Benita Chacko

“Wanted to make entrepreneurship mainstream among Tier-I, II audiences”: White Rivers Media’s Shrenik Gandhi on 'Shark Tank India'

A month after the Sony TV show ended, it is still much-loved in the digital world. The co-founder and chief executive officer of the show's digital partner, sheds light on its strategy that has given it an after-life.

“Yeh sab doglapan hai.” “Yeh meri expertise nahin hai. So, I’m out.” “Hum bhi bana lenge.” Familiar lines? Of course! You must have seen a dozen memes about it on social media. Although these lines were spoken during Shark Tank India’s episodes, they gained more popularity in the digital universe. In fact, the show itself gained a life of its own on the digital medium.

A part of the credit for this, goes to the Mumbai-based agency White Rivers Media, which handled Shark Tank India’s digital mandate. Starting with the registration phase, the agency played a pivotal role in reaching out to the incubator community, college alumni and co-working spaces, encouraging participation in the show.

It also created exclusive social media pages, on Twitter and Instagram, to engage with the audience. It gained 750,000-plus followers in no time and went on to become the one-stop destination for everything related to ‘Shark Tank India, with its viral posts.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Shrenik Gandhi</p></div>

Shrenik Gandhi

“One of the core tasks was to make entrepreneurship mainstream and celebratory among Tier-I and II audiences,” says Shrenik Gandhi, co-founder and chief executive officer, White Rivers Media.

The agency executed a 100-hour countdown on social media leading to the launch of ‘Shark Tank India’, thereby building intrigue and urgency around the show through content that explained the format and gave a sneak peek of the ‘Sharks’. It created a lot of content with the ‘Sharks’ and posted 10 updates on an average per day for around 75 days, on Instagram.

The agency has worked with several films and television shows in the past. Most remarkable among them include the popular web series ‘Scam 1992’. With this show too, one saw many dialogues taking iconic status on social media, becoming memes, Reels and GIFs. What is the role of an agency in creating an after-life for a show on social media?

“Things become a cult organically. There was a lot of inorganic and organic content, which was created to push the right message. We have to make the audiences curious, and amplify their curiosity using the right type of communication, content and shouldered content that is taking support from meme and parallel pages,” Gandhi explains.

But once a content is on social media, the followers tend to control the narrative. It is entirely up to them on how they will perceive it, share it and eventually make it viral. How does the agency direct and regulate the conversation to make it in the brand’s favour?

“You can't regulate content on social media. While marketing the film 'Zero', we would get 25,000 tweets a day, for an entire month. It is humanly impossible to monitor that content and drive a narrative around it,” Gandhi adds.

Having said that, he says, an agency can, instead, be laser sharp-focused on the positives and on the narrative it wants to drive. “There'll be a lot of parallel content, but keep hammering the right kind of message and narrative, by continuously creating content.”

That explains why the show had 10 posts daily.

While the show managed to bring conversations around entrepreneurship on the dinner table, it also faced brickbats on social media. The leading Mumbai-based edtech platform upGrad’s brand integration in the show, led to some trolling, as it sometimes felt like a misfit.

But the show and the agency chose to learn from the trolling, instead, to craft creative responses. Gandhi says that digital is the best medium to learn from the audiences, for the kinds of insights it provides.

“If you're in their conversations, you've made it to their hearts and minds. No product is perfect and there'll be criticism. But one has to keep evolving and be dynamic, as an agency. Learn the tide and ride it accordingly. It is important to have two-way communication and keep sealing our narrative.”

"It is important to have two-way communication and to keep sealing our narrative."

The ‘Sharks’ also responded to the criticism on social media, but backed with data. Gandhi says that today, digital agencies are very important for any brand whose customer is on digital and, by that logic, for a show like ‘Shark Tank’.

“The final consumer is a person who has browsing habits, not just TV viewing habits. At times, TV viewing and browsing also coincide. As marketers, we should be present on any medium the customer is, and remind them to come to the show.”

The daily average of a million-plus views on Reel content and positive comments, drove a massive increase in followers for SET and SonyLIV-owned social media platforms.

Gandhi humbly gives all the credit for the success to the show and its interesting content, and only takes 0.000001 per cent credit. But how does one know if a campaign has been successful?

“There are hard and soft data points. The latter are the conversations and the mood of the nation. It is visible with the conversations happening around us. Then we have data points that reflect the reach we could garner, using digital. How often do you see television show content having such a high engagement and virality?”

Have news to share? Write to us