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Marketing Regional Language Content – A matter of local flavours & pride

Social Samosa does a deep dive into the marketing strategies of regional language content. What are the basics? How do OTT platforms and production houses reach these diverse audiences? Experts weigh in.

The rise of regional language content on OTT is no news. Its prominence could be tracked back to regional streams of the IPL and all major big-ticket shows like Prime Video’s The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel and Netflix’s Squid Game – all dubbed in major Indian languages. Original regional content too is a strong economy in itself. For instance, aha, a Telugu and Tamil language OTT platform has over 1.5-million paid subscribers and 40-million-plus users, while Hoichoi, a Bengali language OTT platform, reportedly saw a 50% growth in direct subscriptions

According to a 2022 report by FICCI, it is estimated that OTT will soon break regional barriers and the share of other languages will increase to 54% by 2024. In fact, Arha Media aims to invest Rs 1000 crore over the next three years to expand their OTT platform aha. 

Soumya Mukherjee

Soumya Mukherjee, CEO – Hoichoi told Social Samosa that their content bank has 30 original shows lined up from now to the next year. He adds that the user segment of 40-45 years has increased drastically and growing very rapidly with one of the fastest growth rates. 

“It’s exciting to see that our audience has more time on their hands to indulge in binge-watching, and they’re more receptive to different genres like biographies, action thrillers, and more,” says Kunal Kumrawat, Head of Marketing, STAGE.

Ajayvir Singh saw a similar pattern in Chaupal’s consumers and further added, “The viewers are more open to watching varied and unique content on Chaupal as compared to previous times when theatre-going was what they looked forward to.”

Social Media Play

Social Media is an important tool for a lot of these OTT platforms. Regional OTT platforms use language as their main driving tool to connect with their niche audience. 

Ajayvir Singh

The language quotient is visible in Punjabi and Haryanvi OTT platform Chaupal’s marketing as well. The brand uses catchphrases like ‘Apni Boli Vich Apna Entertainment’ and ‘Chaupal Punjabia Da Apna OTT Platform’ says Ajayvir Singh, Head of Content Chaupal OTT. 

Most captions and copies on these social media handles are naturally in the native language, creating a wholesome experience.

Rakesh CK

Similarly, AHA’s Rakesh CK, Head – SVOD & Business Strategy says that the central idea of all their communication stems from the thought of ‘aha in every Telugu/Tamil household.’

Content Hooks

Each of these OTT platforms rely heavily on social media to reel in the consumers with a taste of what they can find on the respective apps. Further, the social media also becomes an essential medium to be a part of the trending conversation that is often integral in building reach and brand affinity.

Memes & Topicals

Memes appear regularly on the content roaster. These usually consist of actors and characters from their own shows. These OTT platforms also use video clips from shows and movies to drive home a point.

Also Read: Expert Speak: What makes a Cannes Lions winning campaign?

Promoting Original Content

Social media also plays a role in creating hype around the premier of a show/movie on the platform. Frequent updates and countdowns on the release date are common patterns for OTT platforms. 

These platforms use different themes to package their announcements, sometimes creating playlists for a certain show, and other times following the show’s own theme to convey the message.

To engage the audience, prior to the series/movie drops on the platform, they release glimpses of the content by either introducing characters or the main elements of the show/movie. 

Social Media First Content

Hoichoi has a separate account called ‘hoichoi minis’ that has a vast collection of mini-series, sketches and more that is available to the audience for free.

Apart from this, Hoichoi has two separate accounts catering to Bangladeshi audiences and Hindi-speaking audiences as well.

Speaking of taking the language beyond borders, Mukherjee also said, “We want to do at least eight original shows from Bangladesh which will be curated, created and produced locally in that country and the remaining would be primarily for India and international.”

ShemarooGujarati on the other hand is dedicated to give access to Gujarati content. The YouTube channel has an array of movies and plays, even first episodes of various original shows. The idea is to give the audience a test before the actual taste.

Marketing Mix  

For many of these OTT platforms, traditional marketing mediums play a pivotal role in connecting with the audience. 

For Haryanvi OTT platform STAGE, OOH marketing is an important medium, as they use public transport as a means of communication. The brand uses catchy slogans and bold visuals that capture the essence of their brand. 

Kunal Kumrawat

Kunal Kumrawat, Head of Marketing, STAGE mentions that the platform uses desi pop culture to connect with the masses on a personal level. 

Hoichoi, whose brand’s name itself hits a chord with Bengali speakers around the globe, has swiftly transitioned into performance marketing from their initial traditional marketing methods.

Mainstream OTT’s Regional Connect 

According to a pre-pandemic research by YouGov, 72% of consumers preferred watching content in languages other than the ones they speak and 24% of consumers preferred dubbed versions. 

This preference has given rise to mainstream OTT platforms increasing their content library. MX Player provides dubs in multiple languages including Bengali, Malayalam, Bhojpuri, Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Nepali, Punjabi, Tamil, Telegu, Urdu, English and Hindi. 

Whereas global players such as Netflix and Prime Video have been releasing regional language streams of all their prominent titles. South Indian languages have been the mainstay of their content and communication efforts.

Netflix India’s primary Twitter account regularly gives shout-outs to regional content in their collection to better communicate with the audience. 

Additionally, the platform also has a dedicated account for South Indian content exclusively called ‘Netflix India South.’ 

In 2021, Netflix India made a significant investment for their original Malayalam superhero film Minnal Murali. As a part of the launch campaign, the OTT brand launched a Twitter emoji and collaborated with leading brands and influencers relevant to the region. The brand also rolled out an activation at Ain Dubai, catering to the massive Malayali expat community in the UAE.

Disney+Hotstar too went all out in 2022 for the promotion of the Malayali comedy-drama film, Bro Daddy.

When it comes to South Indian language content, OOH hoardings and activations play a significant role in the marketing mix. The South Indian entertainment industry, not only enjoys a community of loyalists but is also known for fans who prefer to indulge and express their love for stars and shows alike.

It’s All About The Local Flavour

While the dynamics of marketing entertainment content remain the same across languages, the marketing tactics for a regional language show is often more experience-driven and even colourful. Be it the regional OTT channels or mainstream channels promoting regional content – the marketers tend to indulge in the local flavour with relevant references, phrases, and even icons.

The content hooks often take into account regional pride.

As Diljit Dosanjh enter Coachella, Natu Natu grabs an Oscar, and an increasing number of Indian audiences consume regional content – the identity and marketing strategy for these is only going to get stronger.

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Source: Social Samosa

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