Aditya Jaishankar
Guest Article

How a show named Lupin fixed an appointment with me

Our guest author lists a three step approach to making sure video content lands up on a consumer's watch list.

A job list, in my mind, was always about a to-do list of tasks and jobs. Lists to be done for the household, lists to be completed at the workplace. Yes, but there was also something else that I realised became a part of my job list. Shows on television were a must-watch.

In the days of Doordarshan and early days of cable satellite TV, it was easy for a show to become a part of one’s job list. The choice was less. Remember Star Trek on Sunday mornings as a kid? Remember Yeh Jo Hain Zindagi?

Time passed by and the cable satellite regime, with the saas-bahu soaps and reality shows, took over, leading to a huge prime time battle. As prime time battle got hotter and hotter, the task became tougher, but life was still about appointment viewing.

You had to somehow make sure that the consumer would fix an appointment with you at around 9 or 10 p.m. if you were a prime time soap or a reality show. TRP ratings rose and fell, and every week was a frantic attempt to own a slot in the consumer’s mind.

While this was, by no means, easy appointment viewing, it still meant that you could drive in a time slot in the consumer’s mind. Circa 2021, we are spoilt for choice in the OTT world. We sometimes have a tough time even choosing what we want to watch.

There are too many recommendations for our peers. Did you watch The Family Man (Season 2)? Did you watch Paatal Lok? Did you watch How to become a Tyrant, a playbook for those aspiring to be the next Hitler? Added to the complexity, people watch when they choose to watch. The appointment factor is missing.

Is there a method to become a part of the consumer’s job list? While blockbuster content sells by itself, there could still be other great pieces of content that could be left behind simply because the techniques to become part of a consumer’s job list was, perhaps, not focused enough. How can content become a part of the consumer’s job list?

Step 1 — Create FOMO

Engineer conversations around what’s so interesting or unique about a show. Incentivise/reward people, who have watched the show earlier, to keep sharing on social media. Do enough to keep the early adopters motivated enough to fuel conversations.

Create a Pehla Kaun movement - who is the first to know certain things about a show kind of feel, to feel the need to be ahead of the curve versus one's peers when it comes to discussing things about a show. Create special behind the scenes tidbits to further fuel conversations.

When everyone around is discussing something, it automatically triggers a need for you to update yourself or be a part of the conversations. Being an integral part of a conversation is a decent motivator for people to fill themselves in with even a part of a show, if not the whole show.

Aditya Jaishankar
Aditya Jaishankar

Creating FOMO may be the easier part, but how does one ensure that FOMO translates to the show becoming a part of your job list.

Just like the purchase funnel for other categories, one needs to work hard to ensure that the consumer does not slip out of the FOMO stage, as time is limited and one may easily get distracted by another exciting show that comes his/her way.

Step 2 — Create the need for an appointment

It does not necessarily have to be a fixed time slot. It could be about trying to own a consumer’s weekend after a tough week. It could be about enabling him to escape from a mundane Monday. It could about a high in the middle of a routine week.

An appointment that caters to a mindset and a mental space, as opposed to a fixed time. For example, The Family Man (Season 2) was binge-watched by a lot of people I know on a Friday night. They, perhaps, just wanted to watch and completely get an escape from the mundane week that went by.

I read a few posts about Lupin being awesome and adding up in a slow intriguing manner, and felt that intrigue would be ideal to fill up my Saturday.

Step 3 — Create a mood calendar to strategically close the appointment

Unlike a work meeting or a doctor’s appointment, entertainment can easily be replaced. There are many distractions and one can easily be swayed by another means that fulfils the same need of excitement, escape or freedom from boredom. Even a drink with a friend can compete with your Netflix time on a Friday night.

One way to compete against those distractions is to, perhaps, create a universal mood calendar that works largely across a diverse set of consumers. We all know how mundane Mondays can be, how relaxing a Sunday can be, how a Sunday evening once again can remind us of the Monday morning blues. These are universal truths and cut across the majority of the working population. A similar exercise can be done for homemakers, children and other cohorts.

Opportunities to target the consumers in a manner that they look at content as mood-altering or mood-enhancing tools could be an impactful way to become a part of his job list. Even a specific character may have a certain feel or tone that is ideal for the consumer’s frame of mind on a Sunday night.

With choices becoming more diverse and more blockbusters (around), fixing an appointment with the consumer/viewer is going to become increasingly difficult. A deeper understanding beyond mere customer segmentation to deeper mood segmentation will, perhaps, be more fruitful.

A day in the life of the consumer, with different perspectives, to finding a way into the consumer’s everyday lives will, perhaps, decide which content providers will be the winners in future.

(The author is founder of Voxbox, an app for children. He's also ex-South India planning head, McCann. This article first appeared on his Medium blog and has been reproduced with permission.)