Shreyas Kulkarni

Rupal 'Kokilaben' Patel of 'Rasode Mein Kaun Tha' fame in Paytm ad

We spoke to Abhinav Kumar, VP, product marketing, Paytm, about the brand's timely outing.

Nobody expected a 57-second video of TV soap 'Saath Nibhana Saathiya', which was edited into a catchy song, to reach 48 million views on YouTube in only three weeks. But it did, and for a while 'Yeh Rashi Thi' became India’s go-to anthem. The video featured mother-in-law and intimidator-in-chief 'Kokilaben' interrogate her daughter-in-law.

It’s an apt illustration of the power memes, GIFs, and snappy edits of movie/TV clips hold in our lives. The moment this video ‘dropped’, brands, ad agencies and creators ran to their workstations to create witty content around it to catch the attention of their audiences on social media.

Such was the impact of the video that 'Kokilaben', played by actress Rupal Patel, landed herself a Paytm ad. This time, 'Kokilaben' is not out to find out who was in the 'Rasode', but to find who was behind that obviously fraudulent Paytm call.

It’s not the only ad from the leading payments app on ‘fraud calls’. Last week, Paytm released one featuring social media influencer Saloni Gaur. She essayed the role of a fraudster who tries to get an old lady (also played by Gaur) to download an app to complete KYC and reactivate the Paytm wallet, but the lady hilariously calls her out.

Interestingly, in both ads, fraudsters target older people. So, are they the prime target? Also, we at afaqs! felt that Paytm was a tad bit late to the party. The virality of the 'Kokilaben' video has started fading... And it’s only because other brands, such as Indian Oil, reached the party late that Paytm has been able to leverage the trend.

Abhinav Kumar
Abhinav Kumar

We reached out to Abhinav Kumar, VP, product marketing, Paytm, to understand the motivation to use Gaur and Patel in its ads. Said Kumar, “A brand's long-term resilience and recall lies in adaptability and staying in tune with current trends.”

He credited Gaur's satirical and humorous take on news, and musician Yashraj Mukhate, who turned a scene from Patel's previous show into a song (that went viral), for the success. "... It made sense for us to capitalise on the ongoing trend. We knew they would be effective in delivering an important public service message in a manner that is not only understood, but also liked and shared by our users," stated Kumar.

Why fraud calls?

When asked about the reason to talk about ‘fraud calls’, Kumar said that it has become important to create awareness around how to stay safe, while transacting online. He added that fraudsters have been relentless in trying to dupe users through phone calls, SMSes and chat apps. “As leaders in the industry, we have taken upon ourselves to raise awareness and educate citizens,” said Kumar.

What’s striking here is the fact that an industry leader also has to depend on the popularity and virality of a video to get its message across to a diverse set of audience.

Commenting on Paytm’s use of ‘fraud calls’ in its ads, Ashok Lalla, an independent digital business advisor, said, “The fraud calls are not just a fear to address, but quite a rampant reality for customers.”

Ashok Lalla
Ashok Lalla

Lalla said it’s a good initiative that is very important and pertinent. “With the forthcoming festive season, being aware and not falling for such frauds is all the more relevant. And such communication should continue till the time customers are made aware and the frauds reduce.”

Lalla added that Paytm will (separately) focus on promoting its festive offers and driving users to shop via the app...

Under pressure

Brands these days are under tremendous pressure to stay in vogue, and so they try to outdo each other on those 'moment marketing' opportunities.

Prathap Suthan
Prathap Suthan

Prathap Suthan, managing partner and chief creative officer, Bang In The Middle, says that while it’s important for brands to be visible and go with the flow, piggybacking on trends, etc., is more fraught with risk. Unless you do one better than the original, or you push yourself to deliver something which takes the meme to the next level, it’s a waste of money and effort.

“No point being a tame follower, and 99.99 per cent of what currently happens is good money sloshing down the drain,” remarked Suthan, adding that it makes sense to do it if it is relevant to the brand and its category, and if it, at some level, adds to the selling effort.

According to Suthan, brands are certainly not built on memes, and it takes a prudent client to decide if his/her brand needs to surf the meme of the day. “Consumers aren’t going to fall off a brand because you didn’t do the ‘chicken’, or the ‘fried potato’ meme. They have too many other things to worry about and clap for,” he signed off.

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