Milind Soman and Gul Panag are radical achievers in their own right, both have the power to influence young minds but put to the ultimate test of a curiosity-led buzz generating campaign on Twitter, the results of the individual campaigns clearly point out the fact that strategy and execution play a far bigger role than the influencers themselves.
Case in point are two recent Twitter campaigns – the #7HourMarathon and #MySoniKudi.com. You may have stumbled upon the first either directly or through the massive media coverage it earned, but the latter needed some explanation and a press release.
In mid January this year, Milind Soman, the 53-year-old Iron Man of India who prefers to call himself merely as a ‘running person’ tweeted his New Year fitness resolution: a 7 hour marathon every day! And to top it, he invited people to join him. Knowing Soman, the marathon addicted man who also completed the Ultraman marathon in Florida (considered to be the world’s toughest endurance challenge), the Twitter world went into a frenzy. What kind of a crazy running person is this man, a 7-hour marathon, daily, really!
Guys this year, I’m starting a new fitness resolution! Doing a 7 Hour Marathon every day! Yup, you read that right. Who wants to join me? #7hourmarathon
— Milind Usha Soman (@milindrunning) January 16, 2018
The intended impact came into play. People were jolted, if not shaken with disbelief, while awestruck women did not shy away from expressing their excitement on Twitter. Men felt challenged, almost declared a no-show letting the Iron Man and Ultraman steal the show. A few of the creative ones resorted to hilarious comebacks, justifying their everyday hustle is nothing less than a 7 hour marathon. The hashtag #7HourMarathon made it to the top Trends on Twitter.
Also when a super achiever declares a nearly impossible fitness goal, it makes for a super newsworthy story. Many online publications picked it up, while seeding conversations about the ‘7 hour marathon’.
Amidst all the curiosity, comedian Abhish Mathew comes into the picture, he asks in all innocence, ‘What is the #7HourMarathon?’ to Milind Soman. Our man of the moment responds in a 4.5 minute video, and one can heave a sigh of relief after having watched it. Anyone can join the #7hourMarathon, it is the simplest fitness resolution one can cope with. One just has to make a resolution to sleep for 7 hours every day!
After the reveal, Soman has been playing sleep coach to all fitness enthusiasts, as he regularly dished out the multiple benefits of a good 7-hour sleep regime. He also invited Twitter folks to share their 7 hour marathon experiences, while he shared his.
The influencer marketing stunt pulled off in elan, ‘#7HourMarathon’ was a campaign by mattress maker Duroflex, conceptualized by Happy mcgarrybowen and executed in collaboration with Isobar, SKREEM, and Greenroom, an influencer marketing platform. For a category as uninteresting as ‘sleep’, to be associated with fitness and a marathon enthusiast like Milind Soman in seamless alignment was an achievement in itself. Whoever thought of marathons and sleep as BFFs!
The phased approach of the campaign commencing with Milind’s first tweet leading to the organic buzz, a little push with the help of another youth celebrity for the final reveal, and then the brand communication coming into play, has truly made for an effective influencer-driven campaign.
On the other hand is ‘MySonyKudi.com‘ – an innovative concept designed to drive home a vital social message by its shock value. Actor and activist, Gul Panag first tweeted about this portal where men can order brides from over 20 categories ranging from Black Beauty, Agyakari to Sanskari, Motherly and NRI Ready. All the brides have passed through rigorous quality checks, claimed the portal.
Panag got Twitter folks to group cringe over the portal, while questioning the expectations from brides to fit into societal categories. Why does a girl need to change herself to fit into the role of a bride? Followers and onlookers were shocked at the existence of such a portal. For starters, the makers of the site claimed they knew how difficult it is to choose the perfect bride for your home, Then again, “And finding the right one in today’s scenario, rife with creeping western culture, is not just difficult but next to impossible.”
The portal also has a Facebook and Twitter page, promoting the types of brides they have on offer. Best of all is a testimonial from a certain Aadarsh Khanna on the site.
So, a portal that has brides on display😶
Pick from Sanskari, Agyakaari, NRI-ready, etc!
If this doesn’t make us cringe, what will? Why is it expected out of women to fit into these 'types'? Do we really need to change just to get married? #ChangeHerNot pic.twitter.com/9uwTjvRcSi
— Gul Panag (@GulPanag) January 29, 2018
— My Soni Kudi (@MySoniKudi) January 26, 2018
— My Soni Kudi (@MySoniKudi) January 28, 2018
In a nutshell, it is as cringe-worthy as it can be. Great concept to highlight a grave handicap in societal outlook towards brides to be, but sadly it failed to generate desired shock value. People were intrigued, shocked and also curious why Panag is sharing about this site, they demanded for the site to be pulled down, but the rest could see through the hashtag #ChangeHerNot. The buzz it could have earned with this brilliant concept got nipped in the bud.
Panag explained to all that it was a social media experiment in association with Zee TV. She tweeted the Zee TV statement and also her excitement on the outrage created. Later she shared a video talking about the upcoming show on the channel around the story of a girl who defies to force fit herself into a certain bride.
An off-beat initiative that @zeetv and I collaborated on. In the outrage it sparked off, lies the assurance that change is on the anvil. A new India is rising that will no longer adhere to societal shackles, but re-write its own destiny. Aaj Likhenege Kal #ChangeHerNot pic.twitter.com/kvHiDJAvJ4
— Gul Panag (@GulPanag) February 2, 2018
Zee TV’s creation of this fake site to drive home the point is really innovative. Speaking about the campaign in a press release, Deepak Rajadhyaksha, Deputy Business Head, Zee TV said, “Our objective was to nudge the audience to question these age old shackles, and drive home the point, albeit in a non-preachy manner. We wanted to appeal to the viewer’s reason, and not just feeling, and stir them out of their comfort zone to think about what’s really wrong with the way marriages often happen in India.”
The let down was the campaign execution. MySoniKudi could have not revealed the hashtag so early on. It could have waited for shock stings to seep through social media feeds until everyone is adequately angry. Then taking on the momentum, Panag’s reveal tweet and the subsequent video would have led to a better impact and campaign message.
MySoniKudi is a brilliant campaign idea backed by the right brand fit, but in terms of execution, it did not play bold. Probably, the team felt it is better to be safe than to be sorry, in case public outrage did not accept the fake site idea, conceived by respectable names like Panag and Zee TV. An influencer-driven campaign is sure tough to execute, but a bold strategy, a strong influencer and the right execution can amplify its reach, and make for better ROI
#7HourMarathon was simple, smart and played bold. What are your thoughts?