#ChennaiExpressArrives But Fails To Deliver On Twitter

Chennai Express is inviting Twitter users to tweet with #ChennaiExpressArrives to help fuel the virtual train from Mumbai to Rameshwaram and watch the trailer as the train reaches the destination.


This morning I was fascinated by a particular hashtag for a movie promotion on Twitter’s Top India trends - #ChennaiExpressArrives. It not only looked innovative but thankfully also steered clear from the usual Twitter promotions where fans were asked to “Replace movie titles with some random thing that may/may not remind them of the movie”. Being a regular at Twitter and having nothing better to do, I decided to look for adventure in the hashtag. But, sadly, what came across as an ambitious attempt at Twitter marketing and promotions for the upcoming Shah Rukh Khan starrer Chennai Express, turned out to be too lame.

Cool idea, poor execution

A joint production by UTV Motion Pictures and Red Chillies Entertainment and slated for an August release, Chennai Express had raised my expectations, especially for promotions on Twitter. The tweets in the hashtag directed me to this microsite saying that it is upto us users to decide when the movie trailer will be premiered online. All we had to do was tweet with the hashtag #ChennaiExpressArrives, which would in turn fuel the train to reach Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu. The trailer would be revealed when the train reaches its destination. The movie is about a man’s journey from Mumbai to Rameshwaram and what happens along the way.


I was thrilled to bits. Another Twitter campaign for a launch, where user tweets would power a vehicle to actually reach its destination virtually. I expected to witness this in action, but alas, the microsite is a static one! Although it says ‘Ready steady po and tweet’, it is not integrated with the Twitter action (Tested both on Chrome and IE). The route on the map indicates the train is right now at Daund junction with the next station 109 kms away at Kurduvadi. It also does not state how many tweets would equal a kilometre for the train to move.

Fearing that I had missed out something, I headed to the Facebook page of Chennai Express. An update made 11 hours ago has the same poster but the train is stationed at Mumbai with its next stop being Pune at 192 kms. After an hour, there has been another update where the train has reached Pune and is headed to Daund which is 76 kms away. Which means the train has been moving manually and not powered by tweets, as it claims.

The page admins have surely created posters for each of the stations upto Rameshwaram specifying the kilometres, but not the number of tweets that made this possible.

This could have been brilliant

It is cool concept and could have been brilliantly executed with a sound gamification strategy too. Having a microsite play out the virtual train’s journey, including each of the Twitter users tweets that is powering it, would have helped increase the engagement on Twitter. To add to the fun, participants could unlock goodies like say movie tickets, upon reaching a certain destination  or discover hidden incentives on the way. Participants could be challenged to tweet creatively as to why they want to see the movie trailer or what would they do extra to fuel the train. And, for a successful campaign, it needed to be launched at least a week ago and not when the movie trailer is anyways going to air at the cinema in 3 days from now!

The India launch of UK based youth apparel brand, Superdry had employed a microsite along with Twitter wherein user tweets converted into virtual fuel for a specially designed ‘Superdry Morgan 3 Wheeler’. The microsite depicted the epic journey of the Morgan 3 Wheeler Roadster from London to Mumbai, starting from the London Superdry stores to Dover crossing through the English Channel to France, Germany, Belgium, Dubai and finally Mumbai, India. It included hidden prizes like Superdry apparel too.

In comparison, the Chennai Express Twitter promotion looks dull. It is trending on Twitter but that is not all to mark success on Twitter; it also needs to connect with the users and make them feel a part of bringing the trailer premiere. And it fails to deliver there.

A simple Twitter campaign for a movie trailer launch is much better if there are budget constraints. What are your views?

Disclosure: Superdry was executed by Brandmovers India who is an advertiser at Lighthouse Insights.