collaboration with Digitas was aimed at referencing elements from the Tollywood industry. Digitas has played a pivotal role in making this campaign a remarkable success by keeping the brand’s authenticity alive and seamlessly blending elements which are specific to the heartland of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.”

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