Shreyas Kulkarni
Marketing woos calorie counters with YouTube content that asks them to co-script while watching

It reminds us of the intensely interactive Netflix movie ‘Bandersnatch’, where viewers clicked on the story options on the screen to co-write the tale.

“We were trying the whole ‘Bandersnatch’ (2019 Netflix movie) concept itself… code it… have a landing page… but given the whole festive thing was not going to last that long, we wanted to keep it quick,” says Gaurav Arora, co-founder of Social Panga, the Bengaluru-based digital marketing agency behind health and wellness company’s new video.

The video, which makes use of YouTube’s end screen template (tiny video thumbnails within the main video), is reminiscent of the Netflix movie’s theme – viewers get the choice to decide the course of the content.

Titled ‘What would you do? ’, the video lets you choose from three festive foods to eat. Choose one and it takes you to another video where you’re informed of the calories you’ve consumed. Then you are offered a choice of three workout videos, pick one and you’re redirected to another video. Follow the workout instruction and see if you’ve shed the extra calories.

Arora remarked that they didn’t want the conversation around the festival season from a fitness brand to be straightforward like “Don’t eat sweets or these are the alternatives, this is the workout routine you can do.”

The process

Gaurav Arora
Gaurav Arora

Arora revealed that they were looking at YouTube annotations (lines on the video). “We had the whole idea of having just one TVC… but we realised annotations do not pop up on every mobile phone and laptop.” So when Arora and his team came across YouTube ‘end screens’ that were coming up on every video and device, they just went ahead with it.

Another interesting thing it (Social Panga) found was that you don’t have to take all the videos live. You can take one video live and if you add it in the end slate, all the other videos can remain unlisted.

Video concept

“We chose the sweets that are common during Diwali and because not everyone has a sweet tooth, we choose ‘aloo tikki chaat’,” revealed Arora.

It turns out that the agency had got a nutritionist to come up with the calories bit, and ‘gajar ka halwa’ and ‘aloo tikki chaat’ weren’t adding up to 225 calories. So, the ‘besan ka laddoo’ option was added. “All three options equal 225 calories and once that was done, we had an expert from Cult (’s chain of gyms) decide what kind of workout routines can be used…”

“You follow the routine and you will burn 225 calories. So, we kept this factual and entertaining. Even if you pick these routines today, you will burn the so and so calories mentioned.”

Speaking about the workouts, Arora says, “… The lady in the video is actually a trainer. So, she performs all the workouts and takes sessions on…”

He added that they had thought of a lot of other features. “We had the safe zone, where we have a landing page, get the video for it; it traditional way to do it. But we did want to try something new, and these days when it comes to trying something new, it’s always a feature hack.”

We (afaqs!) reached out to three experts to know their take on the video, and if jumping to a new video (on choosing an option) will lead to viewers losing interest.

Edited excerpts:

Ananda Ray, creative head, Rediffusion

Ananda Ray
Ananda Ray

I find the communication interesting and refreshing. Especially now, since people are mostly at home and consuming digital content heavily. The things I like about it are that it doesn't feel like an ad. It has an interesting hook at the beginning that might appeal to our 'guilty pleasure' genes and leads very smoothly to a fitness solution for the side effects of that guilt. Also, the training videos are well-explained and easy to do, which is encouraging to those who worry about equipment, etc.

I can't say if the fact that one has to click through will be a deterrent. However, the content itself was engaging enough (and presented engagingly enough - simple, clear, reasonable choices) for me to click through and see what's around the corner.

The medium matched the message. It was all about choices. Exercise didn't feel like an inflexible chore and, thereby, more inviting. Which exercise plan do I choose? If I don't feel ready to try one, I can still try something else to achieve the same result. It makes it easier to convert those who may want to, or not want to exercise; help them choose to exercise - the biggest hurdle, usually. For this reason itself, the use of click through videos feels pertinent.

Of course, at the end of the day, no one will mistake it for an actual training video. But it does suggest - through a relevant gimmick - that knows what it's doing and also provides multiple options to their customers based on need.

Ashok Lalla, independent digital business advisor

Ashok Lalla
Ashok Lalla

This seems like a tactical initiative done to coincide with Diwali, when many people end up indulging in food and treats. They then end up bemoaning the fact that they have now put on weight and will need to exercise to get rid of the excess calories.

From that context, the connection between food choices and the workouts required to burn off the calories, is a nice one.

However, the traction achieved seems to be low. Some videos barely get double-digit views. Perhaps, that's because this was not promoted extensively. It seems like an idea with potential, if it's done well and promoted actively too.

Aalap Desai, national creative director, mcgarrybowen India

Aalap Desai
Aalap Desai

Because the consumer is mostly at home, they are bored and are putting on weight by the minute. If they get an interactive experience that answers both these challenges, then this film, in my opinion, is quite relevant. The cherry on the top is the festivities angle they have put on it. It fits well. Also, there is data that proves that the first place most people check for workout videos is YouTube. So, the medium is also apt for the film.

There are just two things that are minor speed bumps. First is the limited control we have on YouTube annotations. When the viewer is presented with the choices, the screen looks cluttered because of the boxes they come in. And second is that unless you are watching it on a laptop, you can’t go back and explore the choice you didn’t select. On the phone, it’s an extremely irritating process.

But these two are minor glitches. Overall, I find the film interesting and engaging.

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