Suraj Ramnath

ALTBalaji to Netflix: "Tum Karo Toh Lust Stories, Hum Kare Toh Gandii Baat"

Now OTT platforms take to ambush marketing. Here's the low-down.

Last Friday, June 15, Netflix launched its new anthology film, Lust Stories, that talks about love, lust, desires, and betrayal through four different stories in a two-hour film. On the same day, Balaji Telefilms-owned digital platform, ALTBalaji, decided to do a little ambush marketing. How? The subscription-based video on demand platform launched a digital ad on Twitter and on their Facebook page saying - Tum Karo Toh Lust Stories, Hum Kare Toh Gandii Baat.

Was there a deeper reason for the tweet other than just a marketing ploy? Yes.

ALTBalaji had launched its own webseries, Gandii Baat, in the first week of May which also features 4 stories (name of the episodes - Threesome, Tharki Buddha, Vasu Nag and Preeto Rani) that focus on lust, desires and betrayal.

ALTBalaji to Netflix: "Tum Karo Toh Lust Stories, Hum Kare Toh Gandii Baat"

ALTBalaji's Facebook campaign
Click on the image to enlarge

While Lust Stories focuses on stories from urban India, Gandii Baat focuses on stories from rural India. Gandii Baat has been directed by Sachin Mohite. Lust Stories has been jointly produced by Ronnie Screwvala and Ashi Dua and directed by four different Bollywood directors - Zoya Akhtar, Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap, and Dibakar Banerjee. The star cast of the movie also features known Bollywood actors like Manisha Koirala, Radhika Apte and Bhumi Pednekar among others. The cast of Gandii Baat features known TV and theatre actors such as Narayani Shashtri and Neetha Shetty among others.

ALTBalaji to Netflix: "Tum Karo Toh Lust Stories, Hum Kare Toh Gandii Baat"

Lust Stories trailer

While the topic might seem quite similar (lust, desire, betrayal), between both the series launched by respective platforms, they cater to completely different audiences. The language used in Lust Stories is Hindi and English and in Gandii Baat it's Hindi and a bit of Haryanvi.

ALTBalaji to Netflix: "Tum Karo Toh Lust Stories, Hum Kare Toh Gandii Baat"

Gandii Baat trailer

We asked our digital experts if both webseries cater to different sets of audiences, then do they see a merit in doing this particular campaign and is it ambush marketing according to them as well.

ALTBalaji to Netflix: "Tum Karo Toh Lust Stories, Hum Kare Toh Gandii Baat"

Carlton D'Silva

ALTBalaji to Netflix: "Tum Karo Toh Lust Stories, Hum Kare Toh Gandii Baat"

Navin Kansal

ALTBalaji to Netflix: "Tum Karo Toh Lust Stories, Hum Kare Toh Gandii Baat"

Anish Varghese

Carlton D'Silva, chief executive officer and chief creative officer, Hungama Digital Services, says, "There is always merit is doing a campaign that makes you take notice. The fact that we are talking about it now shows that it has had the desired effect. We are getting into the space where original programming will become a deciding factor for garnering downloads/ installs. I think the fact that ALTBalaji had a head start in this space in India, only seems fair that they reemphasise the same."

D'Silva believes it is ambush marketing and it doesn't matter which medium ALTBalaji has chosen to do it on. "Twitter is pretty much mainstream now", he adds.

Navin Kansal, chief creative officer, 21N78E, on Lust, as a topic, says, "The A-list directors helming Lust Stories as well as the star cast, have all contributed to creating a buzz in mainstream media and otherwise."

According to Kansal, the Gandii Baat tweet is not really ambush marketing as much as a cheeky attempt by ALTBalaji to insinuate itself into the conversation on social streams. "It hasn't cost them a penny, so while the audience for Gandii Baat is different from Lust Stories, it just brings Gandii Baat to the fore. As the new-age saying goes - 'No News is Bad News', so if the opportunity exists, there's no harm in piggybacking on something that is already making news", he adds.

Anish Varghese, national creative director, Isobar, sees a merit in ALTBalaji's campaign. "They are trying to step onto another set of audiences, which is urban. It helps them take advantage of attaining a bigger fan-base and viewership", he says.

For Varghese, the idea of promoting these ads on Twitter and Facebook works. "That's how they can generate curiosity/ conversations which result in people looking for the content. Undoubtedly, the 'kind of content' is going to grab a lot more eyeballs, compared to the campaign", he adds.

We further asked these experts if it would have been a good idea for ALTBalaji to go a step further by doing a YouTube pre-roll ad of Gandii Baat's trailer when Netflix launched its trailer for Lust Stories.

D'Silva says, "To each its own. I feel ALTBalaji needed to do the promotion because of the reach they desired and when it comes to Netflix, a trailer (with a number of billboards) should be enough for targeting their TG."

Kansal says, "While that would have been ambush marketing, purely from media money efficacies, it would have been wasted since the consumption audience for both is markedly different as a demographic."

For Varghese too, the current strategy of promoting on Twitter and Facebook is ideal. "In my opinion, the strategy is ideal for the kind of content they have, it's perfect when people find it," he adds.