You might make out the difference between your chalk and cheese but ever heard a chalk and condom being spoken about in the same vein? Better still, what if someone gave you Bekaar Di music cds to listen to? These innovative and seemingly bizarre products and ideas are not the brainchild of a mad scientist; these are part of a b-school surrogate marketing ad competition which has completely revved up the social media circuit in recent weeks. Not to forget some retweeting by Shashi Tharoor, MP from Kerala, on one of the videos, that got the competition the required buzz.
With videos hosted on Youtube and Facebook, students marketing the ads through this media and results dependent on number of ‘likes’ obtained on Facebook, the competition is almost radical in its approach. LEGALIZE, the inter b-school competition held by XLRI School of Business and Human Resources, Jamshedpur, is perhaps the first instance of an inter b-school competition completely operating in the social media space. What raises the stakes higher is USD 1000 prize money associated with the event.
Conducted by the Marketing Association of XLRI (Maxi), the rules of the game were simple: Market a product or a social cause through a 90 second ad, send it to Maxi, which would upload the ads on their Youtube page and then put it up on their Facebook page. The participating teams would then go all out to garner as many ‘likes’ as possible in the first phase of the competition. The first phase was held from Oct 2-7, 2012.
So, what prompted XLRI to have a competition which was of the social media, by the social media and for the social media? Speaking to PaGaLGuY, Jitendra Bansal, secretary, Maxi, said, “We wanted to ensure that the reach of the competition is huge. Getting so many teams on campus is not easy so social media was the perfect platform for such an event. Also, we wanted international entries in the competition which was possible only with the use of social media.” When asked why the competition gave so much weightage to ‘likes’, Jitendra replied, “Whenever content gets generated on these platforms, you need a motivating factor for people to go and ‘like’ particular content. For the videos to go viral, it was necessary to get a push from the people. If we did not give so much weightage to ‘likes’, we would have limited our space.”
Based on the number of ‘Likes’, three teams emerged as the strongest contenders for the coveted prize of USD 1000 – ‘Kelewale’ from IIM Ahmedabad (IIM A) with 1662 likes, ‘Paladins’ from XLRI School of Business and Human Resources with 1165 likes and a combination team from IIM Indore, Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), Delhi and Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurgaon with 1145 likes. PaGaLGuY spoke to the three teams to find out what went behind the ads.
Abhimanyu Kumar from IIM A, member of team Kelewale, said about the ad, “Before choosing our theme, we created a list of products that were taboo in India. Then another team member came up with the idea in this ad. Once the idea was decided upon, we actually wrote a script. We took about a week’s time to finish the entire process.” Talking about why they registered for the competition, he added, “Ofcourse the prize money of USD 1000 (he chuckled)! Apart from that, this was a very different competition for b-school students. We normally participate only in b-plan competitions.”
Raghav Garg from team Paladins said about the ad above, “We ideated for two days on the theme. We then came up with this idea. We then went to autowallahs and canteenwallahs to get their opinion on the subject. Initially, they were hesitant to talk about the subject but they opened out later. We realised the need for promoting this cause. Also, the plan was to make everybody in XLRI a part of the campaign. Autowallahs, students, faculty, everyone is a part of the video.” It was their interest in marketing and social entrepreneurship which made them register for the competition. “Although we are pursuing HR here, most of us are interested in marketing and are studying social entrepreneurship as a subject. So, we wanted to do this as it involved both the elements,” said Raghav.
Manpreet Singh Rekhi, who had an unnamed team, comprising of members from three institutes said, “We wanted to highlight an issue which was taboo in a way which catches the attention of the youth. We worked on the emotional appeal.” His team joined the competition as they wanted to work on something creative. “We always work on case studies and presentations. This helped us explore our creative side.”
As far as the strategy to get the highest number of ‘likes’ was concerned, all teams tapped onto their friends on Facebook. Abhmanyu, whose team got the highest number of ‘likes’ revealed their strategy, “The first rule of social media is to exploit the already installed user base. Apart from that, we made sure that we had a thumbnail of a cute girl as that normally ensures responses. We also contacted some other popular Facebook pages which hosted our video.” Raghav’s team contacted a lot of associations which work for prevention of HIV/ AIDS and asked them to share their video on their page. He said, “Apart from contacting these pages, one of our team members also tweeted it and requested Shashi Tharoor for an RT. Once he retweeted it, we immediately saw an increase in the number of ‘likes’. Also, on the last day, we all changed our profile pics on Facebook to ‘I wish’ which was the theme of our video. We also requested our friends to do it. This generated a lot of curiosity and increased the number of ‘likes’ by 300 in a matter of 5-6 hours.” For Manpreet, however, it was their friends coupled in all the three institutes coupled with the traditional word of mouth approach which paid dividends.
The second phase of the competition is currently underway. In this phase, the videos will be judged for their creative and marketing aspects with 25% weightage being allotted to both these aspects. The creative elements, in all probability, will be judged by a renowned advertising agency whose name Maxi did not wish to reveal. The marketing elements will be judged by a faculty of XLRI.
Incidentally, Maxi has also applied for Limca book of Records New Edition for the cateogory of Academic Committee in India with the maximum number of hits on Youtube channel. The total number of hits on their Youtube channel as on June 30 stood at 463,568.