Cool-u song-u, little hype-u …

GOKUL KRISHNAMURTHY | Updated on December 07, 2011 Published on December 07, 2011

For Brandline : The `Kolaveri' effect has rubbed on to the Chennai Traffic Police too. Photo : Bijoy Ghosh   -  _ Bijoy Ghosh

As he entered a cinema screening The Help at Mumbai's Phoenix Mills compound, M. G. Parameswaran, CEO, DraftFCB+ulka asked someone he ran into: “ Kolaveri ketiya nee ?” (Did you listen to Kolaveri?)

That was one of several conversation-starters around the country - more online than off - on the song that has become a viral rage. Work on project ‘ Kolaveri', born of a simple song from a yet-to-be-released Tamil movie, had started 11 days before that Sunday afternoon.

Seeding the ‘Soup Song'

Two-year-old digital specialist Jack in the Box was told by client Sony Music about the movie 3 ( Moonu) that features the song Kolaveri, and given this brief: ‘Let's just ensure people see this song. Let's not make it a one-day thing.'

The song went online on Sony Music's South channel on YouTube on November 16. At around 5 p.m. on December 6, the number of views on YouTube was over 1.7 crore. The seven month-old hit Dhinka Chika, from Salman-starrer Ready, has 1 crore hits in seven months.

The brief had been more than met. It all began with the 50-member team at Jack in the Box viewing the video, recounts Prashanth Challapalli, Business Head - or Chief Jack, as he is designated.

“Everyone started listening to it in repeat mode. People from the North, the East, the West, from all over. The lyrics didn't matter, but the bit of English helped. It was the catchiness of the tune and the simplicity of the song and video that clicked,” says Challapalli.

The video, which features lead actor Dhanush, South superstar Rajinikant's daughter Aishwarya (Dhanush's wife and director of 3), and female lead and Kamal Hassan's daughter Shruti Hassan, was not promoted as one starring the three. And that was a conscious decision, explains the Chief Jack, though veterans like Parameswaran point out the star cast must have helped it gain traction down South, where it must have caught on first.

The social media push around the song began on November 18. The song, which many are calling an overnight success (and some a smart gimmick), was shot overnight.

Sony's Spark

Sony Music's Director of Special Projects, Arjun Sankalia, claims that when company executives first heard the song, it was ‘like nothing we'd ever heard before'. The standalone video was shot on the basis of this excitement. The full soundtrack of the movie is due for release in the second week of December. “It's a kind of emotion which connects. We had a lot of views overnight (after it was put up on YouTube). Then the social media efforts started - first in the South and then nationally,” explains Sankalia.

The Tweeting carried on for four days from November 18 from Jack in the Box. After this, the agency claims, the virality was mostly on auto-pilot. “If you have 50,000 followers but those are not relevant to the brand, the number itself is meaningless. So we adopted an influencer strategy - we reached out to people who are influential in music, on Twitter,” adds Challapalli.

The Buzz is the Impact?

Ulka's Parameswaran believes the song has peaked too early to benefit the movie's ticket sales. But it has started selling the song already, before the soundtrack's release.

Content provider to telcos Techzone, which has music rights to Kolaveri, sent out a press release claiming 22,000 downloads on WAP in five days. Sony's Sankalia says, “It definitely achieves a very high level of awareness and interest in the product - that does translate into sales. We already have a lot of interest in the soundtrack from even markets like Mumbai and Gujarat.”

For a successful album in Tamil, Sony estimates sales on average of 70,000 to 80,000 units in India and another 30,000 units abroad. The same album would witness 15 lakh digital downloads (cumulatively).

It remains to be seen what the numbers on 3 and Kolaveri will be, though it seems to have won the online game already - India is a CRBT (Caller Ring Back Tune)-led market on digital.

Says a film producer from Tamil Nadu, who did not want to be identified: “The song is a hit but today that need not help a movie in any way.” The theme - ‘boy let down, has a drink, moans love lost, blames the girl' - has been ‘done to death'. Dhanush's most recent release – ‘ Mayakkam Enna', has a similar song sung by him, he says. “I read that he wants to direct and also get into Hindi cinema. Maybe this will help with that,” he adds. C. S. Amudhan, founder and MD of Chennai-based creative shop WOC Advertizing, and director of the movie Tamizh Padam, begs to differ on the buzz not helping the movie: “All the buzz will help a great deal - on distribution, satellite and other rights, in-film placement deals, the works.” As Dhanush might croon, ‘making of a super hit-u, di …'

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Published on December 07, 2011
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