Zomato, Radhika Apte, Netflix, #Radflix, and Me-too Marketing

If you have been online around the end of August, and you follow the really cool people online, you must have heard about Netflix India’s love for Radhika Apte – how she seems to be a part of every piece of Netflix India original content, be it movies they produce or shows. The public has been creating jokes and memes about the affinity, and it’s gone viral.

How Netflix India’s social media team handled the attention was just brilliant. They joined in the meme fest. Not just did they appreciate the memes that the public made about Radhika Apte & Netflix, they created their own memes, coined the term ‘Radflix’, made a mock trailer of a mock film titled ‘Omnipresent’, starring Radhika Apte, written, directed, shot, and what not, by Radhika Apte, and went full throttle on having fun with it.

In short, they pwned the internet at their own game.

But this post is not about the larger phenomenon that Radflix was. It’s about a simple series of ‘ads’ that appeared in a short period of time, which shows how most Indian brands cannot think beyond “yeh wala cool hai, hum bhi karenge“.

So, while Netflix was enjoying the attention that Radflix was bringing them online, the witty social media team at Zomato made a simple two-column text format of an ad, which simply said ‘And you thought only Radhika is versatile’. The subject of this ad was Paneer, which, as per the ad is present in so many dishes / everywhere, much like Radhika Apte is.

Simple, cute, topical.

What happened next was nothing short of a masterstroke by Netflix. In 3 hours time, Netflix India just replied to that ad by editing the creative, finding the letters R-A-D-H-I-K-A in the left column, crossing off Paneer and writing instead the name of their mock movie Omnipresent.

Quick, witty, playful, and funny.

The internet imploded! As I’m writing this, both these tweets have generated over 22000 interactions, almost two-thirds of which has come to Netflix’s response. And we don’t even know how many times these tweets were screenshotted and shared on Facebook, LinkedIn, Whatsapp, Telegram etc.

All well so far.

Then, the Indian thing happened. Other brands noticed the buzz. Heads of marketing & CEOs of companies said “This is so cool! I want to join in too!”

So here’s the list of brands which attempted to join the party, and my commentary on each.

Reliance Mutual Funds


This is the first me-too tweet I saw that day. Reliance MF replied to both the handles, “Only if you have the wealth to binge watch and eat whenever you feel like!”, which doesn’t fit the context in any way, placed a weird reading sentence in the left part of the ad, where each word exists solely so that the word W-E-A-L-T-H could be spelled out, and the right part simply sports their own tagline.
Talk about butchering the format.

IIFL

I found IIFL’s tweet in a reply thread to the one by Reliance MF above. It’s clear that they didn’t even try beyond copying the two-column text format. Though in terms of content style, they came closest to the Zomato ad, but sadly nobody paid any notice to create a Netflix style reply.

KFC

KFC came up with a follow-up, with the exact same approach as that of Reliance MF. Left side, let’s spell out chicken over a force-fitted longish sentence, and right side, our tagline.

Union Bank of India

A PSU bank also wanted to join in the fun. They had a strange take though, spelling out U-N-I-O-N-B-A-N-K over an insipid and weird sentence on the left, and the entire logo unit and tagline on the right. The graphic work looks like it was quickly put together on Powerpoint only.

Tata Sky

My favorite DTH service provider ;), Tata Sky, didn’t want to be left far behind. So their social media team cooked something up. But brand visibility is paramount, so they just list random keywords along with the words “Tata Sky” on the left, so that they can spell out R-A-D-H-I-K-A (thank god for small mercies!), and their tagline on the right.

Cashify

Cashify, (who are they?) made an ad, where they wrote a sentence which is just copy for what they offer, force-filled with the earlier brands’ names, just so they look like they are also “in”, and a boring “Cashify now” on the right. Wait, what does the sentence spell out? No R-A-D-H-I-K-A, no C-A-S-H-I-F-Y?

Daily Objects

This hashtag laden copy came 2 days late, where they list items that they presumably discuss on the left, only to spell out their own name, and on the right they have their logo. Narcissism much? The only connection to the original story is the tags Radflix and Omnipresent, almost as if this is their half-hearted entry to a contest called Radflix.

Indigo Nation

Indigo Nation listed its sub-brands on the left, its logo on the right, and spelt out C-R-E-A-T-I-V-E, and its tweet read ‘Creativity is where it all started, and after all humaari creativity apt hai!’, again hashtag Radflix hashtag Netflix. Because how else do you show you are creative, if you don’t write creative three times in your creative?

Fullerton India

Fullerton India, created a starkly orange creative, with an insipid tweet ‘your partner in growth’, the list of things they do on the left, but interestingly enough, instead of circling letters to spell out F-U-L-L-E-R-T-O-N, they use the crossword format. They were afraid their audience would have to be spoon fed the word in one straight line. And on the right (this is my favourite!), they cross out Radhika and write Fullerton India. Guys, Radhika was supposed to be spelt out on the left! Stay with the format!

That’s What Sri Said

Some young individual professional who is presumably just starting off also wanted to use the format to get likes & retweets, and some visibility. Let’s just talk about the creative – it’s a list of issues on the left, and the words ‘Problems after college’ on the right. R-A-D-H-I-K-A is spelt out all right, but look at what words were put in so that it could be done – ‘Kam holidays’, ‘Taunts’, ‘Hormones’! The best part of this one is the tweet ‘Radhika Apte being versatile. We found her too.’ Can someone translate this for me please?

Playgard Condoms

The only thing missing from the mix was a condom brand. Playgard copied the format, replaced the left side with types of positions, and quite ‘helpfully’ wrote Positions on the right, because wouldn’t you really want to know what the things on the left are called? No spelling out words, and no crossing out words. But look what else they have written – “the only time Radhika won’t be present”. How presumptuous! Or on second thoughts, it’s just humble on the brand’s part 😉

Buzzinga Digital

An agency called Buzzinga Digital also made an ad, listing out R-A-D-H-I-K-A over a list of things they seem to offer. Nothing on the right. And the tweet content is a slight change to what Netflix had tweeted.

IFW Web Studio

Yet another agency, but this time from Udaipur. Their ad shows the same – the left column lists out a series of places in Udaipur, spelling out R-A-D-H-I-K-A over it, with the right part saying Udaipur – shooting ke liye apt hai! And the tagline to the logo, and the tweet are little more than implorations to Radhika Apte to visit Udaipur.

Hungry Head

This was the most inane one so far. The left half lists food items (with an all-small case nachos), and the right half just says Maggi. I don’t know how the left connects to the right, and what they all have to do with anything we have seen so far. And I don’t even know why the Maggi is in a smaller type than the others even though it’s alone on the right. The tweet says ‘Not only Radhika can fit everywhere. Our Maggi does too!’ Oh and did you notice the innovative hashtag #scaredgames?

What’s common across all these attempts at marketing are a) an attempt to just exploit the trend using the visual structure and the hashtags with no understanding of why the originals worked, b) tagging Radhika Apte, Zomato, and Netflix India’s handle in an attempt to gather attention and hoping for retweets from them, c) usage of the hashtags #omnipresent and #Radflix to appear in searches, and d) a cringeworthy overuse of the word apt (it’s a wordplay on Apte – do you see how clever all these brands are?) everywhere.

Having said all of this, I came across a funny take on the whole thing as well. A kind of subversion, a tongue-in-cheek ad, by a brand called JOOG. Take a look.

JOOG

Let me know in the comments if you have found any more copies of the concept, and I’ll add them to the post.

Then, Now and Will Be

Kidakaka had tagged me over three months ago. And I took so long to finally finish writing it. Turns out it’s become pretty long.

THE TAG
Two questions in each category answer them and then tag your friends from the blog-o-sphere. Leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been tagged and you are all set.

THEN
Your oldest memories

  • I vaguely remember a flood in Calcutta, because I loved the feeling of water filled in our rooms at the old house. All my life this memory somehow also makes me feel I’m in East Asia.
  • I insist to my grandpa that I want to eat fish. He being a vegetarian (he used to wear a janeu/yagnopavit), still goes to the market to buy fish for me. When it was being cut, I happened to be around and saw the blood coming out of its fins. There was an instant realisation that fishes are also like us – they also bleed, they also must be feeling pain. Ergo, I am a vegetarian ever since.
  • All of four years, the young rider in me wants to ride my uncle’s bike standing outside our house. I stand on the kick-lever, trying to start it, and the bike falls upon me. Safely enconsed in the gap underneath the bike, I patiently wait for anyone to come by and help me out. The noise startles everyone in the house and they rush out to see me where I was.
  • Back in the good ol’ times when 9AM on a Sunday meant Ramayan on Doordarshan, on one such Sunday my mother was busy cooking lunch so that she can get down to watching television from 9 onwards. And I was hungry. And I kept asking her for something to eat. She had to ask me to wait. With unending energy inside me, I started looking for things to do. One of these things I realised was pulling off the wooden pieces at the base of the cabinet underneath the stove. “Why do they need those?”, I thought, “let me remove them”. Fine idea, except that it is the same stove which was being used to cook lunch. I pull out one of the pieces, and then everything on the stove tumbles down on me, including boiling hot cooking oil. Severe burns ensue, and after quite some time under medical care, my life came back to normal. I became quieter though.
  • Back in the old days when I used to be 7 something, we used to celebrate Chhath pooja in the factory which now belongs to my uncle. Still remember the fun we had there. We used to play hide and seek between the huge machines and rolls of paper, and sleep on piles of cut paper.
  • Got my first computer, a 486 with 2MB RAM. I was a BASIC geek, but the assembler had left a folder of Prince of Persia on the harddisk. I was sold. It was amazing for the times, and I could not separate myself from the computer since then. And the feeling when I saw my first “coloured circles” that I had coded in Qbasic – nothing now can match that excitement.
  • Thanks to a Hindi-movie laden upbringing, I was a Hindi fillum ka hero, and any pretty girl around my age would be my prospective heroine. Can’t count how many times I have simply “fallen in love” at first sight 🙂
  • After my grandpa passed away, we were all staying at our old house for around a year. I had tons of friends there, and we all loved playing cricket. One fine day one of the boys said he wanted to bat. I agreed, and went behind the wickets. We never had wicketkeepers in those games, but I had seen it on TV and wanted to try it out. The boy who was bowling, meek chap that he was, always rolled the ball on the ground instead of throwing it. The batsman, Ravi Shastri fan it seems, wanted to hit a six on every ball. So he takes a swing at the rolling ball. The bat he was holding had a crack between the handle and the blade – with his swing it came unstuck, the blade went flying towards the pavement and the handle’s sharp wedge found my skull. With immense pain I started crying. I had thought it would be a bump, but when I touched it, I was shocked to find that the skin had broken apart there – I could feel that the cut is around an inch deep! I was drenched in blood, and everybody was looking at me with horrifying expressions. It so happened that a neighbour was passing by, recognised me, wrapped my head with a big piece of cloth he was carrying and took me home. I still have the scar on my forehead to show.
  • Once my cousin and I went out of the house to play cricket. So we carried the cricket bat (yes the same one) and since there were no balls to play cricket in the house, I stuffed a deck of cards in my pocket (!? Don’t ask. I couldn’t answer it then, and I can’t answer it now) while going out. Once we were outside we “realised” that we couldn’t play because we did not have a ball with us. So I come up with an idea – that we should walk. And we kept walking. And walking. And we crossed many roads. And we reached the factory. Rushed in the compound and sat in a chair in one corner. My uncles and cousins were playing cricket near the compound’s gate, and they obviously saw us go in (we walked in the middle of the game). So they come rushing in. By that time my mother had already called everyone to tell that the kids are missing. Hours of lectures, to me and to mother and grandpa (for not taking care). The whole experience was fun by the way 🙂
  • As a kid who used to be dropped and picked up from school by my parents or someone designated, there have been times when I have been waiting till evenings in the school compound. When all the kids have gone home, when the classrooms are being closed, it is lonely, gloomy. And I had heard the story of a Calcutta schoolgirl who had fallen asleep in class on the last day of the term and stayed locked in the classroom for an entire month – she even ate her shoes and clothes in her futile attempt at survival. And I used to think “Am I important enough for my folks?”. Anyways, one such time the school authorities could not wait with me for so long, so they sent the gatekeeper with me to search for my house. All I could remember was “then there is a gully on the right, and then there is a gully on the left…”, no landmarks, no street names, and I called roads, streets, highways – all as gullies, as long as they began with a turn. They figured that I knew the way well enough to reach, only that I didn’t know how to articulate it. I finally reach home, to a worried mother, who was wondering all this while if I was at school or I was picked up from the school and was in the office. Turned out that no one was designated that day to pick me up, and everyone had forgotten thinking that somebody else must be going.

What were you doing ten years ago?
February 1999
Preparing for ISC, nay for the JEE. Going mad playing games. Had found the internet over a year back, so was going mad trying out Shellsock, Caltiger and any means of getting cheaper internet. Was sorting through piles of accounting papers, working in TCS’s E-X. It sucked.

NOW
Your first thought in th
e morning

Aah 7? So my roomie is late for the gym! Great. Anyways, let me sleep for another 10 minutes, and then I’ll go out for a jog.

Oh, it’s 8.00!!!

If you built a time capsule what would it contain?
The necessary parts to make it work, right?

WILL BE
This year…
It’s just begun. Let’s see if I can manage enough leaves for the Himalayan Odyssey. And enough money to pay off a major part of my debts. Otherwise I just want to go home for a week or so.

What do you see yourself doing 14 years from now?
Don’t know. 14 years ago I wouldn’t have thought I would be anywhere near what I am today, so taking a guess is useless.

All I know is
I want my parents, both of them, to be healthy, comfortable, happy and proud of me
I want to be published by then
I want to have a loving and happy family

I TAG
Anurag
Rachit
Gauravi
Neeraj
Ankit

lllisteennocteiyuhmpgoleeahuknsltri Anyone?

After more than two years of making the legendary word-of-mouth monster we adoringly call klueLESS, I still find that someone searched for “lllisteennocteiyuhmpgoleeahuknsltri” on the 28th of Feb 2008, and landed up on my older blog. 🙂

The legend lives on.