Inside The Viral Marketing Stunt Of Sonu Nigam & Culture Machine’s New Video Single ‘Crazy Dil’

The Roadside Ustaad social experiment video was to promote Sonu Nigam's latest video single 'Crazy Dil'

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2015 was the year of social experiments, an easy way to go viral. But it was stretched to the extent that The Viral Fever had to create an Anti-Social Experiment Qtiyapa video. The video, with a million plus views presently, highlighted everything that is wrong with the growing trend of social experiments. After a while, we saw a dip in social experiment videos, with altogether some few and far between.

But there’s a comeback, in a brand new avatar with brand support and a fullproof marketing plan. The case in question here is the recent viral video uploaded on the Being Indian YouTube channel. The minute-long video (3 million views on YouTube and 6+ million views on Being Indian’s Facebook page) features this old singer who roams around the streets of Mumbai armed with only a harmonium.

Office goers, youngsters and other passersby are pleasantly surprised when the man starts singing Bollywood songs of acclaimed singer, Sonu Nigam; the singer’s voice also resembles that of Sonu. Before the video ends we get to see the feeble looking man, now sitting in a room and slowly having his makeup removed. It’s ‘Sonu Nigam’! He had turned into “The Roadside Ustaad.”

This isn’t all. In the video we also get to see a young guy appreciating the old man’s voice while handing him some money for food. Sonu is obviously touched by this gesture from the stranger, who not only loved his singing but also chose to offer help. The 12 rupees offered by the guy has been framed and is now on display at Sonu’s office and if you haven’t seen the video then here it is:

The video became an instant hit the moment it was shared by Sonu Nigam and reported by leading online publishing houses. Digital media company Culture Machine has shot the entire video.

Before you begin to wonder why Culture Machine has tied up with Sonu, the answer lies in the below social media update.

The social experiment was a part of a larger business goal for Sonu and Culture Machine. In this digital age with its growing trend of music video singles, Sonu decided to launch his video single ‘Crazy Dil’ on Culture Machine’s YouTube channel, ‘Being Indian Music’.

Sharing a bit of history, Sonu informs that the song was written in 2014 and even performed for MTV Unplugged. “The response this song received was what propelled me to do something different with it. I had intended to release independent music online as the medium reaches out to music lovers across the world at one click.”

According to Culture Machine, the song is an electronic dance number from Sonu Nigam featuring a special segment with Natalie Di Luccio and has a feel good vibe to it. Produced by Being Indian Music, the video also features Sonu’s son Nevaan Nigam and his close friends from the industry in cameos, like Farah Khan, Kailash Kher, Sunil Singh Grover and Rajkumar Hirani.

“We realized that between Bollywood and international music, Indian Pop music was not getting the deserved attention. We want to make Indian pop music a force to be reckoned with once again. To release a video of musical geniuses such as Sonu Nigam is an absolute honour!,” informed Karl Katgara, Creative Director, Culture Machine.

In addition to burning media budgets on the video, a day prior to the release of the single, Culture Machine hosted an AMA (Ask Me Anything) with Sonu on Facebook. During the first 10-15 minutes of the live video, Sonu takes up song requests and humbly responds to his fans. However, the surprise factor and the primary reason for the AMA was revealed when the guy who had given Rs. 12 to Sonu was introduced in the live chat. Must say it’s a commendable hunt by Culture Machine!

Marketing stunt or genuine effort

At first glance, the effort looks genuine but when you see the big picture with the launch of a music single, the whole effort looks staged. However, we can’t disclaim it so we will have to take it as a genuine effort.

Nevertheless, the entire campaign from start to end was really planned well to go big on digital. Starting with a social experiment, followed by the AMA and then finally releasing the single has been crafted to perfection by the team at Culture Machine. Not to forget the active PR machinery and the media spends so that the content is discovered and gets talked about. You finally start believing that there is indeed a template on how to make anything viral!

Sonu Nigam, a popular name in the 90’s has given number of hits and had been a strong force in keeping the Indie music alive in the country. But in present times he seems to be missing in action. This attempt can be very well seen as his effort to reach out to today’s millennials.

Collaborating with Culture Machine is a smart move as the company’s properties like Being Indian and Being Indian Music are quite popular among today’s young crowd. Not that releasing video singles is a new trend, we have seen T-Series doing that quite aggressively last year, but this new effort will definitely spike up the reach of Being Indian Music YouTube channel.

These are interesting times to see a popular singer partner with a digital media company rather than a record label to reach out to the younger audience.

We might debate the effort is a staged one and designed for a promotional activity, but in doing so Sonu Nigam And Culture Machine have provided a viral template on how to release a video single on digital today. Wonder if the single made any sense, but, never mind – I’m no more a millennial!