Aishwarya Ramesh

Netflix unleashes marketing blitz to promote Original movie ‘AK vs AK’

Television, outdoor, YouTube and Twitter – Netflix is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the viewers tune in to the face-off between Anurag Kashyap and Anil Kapoor.

They share the same initials, but that certainly doesn’t mean they like each other. Netflix’s latest original movie ‘AK vs AK’ is directed by Vikramaditya Motwane and its stars, actor Anil Kapoor and director Anurag Kashyap, go toe to toe against each other. While Kapoor is known for making mainstream Bollywood hits, Kashyap is well known for more dark, edgy indie films – typically the opposite of mainstream cinema.

The equation between the two of them is that they don’t get along with each other – and this is what Netflix has capitalised on for its marketing efforts. Here’s a glimpse of its marketing on Twitter and YouTube.

After a lull in OOH, thanks to the COVID-induced lockdown, we’re seeing movement in this space again. In a pre-COVID world, OOH was the lead medium of advertising for OTT platforms. These platforms would target on-the-go commuters and attempt to persuade them to watch the content.

Earlier this year, before the lockdown came into place, Netflix ran a campaign featuring characters from Kashyap-directed series ‘Sacred Games’. The outdoor campaign featured billboards in different parts of Mumbai, like Bandra, Juhu, etc and meant to talk to frustrated commuters.

A Netflix billboard spotted in Bandra
A Netflix billboard spotted in Bandra

The copy on the billboards referred to the Netflix Original show ‘Sacred Games’. Other billboards referenced a variety of popular shows streaming on Netflix. All the billboards carried a line that advertised Netflix's mobile plan (Rs 199 a month.)

Also Read: Netflix's OOH campaign talks to frustrated commuters

In January 2019, we reported an anonymous media planner, who stated, “Netflix is clearly the biggest spender on outdoor across categories in the top metros. In Tier II and III cities, the central government spends the most. The OTT war in metros is driven by momentum. If Netflix releases ‘Sacred Games’ with X number of hoardings, Amazon Prime Video will have to do the same for ‘Mirzapur’ to mount the show at the same scale.”

In the same article, we also reported that according to professional service company KPMG, OOH advertising is broadly segregated into two parts – airport and non-airport. Airports contribute 30 per cent to OOH’s total revenue, while the rest is divided among railway stations, high-traffic streets, elevators, shopping malls and high street markets. The Rs 3,200 crore OOH industry (in FY18) was estimated to grow by 9.2 per cent CAGR to Rs 4,970 crore by 2023 (source: KPMG).

Also Read: As flights reopen, will flyers pay attention to airport OOH and DOOH ads?

Netflix waited until its recent ‘Streamfest’ was over before beginning to advertise for the new movie. It began promoting it in the first week of December. First, there was an official trailer launch, featuring the cast and Motwane – streamed live on YouTube.

Then we began seeing content that featured both the stars. This included a house swap activity, a diss track featuring former All India Bakchod (AIB) members, and even a discussion with the director for fans to understand the content better.

Twitter formed a big part of the marketing strategy for this particular movie. The stars took to the social medium to take potshots at each other when it came to the work they’ve done in the past.

Kashyap’s last film – Netflix Original ‘Choked’ – was also promoted on YouTube. The director made a satirical vlog, which was meant to be a step by step instructional video on how to unchoke a sink.

The video featured relatable work from home moments, like the cooker going off in the background, and included references to the viral ‘Dalgona coffee’ and even his own movie ‘Bombay Velvet’. The video also featured DIY household tips, such as using baking soda and vinegar to clear a blocked drain. Kashyap also used dry, subtle humour to mimic the way vloggers speak, urging viewers to perform this task ‘with love’.

Sachin Kumar, founder and managing director, Bottle Openers feels that outdoor as a medium of advertising can be leveraged as a conversation generator on social media too.

"It can be made highly contextual & hyper local and that is what Netfilx is doing. I think as a strategy it is bang on and clutter breaking. It will amplify the marketing efforts immensely," he says.

Sachin Kumar
Sachin Kumar

Kumar adds that Indian audiences usually love light banter and ‘masala’ content. Therefore this content approach is likely to generate a lot of interest.

"The overall strategy is quite thought through, liquid and linked and marketing content very entertaining. We know that both Anil Kapoor and Anurag Kashyap have a raw personality and can be hilarious. This is what Netflix has capitalised on beautifully in the videos created. It will certainly create a lot of interest amongst users to watch the movie and also drive maximum conversations, views and shareability in the digital space," he concludes.

Amit Dhawan, a leading marketing consultant points out that for a while, Netflix has been setting major advertising goals for the industry. He mentions that having championed the art of creating content, and then utilising the same for promotions, Netflix is teaching us how to build awareness and create curiosity at the same time.

“Creating a film and making the plot of the film alive for the audience to experience it before the launch of the film is certainly a craft all of us can learn from,” he says.

While talking about the OOH space, he considers this as more of a stunt with an objective to drive more traction by means of digital conversations. “If someone who isn’t aware about the film looks at just the billboard while driving on the road, she or he might not be able to fully understand what’s happening. In most cases, they might just ignore and move on. So, we can’t look at it as just an OOH campaign. It was a combined OOH + Digital campaign that generated the massive conversation. Overall, fantastic move!” he exclaims.

Amit Dhawan
Amit Dhawan

He adds that with respect to digital, Netflix being the king of content knows how to rope the audience in.

“Be it the social media posts or the rap song done in collaboration with AIB, it is so intriguing that you just want to watch what’s in the film. The rap for instance has extremely mean lyrics polished in a way to make the users want to know more about the plot of the film. All of this, topped with the twitter banter between the two AKs was a perfect move to divide the audiences and further propagate conversations and curiosity,” concludes Dhawan