Before the Indian television was swamped by the satellite television networks, Doordarshan defined the idiot box for Indians. This was during the late eighties when the prime time slots were defined by Sundays 9 AM to 10 AM. A time when like most of the kids my Sunday used to pass by having my breakfast in front of the black and white television that showcased the most popular Hindu epic television series Ramayan (1987-88) and Mahabharat (1988-90).
So, I was naturally excited when I heard that Mahabharat is being showcased again by Star Plus but with a new look, star cast and under a new production banner, Swastik Pictures. With the changing times when TV is no more the only dominant medium, I have been constantly updated about the new show via social media. From Facebook to Twitter to YouTube, Star Plus has made sure that the pre-buzz makes ample impact while keeping the subtle innovations.
Buzz on Facebook and Twitter
I witnessed the initial buzz spreading from Facebook with targeted Facebook ads running for some time now (approx more than two weeks.) The targeted Facebook ads that informed about the new show landed on the Star Plus Facebook page. The Facebook page which has more than 3 million fans, has been aggressively informing fans about the new show, the new star cast along with their screen roles and revealing interesting trivia around it too. The below Facebook content gives you the hint of the pre-social media buzz content strategy for the television show that started from yesterday.
If this was not enough the page has been running sponsored content where it has been informing more about the show to its fans. The 140 character network has also witnessed an aggressive push in terms of promoted trend with hashtags such as #Mahabharat and #AajKaMahabharat. The channel that has more than 139K followers on Twitter has been creating some interesting pre-show buzz. The below tweet should give you a hint.
— STAR Plus (@StarPlus) September 15, 2013
In addition to this, yesterday the channel invited renowned author Devdutt Pattanaik for a Twitter chat with the followers inviting discussions on the epic. Devdutt who is a known mythologist, has also helped with creative inputs for the new Mahabharat. Tweeps were asked to tweet questions along with the hashtag #Mahabharat and tagging Star Plus. Checking the tweets I can say that the Twitter chat drew interesting conversations.
— Devdutt Pattanaik (@devduttmyth) September 16, 2013
The YouTube buzz
YouTube channel of Star has more than 389K subscribers; it has been the one point destination for uploading all videos related to the epic. From making of the epic, to character promo videos, etc. the YouTube channel has it all and I am sure going further the channel would be uploading the show videos. According to Unmetric, the promo video on Satyavati is already one of the top videos for last week on the channel with more than 44K views.
Besides this, the channel rolled out the YouTube masthead and pre-rolls. The masthead of the show had an interesting game embedded in it. The simple game asked to choose an arrow and fire it at the opponent. One needs to choose the arrows carefully as the enemy has the same number of arrows too. The app is executed on YouTube itself and if you are bored by playing the game then either you can join the social conversations on Facebook and Twitter or watch the embedded videos.
Engagement beyond social
In addition to all the social engagement, Star Plus has a section dedicated to the serial on its website. The site is interesting with features like details of the characters, news, videos, image gallery, etc. The social conversations from Facebook and Twitter have been embedded on the site too.
Mahabharat Museum is a must watch section where you can find interesting weapons and ornaments associated to the characters. For example you can have a look at the Arjun’s weaponry such as bow and arrow. Infact these have been displayed at malls in different cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Baroda, etc. Other worth mentioning on-ground activities include virtual wardrobe, museum on wheels and glasstron technology.
Integration and innovations with websites like MSN and Yahoo. While the MSN innovation shows a ‘gada’ that hits the page resulting in a split of the page for a few seconds, the Yahoo! innovation shows an arrow tearing the page, reports AFAQS. The show is also being extensively promoted across Star’s group websites by takeover. Besides this a mobile app has been created to bring the augmented like experience for the user who gets to know more about the characters after scanning an outdoor ad.
On print, apart from regular ads the channel ran 3D ads which were visible through the 3D glasses that came attached to the papers. Bombay Times was one of the publication that ran a 3D campaign ad and The Maharashtra Times masthead was changed to Mahabharat Times on September 15 as the show went on air on September 16.
— Uditvanu Das (@primaveron) September 16, 2013
The channel has done a larger than life 360 degree marketing campaign for the mythological series Mahabharat. From digital to social to print to outdoor to mobile to radio, the channel has left no stones unturned to get its mythological show gain maximum eye balls. Going further, it would be interesting to keep an eye on the ongoing social buzz and at the same time it would be a challenge for the show to capture viewers once again considering the massive investment Swastik Pictures have made to capture the young audience.
I will be watching the new series on the YouTube channel considering its interesting special effects but at the same time the old one which ran for 94 episodes is still one of my favorite shows in the history of Indian television.