Benita Chacko

Netflix India's Red Notice promotions give fans a chance to shoplift

Debashish Ghosh, NCD, 22feet Tribal Worldwide, spoke to afaqs! on how they made people steal.

While watching Red Notice on Netflix did you at any time feel the desire to be a part of the heist and help steal Cleopatra’s three eggs? Was there a yearning to live that life on the edge? Or did you feel that you could have orchestrated the heist better?

Over 900 fans of the new Hollywood film got a chance to live that experience over the weekend (November 25-28) in Mumbai. As part of the promotions for the film, Netflix created a 3000 sq. ft. Red Notice Shop at Phoenix Palladium, Mumbai.

Well, the heist wasn’t as elaborate as the film but definitely quite elaborate for a Mumbai mall setting. Participants had to go through lasers, sensors, secret codes, CCTV cameras, alarms, and top-notch security to steal the three eggs.

What’s more? Unlike the characters of the film, one was not arrested for getting caught and instead was rewarded not only with Cleopatra’s eggs but also with goodies and merchandise on escaping.

Debashish Ghosh
Debashish Ghosh

In a conversation with afaqs!, Debashish Ghosh, National Creative Director, 22feet Tribal Worldwide, the agency that conceptualised it, said that they wanted to help viewers live the life of their favourite characters and allow them to be a part of a heist.

“While we live as per acceptable norms of the society, we all have some quirks in our mind, which we can’t experience because they are not acceptable. We love these movies as we can vicariously live our dreams through them. We would love to play the same role that our favourite stars play. So we thought through our promotion we should help people live that dream. So we created a shop where they can try stealing for themselves,” he said.

Zone 1
Zone 1

The shop operates on a simple philosophy- You can shop anything here for free. As long as you steal it and don't get caught, it's yours.

The shop was divided into two zones- Zone 1 with simple security and basic rewards like Netflix merchandise and brand vouchers, and Zone 2 with tighter security and high-value rewards like mobile phone, camera and speakers. Zone two is where the three eggs (the ones the characters in the film are after) are kept.

“The first zone was more like shoplifting with the basic kind of security and tech surveillance that most shops have- RFID tags, CCTV camera, etc. The second zone had the kind of protection that some high-value luxury brands have with lasers, LED floors, pressure pads and digital keys,” he added.

Participants had a time limit of five minutes to complete the heist successfully. In case they were caught they didn't get arrested, but they lost some amount of time.

“To pull off a real heist, the robber would do years of planning. But here people are just walking into the mall. So we decided to not disqualify someone if they get caught, but only reduce their time. Every time a laser touches them, they lose 20 seconds and every time they step on the wrong LED tile, they lose 10 second. So for a lot of people before they reached the end, they had lost all their time,” he explained.

Zone 2
Zone 2

After their idea was approved by the OTT platform, it took the agency and Netflix in-house team one and a half months to finalise the entire concept and another month to complete the production and create the entire set. During the planning process they considered many factors- from the most essential like the rewards to even the clothes people would be wearing when they come to visit a mall. They ensured that the activities were something people could easily pull off in their shopping attire. They started the planning with 50 tech elements in mind and finally filtered it down to six or seven.

“We hadn’t made anyone steal anything before. So we really had to think of everything from scratch from different points of view- a game show, a user experience, a tech surveillance and production design. We also had to think of the gratification. We had effectively set up a little war room with the agencies and the Netflix marketing team,” Ghosh said.

They took five to six days to finally set up the venue. They had fabricated the set and only had to assemble at the Palladium courtyard. Nature also played truant and the rains brought additional challenges.

All the hard work paid off when crowds poured in over the weekend to experience the heist. Participants had to register for the event and join the queue. In an hour 40 to 45 people would be in Zone one and only those who qualified would make it to zone two. Of the 900-1000 people who participated over the three days, only 14 managed to win the highest prize. “By four o'clock in the afternoon, all slots would be booked till nine.”

To generate buzz about the Shop, a promo film was launched online. It was followed by a series of short, tutorial videos featuring stand-up comic Prashasti Singh and popular actor Javed Jaffrey. In these tutorials, the duo is seen dodging the multiple security measures- failing at stealing but winning at bringing home the fun quotient.

Ghosh mentions that it is this online reach of the campaign that justifies the astronomical price of creating this campaign.

“It doesn’t reach offline alone. We would have never done this activity, if it wasn’t complemented online. Online gives you reach and offline gets engagement. People will never forget such an experience and we will be in their memory forever. For the people online, we’ve created enough FOMO,” he shared.

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