Case Study: MakeMyTrip – Empowering the Indian Traveller

What’s the campaign all about? is the pioneer that kicked off the online travel revolution in India by allowing users to book tickets on flights and to arrange for hotels and accommodation across the world. The Indian travel industry found a revolutionary addition in the form of convenience in planning and arranging for trips within India and beyond with the arrival of MakeMyTrip. made its India debut in September 2005 with its Lowest Airfare Guarantee and soon diversified its online travel offerings to include domestic and international holidays. Targeted at the small business and leisure travellers, it became a name recognised duly with values of reliability and transparency in its operations.

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MakeMyTrip was clearly one of earliest players in the world of business to have taken social media and content driven marketing as seriously as traditional marketing, at a time when companies were apprehensive about venturing into the online space for their marketing needs. With the single objective of empowering the traveller, their marketing strategy effectively uses their social media platforms integrating the content and campaigns in a way that complemented each other.

What was their marketing approach on Social media?

Make my trip’s social media marketing approach, involved campaigns across key social media platforms with strong emphasis on customised content for each of the platforms encouraging customer engagement. With strong presence across the key social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube and customised content that users can benefit, MakeMyTrip empowered the traveller allowing them build and incorporate their own travel itineraries. While the tone of communication has remained consistent, the mode of delivery of the content is tailored to suit each platform.

On Facebook, MakeMyTrip has used a varying approach to drive constant engagement through sharing, commenting and likes. Their content strategy across Facebook and Twitter involved a balanced mix – ranging from posts that promoted their offers, to thematic travelogues, travel tips and trivia catering to a wide demographic of small business and leisure travellers. By efficiently using hashtags such as #Luxury Travels, #Nature Trips, #Adventure Trips, #ManMade wonders and #Relaxing Holidays, every content piece had a clear Call to Action. MakeMyTrip also had a virtual travel support desk available for travellers with nuggets of information specific for travellers.
Through tweet chats and the timely content appealing to a large cross section of their audience, their hashtag #MakeMyTrip made it to a list of national level trends across multiple campaigns.

MakeMyTrip is also one of the few brands to have successfully leveraged its presence on Pinterest. With over thirty boards and counting, they cover a range of categories such as Best Travel Destinations, Food and Drink, Beaches, Festivals, Unique Places, Museums and Art on the one hand, and a whole range of picturesque locations titled with the name of specific destinations such as Kashmir, Rajasthan, Hong Kong and the like.

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Makemytrip’s YouTube channel is a hub for their Television commercials, and videos that cover everything from exotic travel destinations, hotels and travel tips. With targeted YouTube promotions the brand has over 5000 subscribers and 400,000 views for its videos.

Differentiators that worked:
• Empowering the traveller to customise their travel end-to-end providing them wide variety of options both within India and internationally in simple and effective fashion

• Innovative campaigns such as Hamne Toda Vaada Toh Pay Only Aadha where customers could claim half refund if they were unhappy and #ThanksFor10k where all the users who added up to 10,000 followers on Twitter were thanked – increased brand recognition and highlighted the quality of their products and services


makemytrip image3What worked in MakeMyTrip’s social marketing campaign?

360 Degree Approach: An integrated 360 degree approach to social media marketing is the key highlight of MakeMyTrip’s online marketing strategy. A category of business that’s rich in emotion and excitement, MakeMyTrip leveraged this through highly engaging and customised content that is well crafted to suit the different social media platforms. Spread across a range of themes, concepts and ideas, suited to the interests of different demographic groups, their campaigns presented suitably across the platforms – verbose and visually strong on Facebook, to the point and crisp on Twitter, and pictorial, on Pinterest, and engaging on YouTube.

Call to Action: While their campaigns focused on different themes, there was a clear focus to anchor the marketing efforts to sales conversions through effective call to action. For example, a traveller might be on their portal or on their Facebook page, and may see a bunch of posts on ideal travel destinations: the underlying notion is to equip him with the right information so he may choose to travel where he wants. The call to action takes him straight back to the portal, where he is free to book his trip as he pleases.

Customer Service: Customer centricity being one of their core values, MakeMyTrip translated this into the online space as well. They used the social media effectively for customer service by providing responses to queries from customers tackling issues, guiding them, or simply providing required information. One look at MakeMyTrip on social media shows that they are not afraid of criticism – they don’t even delete negative feedback, and take a very reassuring tone.

Make my trip infographic

What are the key take-aways from MakeMyTrip’s campaigns?

• What we believe worked very well overall was an integrated 360 degree approach to social media that focussed in not only creating awareness about the brand, their products and services, but a compelling content strategy across platforms that contributed to building their business itself. By capturing the customer’s attention irrespective of whichever platform they are in, and empowering them with engaging content, they hit the bull’s eye.

• What’s critical for a business like MakeMyTrip is not just about making the sale but in the providing an overall positive customer experience. While social media is often looked upon as something that is devoid of personal connect, MakeMyTrip has effectively used for managing existing customer relationships by delivering outstanding service through these platforms.

Written by: Kirthi Jayakumar

Research team: Keerthi Ramesh | Ramya Rajaraman

There’s nothing FREE about it. That’s BASIC.

If you’re here with hazy to vague knowledge on the Free Basics debate, let’s start by jogging your memory on what Net Neutrality is by directing you to our earlier post on the topic. The significantly hyped up Free Basics programme from Facebook has run into quite a bit of trouble, particularly around those who believe firmly in entrenched values of free and open access internet in India, replete with equality.

Facebook came up with a petition addressed to TRAI, or the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, and implored to users to sign it. A bunch of unsuspecting people signed on – inspiring a wave of “Billu did not sign the petition” memes among other things. As soon as the petition heated up in so far as seeking attention was concerned, the petition was also met with stiff opposition with a counter-petition. The tech-driven side of India’s business endeavours, from start-ups to full-blown organisations – all supported the activism against Free Basics.


In a nutshell, Free Basics is nothing but – which is the brainchild of Mark Zuckerberg. If one were to go by what Facebook describes it, it would amount to “an open platform that gives Indian developers the opportunity to make their services and websites available free of cost to those who cannot afford internet access.” But, the catch is that the element of free access is limited to partner websites and applications only, and the program was launched two years ago, across the world, in collaboration with Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Opera Software, Nokia and Qualcomm.

Dig deeper, and the chinks in the armour begin to show. Free Basics is neither free/fair, nor provides the basics. What it does,  instead, is to partner with Internet Service Providers to provide a preferential and selective range of access options to certain app developers and services, ONLY. This is the main issue with Free Basics – it derails the notion that the internet is an equal space for all users alike.

So what’s the deal? Are we giving into Free Basics out of peer pressure, or are we vetoing without reason? The essence one needs to keep in mind while evaluating this is, what the internet means to us. With the push of a button, the world is at your doorstep: be it in information gathering or online shopping, communicating with loved ones or building tech-centred partnerships across the world for science, social needs and such else. The internet, therefore, has become a communal space to accomplish with ease, to congregate without too much difficulty, and to make available what is otherwise difficult to access. Think about it. If Free Basics went live, and a bunch of websites were cut out of your accessibility, how much of a setback can it be?

In the face of a catastrophe, or in the event of a social challenge, communication has a huge role to play. Free Basics could be a spoke in the wheel for that.  In the business of marketing, from trying to stand out in the crowd of a milling millions, we might just find ourselves blurring into the background – as one big knot of a maddening crowd.

Free Basics, in simple terms, therefore, is neither free, nor gives you the basics you deserve to enjoy, for a completely free, fair and equal opportunity to access the internet.

Case Study: Urban Ladder – Beautiful Homes start here

In a short span of four years, many of us in India have latched on to online shopping for home décor and furniture. The birth and growth of Urban Ladder is intertwined with this change. Offering everything from accessories to full-fledged practical pieces of furniture directly up to the customer’s doorstep, Urban Ladder has redefined the experience that furniture shopping is, in itself. While being one of the first movers in the process of shifting the spotlight on furniture shopping from the offline market space to the online market space, Urban Ladder captured a significant segment of the market through its focused marketing efforts.

Marketing that focused on targeted buyers and building engagement

A keen customer insight and a deep commitment to engagement with users – these are the key factors that have contributed to the success of Urban Ladder.

Insight: Furniture shopping is a high involvement area, people buy based on word of mouth referrals from family and friends. The emotional connect with buying a furniture item is relatively high. Given how this worked in the offline domain, Urban Ladder tried to capture this essence in their marketing strategy. Social sharing was the equivalent of physical word of mouth and this was key to establishing credibility and trustworthiness of Urban Ladder. Trust, credibility and reliability were found to be important to customers. As a new entrant, Urban Ladder relied on user stories or customer testimonials to let people know that they were real and reliable.

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Using customer testimonials in the brand’s marketing communication has set Urban Ladder apart. For the brand, it was a combination of both, a conscious decision on part of the marketing team and a hunch. When Urban Ladder was launched at first in July 2012, buying furniture online as a purchase category had not evolved yet as a concept. The buying behaviour was significantly pivoted around word-of-mouth publicity. Urban Ladder translated this insight into the online buying pattern of customers, of relying on friends and family for recommendations and suggestions. Happy customers were willing and happy to share their stories – and given that furniture is a high-involvement, high-emotion and high-stakes investment to make, the need to use testimonials and happy stories of real customers was imperative to create a sense of comfort around buying furniture online.

Campaigns were driven around this idea of user stories; Product listing on the site was tweaked to show other buyer/user stories and Social media was used to amplify and gain additional traction on the back of these testimonials.

Gathering Stories

The stories were put together through direct sourcing of testimonies from the customers themselves, while also pulling out and curating stories from real time interactions across their social media platforms of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and email. Buyers shared their photographs of the furniture as it was set up in their spaces, sometimes with hashtags such as #ULStory and #UrbanLadder, sometimes with full length appreciable narratives. Urban Ladder set up its page on the web app with images and stories, replete with a tagline indicating where these stories were shared, or what plug in they were shared with.


Staying Connected

Another area that Urban Ladder has excelled in is Email Marketing. Rather than viewing emails as purely a sales tool, Urban Ladder positioned it as an important customer engagement vehicle and internally it is still thought of as an email newsletter. The early challenge was more about designing the most relevant and valuable content for customers rather than promotion of specific products. Here too, the focus was on education of the customer and engagement. This approach ensured that the emails stood out from the pack offering subscribers genuine value. Examples include the furniture-buying guide, D-I-Y ideas for the home, tips for decorating different parts of your home, Home Improvement ideas and so on. Right from the beginning, and this continues to be so – email
was considered a means to build trust with the end user.


This idea of using email for qualitative engagement also ensured that the list building effort was geared towards acquiring genuinely interested and involved customers rather than large volume database. Given that furniture is not always an impulse purchase, engaging with the right audience and positioning Urban Ladder as a great option was more important than dishing out discounts or deals.

“The person we send our emails is ideally an involved customer and not just a deal hunter. Right at the start, we spent time to analyse the click-through rates and open rates and tried to understand how to improve them. On principle, we never look at purchased lists. Every additional subscriber was voluntary, permission driven, from people who want to subscribe and get real updates. We used tools like pop-ups on the website, a referral campaign and social media to tell more people what we were about. The guiding rule was that people on our list wanted value in return for permission to mail them. All email content had to measure up to this.” Suruchi Jajoo, Corporate Communications, Urban Ladder

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Marketing success of Urban Ladder

The communally shared experience that shopping for lifestyle needs, has been a longstanding dimension to informed decisionmaking on purchases. People tend to rely on the word of those who have already experienced – successfully or unsuccessfully – a given purchase experience, and do not hesitate to replicate a positive experience in their lives if it is a trusted review they rely on. Urban Ladder has achieved tremendous success by situating its products in the customer’s home, and sharing that experience with potential customers. By explicitly offering a window into the world of how its products are placed in a real space, Urban Ladder deconstructed the many concerns relating to online shopping.

Secondly, instead of waiting for customer testimonials to come in, and capitalising on the visually centric exchanges on the online digital space, Urban Ladder kept an ear to the ground to keep track of its mentions on social media. By using a hashtag #ULStory and #UrbanLadder, customers shared their photographs and words of appreciation for Urban Ladder and its products and services, which were immediately curated on their forum. With minimum effort for the user and for Urban Ladder too, it was a smart way to collate user generated content for its platform and attention to its products. Another great way they used customer stories to augment product information on the site. This repurposing of testimonials has ensured it is not lost in a melee of information and verbosity but shows up at the right time when future buyers of the product are browsing and evaluating options.

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Clearly, Urban Ladder successfully crafted a mechanism to leverage attention for its products and its brand philosophy by building blocks of trust in its existing and potential customers. When potential customers hear of a brand’s successes, especially in larger numbers, it represents both, qualitative and quantitative reviews that leverage a brand’s trust and strengthen the perspective of the brand in the eyes of a potential customer.

Across the board, Urban Ladder has seen that on social media, targeting has been very focused, and they have always sought to work with buyer personas that work best for their business. Even on social media, their approach is to gain quality, interested fans rather than just volume or numbers. Focusing on fewer tools and media, they spend time in gleaning insights and approaches to make the chosen avenues work well for them.



What are the key take home points from Urban Ladder’s marketing campaign?

Urban Ladder’s use of customer testimonials and responses as a marketing tool is a benchmark for the category. The most successful businesses convert their customers into brand ambassadors and sales force and in effect this is what Urban Ladder has achieved. It has also ensured that this element retains the high emotional connect that buyers retain after their shopping online.

  • Structuring its testimonials and positive reviews in such a way that it increases leads and conversions of visits online into tangible effects offline took care of two things. One, the hassle of generating unique and relevant content was non-existent, for content became something that the customers themselves owned. Two, the testimonials became a springboard for engagement and action, through real time customer exchanges and conversion of potentials to actual tangibles. The key point to note in this regard is that Urban Ladder remixed the hackneyed word of mouth publicity by using the internet as a medium.
  •  A second key take home point for Urban Ladder’s marketing campaign is that it was a straightforward, honest and sincere exposition of customer feedback. A cursory glance at their wall of testimonials also reveals that the customer’s voice has been retained as it is: regardless of whether they use short forms and smiley icons, or British English outright. Where there are areas of improvement, there have been no qualms in revealing them as they come, demonstrating the values of the brand more than mere words could do.
  • Urban Ladder’s campaign has an interesting take home in the form of the manner in which social media platforms were used. The hashtag across the different avenues remained the same, and the modus of communication across the different platforms remained the same – a photograph and a few words as a review was the common denominator. While most brands look at each channel as a unique and individualised platform and customise messaging and marketing efforts for each, Urban Ladder integrated all the mainstream social media platforms into one route to channel testimonials across the board, to land up on one spot.
  • We find that Urban Ladder’s overarching emphasis on driving engagement with genuine users has worked very well in their favour. Every channel used – be it social media, email or the Urban Ladder kiosk at airports for that matter, the driving guideline is to allow prospects and customers to engage with the brand in some way. Rather than dilute the interaction to mere discounts or deals, the effort taken to deliver greater value to the prospect has ensured that the brand has built a community of customers and users. This definitely augurs well for a long-term relationship with customers, who stay loyal and retain their involvement with the brand rather than behave like mere deal hunters

Written by: Kirthi Jayakumar
Research team: Pavithra Charan | Keerthi Ramesh | Sujani Dwarak
Special thanks to: Suruchi Jajoo, Corporate Communications, Urban Ladder

The popularity of listicles

How often have you come across content screaming at you from your social media platform, offering up “10 places you have to see before you turn thirty” or “10 reasons why Leonardo di Caprio must win an Oscar”? The range of these new age content gimmicks is as varied as “12 uses for chalk that you never knew about” and “20 different cheeses you should try in your lifetime.” (See what we did there?)

Meet the Listicle.

An article that’s presented in the list format, the listicle has come to remain one of the more enduring trends in both, journalism and content driven marketing. With the rising level of noise on social media – what with brands and individuals competing to be seen, jostling for the limited timeframe of staying visible and relevant – there is an immense need to drive content right home for the recipient of information. Oftentimes, our commutes or waiting times are all the time we get to catch up with the goings-on in the world. In this little span of time, the onus falls squarely on us to figure out a way to find all the information we need.



Listicles can be useful in that you can recycle information and re-present it by re-purposing its original structure. For instance, imagine having written an article relating to the burgeoning trends in the insurance industry. Let’s say you’ve made eight solid points about things to watch out for, and the article was well received in, say, February 2015. You realise that your readership didn’t transcend the weekend interest-driven reader, and you really believe that the youth will benefit from this. So you re-purpose the content, and pull out those eight trends into a “title-two lines-image” format of presenting the piece, and you hit publish. No prizes for guessing what happens next!

The advantage

With plenty of information going up on nearly every discernible space, content providers are in as much of a dilemma to be able to be heard above the chaotic noise. To this end, listicles have proven to be an interesting way to present information. Think of bite sized, clear information with the benefit of useful and intriguing imagery to boot, and think of walking away more aware, and entertained, in the process.
Today, a plethora of sites run on the core premise of being a listicle delivering agency – be it BuzzFeed or ScoopWhoop, or Distractify and even Viral Nova. Listicles are formulaic in their approach: pick an interesting tagline, pull up content in the form of one-liner headings and two-liner introductions, add a relevant image / video / gif, and you’re done!

But on the flip side…
Listicles may be a quick way to present information, but it also comes with the added burden of being too coquettish or light-hearted a mode of presentation. It might render the very purpose of your communication redundant – and might take away the attention from the star of your inbound marketing initiative, while distracting through pictures, gifs or videos. There is also the fact that listicles are often dismissed by the recipient of information as being frivolous attempts to “click bait”, or to capture attention through catchy taglines – while the content within may not be as worthy of the attention it garners.

Case Study: Coca Cola – Open Happiness through Music

What is Coke Studio all about?
coke studio icon logoCoke Studio is an initiative to bring music of different genres together in a mellifluous mélange by the world’s largest beverages company, Coca-Cola. Originally the concept of a Brazilian show called Estudio Coca-Cola, the idea was repurposed for the subcontinent with India and Pakistan having their own versions. The repertoire of musical mixes brought together Carnatic, Hindustani, Sufi music on the one hand, with pop, funk, jazz and rock. The end result was a cumulative range of songs that were curated on YouTube and shared via social media. As a brand, Coca Cola has pivoted around the exuberance of young age, that constantly engaged with music and it was this passion for music that became the central campaign idea. By partnering with MTV, a leading youth platform, they were targeting the right audience mix.

Coke Studio episodes are unique and captivating – bringing in musicians from all across India and International artists and creating studio sessions with musicians jamming to compositions exclusively made for the series. When Coca Cola began with this initiative, they were really up against Pepsi, which had built itself an identity that tied in considerably with the world of cricket. The Indian ethos has often been studied with the barometer of interest in cricket, Bollywood and music – and combinations of each in intriguing ways. Coca Cola found a smart way to make Bollywood and Music come together to create a huge brand strategy for itself.

What worked in the Coke Studio marketing campaign?

Key Take HomesBrand Platform: While the uniqueness of Coke Studio itself was a strong point, what made it more popular was their strategy to take a platform that they had created on TV to various online mediums – building a community of people through the length and breadth of India, regardless of age and musical inclinations. They integrated their presence on social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, along with a separate portal to curate its content. Through its online presence Coke Studio welcomed a community of users to engage with the music while standing in the background as the overarching brand that people can associate the campaign with.

Content Marketing: Coke Studio could have well remained a one-way exchange by staying isolated on television. Instead, it built its audiences by sharing content that appealed to the audience through Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter – such as backstories about musicians, teasers, snippets of the episodes and the episodes itself, it built a high level of engagement. But beyond just sharing, Coke Studio also brought out a series of “FB Blogs”, where the ‘Notes’ application was put to use for a verbose exposition of each show and what it had in store for listeners.

Brand Philosophy: Coke Studio leveraged its brand philosophy right. The youth in this day and age are enterprising, adventurous and unafraid of experimenting with new and unchartered avenues. Capitalising on this, CokeStudio encouraged new bands, finding them space to showcase their skills – be it at institution-level, competitions or nation-wide talent hunts. And in the process, welcomed their audiences to interface and experiment with other bands and earned the goodwill for being a catalyst, which further strengthened their brand community.

Written by Kirthi Jayakumar

Research team Ramya Rajaraman | Keerthi Ramesh

Content in full form

content-marketing - seopressor dot com

The life and soul of anything that’s successful is essentially a single unit that comprises a blend of two things – form, and content. Form is the aesthetic value that sets your matter apart in the eyes of the recipient. Content is the substantial element that goes into the subject matter at hand. In marketing, content plays a pivotal role. Content-based or content marketing is a mechanism of creating and sharing valuable content to attract and convert customers, and to retain existing customers as repeat buyers or subscribers.

Content is, therefore, your way to converse with your customers and potential customers, and your route to building dialogue around the product, service or solution that you provide. What you share and market as your content depends on what your business itself is. If you’re in the fashion business, content pertaining to dressing, trends and fashion tips are your mainstay. If you’re in healthcare, content centres itself around the industry at micro and macro levels of catering to health needs.

The ultimate aim of any endeavour in content marketing is to educate recipients of information on the one hand, and to encourage them to do business with you. It is about creating a space and platform of acceptable thought leadership, and redefining your own place vis-à-vis the relations with a potential customer at any stage of your business’ existence.

How can it help your brand?

Content marketing is one of the best inbound marketing strategies around. Be it through a blog or a video, or a highly active account on one of the social media outlets, that a brand engages in putting information out there for public consumption, and offers up a space for customers to engage with that information, is one way of creating a prominent niche for the business involved.

Secondly, content marketing creates inroads in personalization of a brand’s message. Every piece of content put out there in the name of marketing a brand’s products, solutions or services is a story being told. In telling that story, it is best packaged for the customer to receive and act upon it in a way that allows the customer to feel one with the brand through its philosophy. Content marketing, therefore, encourages bridging the gap between provider and consumer.

Third, content marketing occupies a space of providing extra value to the target audience. Information, entertainment, advice, opinions and awareness come together in an intersectional cusp of sorts, and unifies with the brand voice and image. The expository nature of a brand helps a customer feel that he isn’t just getting the service or the solution he is looking for – but rather, that he is gaining amply, above and beyond the rubric of the ordinary.

One of the most important elements in the process of putting your business out there is to focus on a way to keep customers engaged with you. Marketing as a brand communication process is no longer one-way or linear – and customers are looking for that space to stay engaged not only as brand subscribers, but also as stakeholders. This is where content marketing puts you a step ahead of your competitors.


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Case Study: The Red Elephant Foundation – MyWorld / Post 2015 Agenda

Social Media has the power to change how civil society participates and influences causes and issues they deeply care about.


Leveraging Social Media for the My World Campaign

Set up in June 2013, The Red Elephant Foundation’s work has pivoted around social media and digital media, as it works through storytelling and interactive engagement online. The primary task at hand was to garner votes for one of the My World Campaign, and to encourage as many people as possible to cast a vote. The underlying idea was to democratize the process to encourage the casting of a global vote each at the United Nations, thereby allowing people for the first time to have a direct say in shaping a better world. Regardless of the numbers, the votes matter: the UN is seeking to work closely with governments everywhere to define the next significant global agenda to address extreme poverty and preserve the planet. The data from MY World continues to inform these processes and be used by decision makers around the world.

As a translation of the strategizing, the Red Elephant Foundation marketed the voting process through its own campaign, titled “My Choice for My World“. The process was simple. They reached out to their community of users on the social network, and shared the link to casting the vote, and asked the voters to send in a photograph of themselves with the vote they cast, holding up a poster with the vote they cast, along with the words “#REF4Equality #MyWORLD”. The idea behind this was to encourage interactivity, and to encourage a sense of ownership of the common goal of creating a better future.

In implementing the campaign, the Red Elephant Foundation used social media to garner volunteers, and encouraged community building around each submission. It welcomed participants to cast a vote, and share a photograph of the voter, and then asked the participant to extend it further by getting more participants in and around their immediate community, their families and social circles. In less than six months, the campaign garnered close to 3000 votes across the world, from as far and wide as the United States and Australia, Egypt and Indonesia.

Recognizing that there was a black hole in social media access in certain countries that have laws prohibiting social networking, such as China, the campaign turned digital, as storytelling took precedence and they began to use the photographs collected to share them with people in these countries as an example of how they could be part of the global democratization in choosing the priorities that would define the future of the world. Using blog posts, storytelling and content driven marketing campaigns, the organization succeeded in bringing the lion’s share of votes for the campaign from China.

What worked in the Red Elephant Foundation's marketing campaign

What are the key take home points from The Red Elephant Foundation’s campaign?

Engagement: The first take home is the value placed on engagement. While voting is engagement in its own right, it is not sufficient to allow the right to vote in a vacuum. Priorities for the future and for world peace hinge around many values and parameters for different communities – and to be able to discuss the priorities across borders, using the level playing platform of social media, brought communities together. Engagement for The Red Elephant Foundation is focused on the core theme of empathy-building through storytelling, and this campaign achieved that through photographs.

un nation

Exceptionally high ROI: The second take home is the low investment but high returns dimension of the campaign. In fostering a community of voters and having them share their own photographs, there was no investment whatsoever in crafting creative content. Given that each photo that was put up had its own immediate audience among friends and family of the submitter, and that the community of voters drove their own immediate communities into the campaign as participants, there was no investment in generating virality: the virality was already in place. This is especially useful for non-profits which have smaller budgets and lesser revenue, and have to make difficult decisions in making effective spending possible.

Our Take Away: Social media has applications that can greatly influence the way people around the world connect. It has the power to transform a need to participate in global issues to an actual action that is amplified by the participation of like-minded people, mitigating the limitations posed by geography, distance, culture or age. Social media puts the power of reach, hitherto available to those with large resources into the hands of those who want to make a difference, despite constraints.

Success of campaign was manifold












“I want this to be the most inclusive global development process the world has ever known”

– UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

Written by – Kirthi Jayakumar

Research team – Keerthi Ramesh | Pavithra Charan



Case Study: Magzter – Changing how the world read.

When the internet revolutionized reading habits globally, it undoubtedly shrank space and attention spans for print magazines and newspapers. And yet, there was a small segment of people trying to wed their interests in the old media platform with the opportunities and possibilities created by new technological trends. One such successful venture is Magzter, a new age digital magazine store that has brought the two platforms together in a fantastic union of sorts.


What does Magzter do?

Magzter is an online cloud-based cross-platform magazine forum that came up in 2011. Starting with a modest number of subscribers, their growth to 6 million users brought them and their model global attention from publishers and readers alike. Since their early days, they have added nearly a million new followers each month to reach a magnificent base of 26 million users today, a number that has perhaps become larger since this case study was compiled. Listing thousands of magazines across nearly 2500 different publishers on its platform, Magzter was a revolutionary entrant into the world of magazines, by importing existing avenues of information into a new medium.

Why do publishers love Magzter?

Zero upfront investment and a quick upload are two of the top reasons why! The low-cost revenue share model means all they have to do is to upload their files to Magzter’s cloud-based publishing system, which is then published by Magzter to Android, iOS and Windows 8. Since the data is stored on the cloud, no issue is lost even when devices are switched. On the other end, publishers get to access their very own dashboard on Magzter, which offers them analytics on magazine sales, downloads, and about which articles and ads are being read, and for how long. Expanding beyond the ambit of the regular web application, Magzter also made inroads into the tablet and smart phone world with the same content. About 90 percent of the titles on Magzter are replicas of the print editions in PDF form. Magzter also helps publishers build their own apps if required and they work constantly to improve the reading experience for users. Currently, they are working on ways to improve readability of magazines on the mobile screen, a size much smaller than tablets for which publishers had adapted their digital editions of their magazines.


What is the marketing strategy at Magzter?

One of the questions we had was how Magzter got their early numbers. Marketing surely would have been necessary to get publishers signed up as much as it was needed to get users to download the app. It emerged that Magzter had worked hard to sign up India Today, one of India’s most respected publishers even while the app was being rolled out. This gave them access to not just 35 of India’s leading magazines but lent their business model a lot of credibility in the eyes of other publishers they approached. Growing early users was again a classic case of a great co-promotional alliance with Microsoft. The decision to offer device-embedding by Microsoft, along with active co-promotion of the Magzter Windows8 app on their own platforms including social media gave the app a tremendous boost. From an initial 500 to 1000 downloads a day to over 40,000 downloads a day; the range of users has risen.

Says Girish Ramdas, Co-Founder & CEO of Magzter “In our early days, publishers were not yet convinced about a digital platform. Once they saw us hit over 6 million users within a year, they also felt the need to adapt to the changing reading habits of people. A lot of our next level growth can be attributed to this change in publisher mindset. Many of them who then signed up with us, started evangelizing the platform and promoting it on their own sites, giving the App a whole new audience.” Girish also attributes Magzter’s success to their early belief in being a cross-platform model that supports multiple devices. His observation that the last two years have seen an unprecedented boom in smart-phone, mobile devices and the concept of most users having a ‘second screen’, a tablet or a phablet on which they consume content digitally, on-the-go.

Current Marketing focus at Magzter

Magzter has consciously been positioned as a global business. Headquartered in New York, they have strategically worked out a business that has a viable and sustainable revenue model right from the word go. Paid subscriptions are an important part of their business. Towards this, they have recently launched an “all you can read” subscription model called Magzter Gold, giving a user access to the entire range of magazines on Magzter for a monthly fee – at a fraction of what it would cost the user to individually subscribe to even just a couple of magazines.

Online and Social media: The promotion of Magzter Gold, like their earlier marketing efforts does include the online web version of the portal. In addition, they leverage their large user base by sending relevant in-app notifications and messages to users. A 1.4 million-fan base on Facebook is also a great audience to offer their new options to. They have found all these channels to contribute positively to the business.

International reach: Magzter continues to expand into new locations and regions, adding more publications and users as they do so. This continues to be an important part of their marketing efforts as well, as being a global player is what has given them success on a scale that is viable and sustainable. Although many Indian app makers focus on Android platform, Magzter’s success includes a huge share of iOs (apple) device users. The company reiterates that amongst paying users, the lion-share comes from iOS users, almost on a 10:1 ratio. This makes the iOS audience a significantly important one to market Magzter to.Key TakeAways

Growing with alliances: Learning from their early success, Magzter continues to forge alliances that can give them access to new users. Keeping this side of their marketing alive in India, they have signed up co-promotion deals with HDFC Bank to offer a special discount on Magzter to their card users.


A co-promotion with GroupOn, sending out time-bound offers on Magzter has also helped widen their reach. Of special interest, is their offer of free access to all students of IITs and IIMs in India. By using their student email id, the students of these leading institutions get complete access to content on Magzter. From our perspective, this is a great marketing investment in getting early loyalty from the future professionals of the country. Riding on the e-commerce boom in India, Magzter has tie-ups with FlipKart, Croma and eBay – giving offers that obtain higher visibility for them amongst shoppers on these partner sites.

Magzter has had a fantastic first mover advantage. Although their roots are here in India, they went after a global audience which was ready for their app ahead of India. Their combination of understanding the publisher mindset, reading the opportunities for digital content correctly along with a well-executed business model backed by great technology has given them a leadership position in their field.

To download our e-book that has a whole list of other case studies for you to read, click here.

Written by – Kirthi Jayakumar

Research team – Pavithra Charan

Special thanks to – Girish Ramdas, Co-founder & CEO, Magzter



Digital Media Campaigns and Movies

Did you change your profile picture to include the light saber? Regardless of whether one has seen the original installments of Star Wars or not, today, the world has so ubiquitously come to know of the film – even millennials born way after the movies released – thanks to a clever digital media campaign. From Google to Facebook, Star Wars was a pretty interesting way to wed the internet with the intergalactic. But if you’re thinking theirs was the only marketing mix that included the digital media for the world of films, think again.

One of the most interesting campaigns in recent times was The Hunger Games, which saw the creation of a secret virtual world for fans of the film. The filmmakers picked up on the trend that is now catching on across the world: which is that there is no longer a confined interest in watching a film for a couple of hours. People are inclined towards immersive interactions with characters, worlds and narratives around these worlds.  The digital experience helped give fans a shot at owning a digital experience centered around the movie.

On the other hand, Men in Black III tapped into a very interesting marketing tool, through blogging. One of the key characters in their marketing mix was a blogger called Bugeyes. He was a no-name kid, from a no-name town, bang in the middle of nowhere. He was fourteen, liked computer science and researching extraterrestrials. MIBIII built in a blog that served to curate a variety of posts with information on his blog to prove that aliens and the men in black were real. It was as interesting as it could get – creating an interesting fan-dom climate that welcomed more and more newer fans into the fold. The Facebook plug-in generated over 129,000 likes for the post. IBS Website - Cover Photo (1)


Deconstructing the medium and making a foray into the tablets, X-Men: First Class gave its fans a brilliant experience through an ultra-realistic digital magazine. An interactive, free iPad app, called X-Men Extra came up – and here’s the fun part: it was originally actually a digital magazine that featured period pieces dating back to the 1960s. There were pieces about the X-Men, captioned photos, embedded audio clips, videos and clever special features.

Even a lighthearted movie had a lot to gain from digital media tools.  The Simpsons Movie actually created real Kwik-E-Marts for its fans, and the marketing team developed a bunch of creative ideas for its online engagement. Some of these ideas included an integrated campaign that allowed fans to do everything from making their own Simpsons-avatar, to explore Springfield digitally, and to even play games.

A potty-mouthed teddy bear is enough to make a certain part of the movie-watching demographic give in to all temptation possible and watch the movies. But, when the digital marketing route hopped on board, Ted, the world’s most famous inappropriately-speaking bear became something of a hot favourite. And he was everywhere: on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, through a blog of his own, in the form of an app for your phone, and even an avatar invader that allows you to superimpose his picture onto yours. Ted is something of an iconic character now, one that has a place to sit at every dinner table and social gathering alike, all thanks to the larger-than-life marketing campaign.

And finally, our favourite at IBS: Inception. Pun fully intended, of course. Who said we weren’t allowed to pick favourites, now? Jokes apart, Chris Nolan’s Inception was a larger-than-life experience in the cinemas. But on digital media, it single-handedly was a mind-blowing gaming experience. One of their more popular tools was the game “Mind Crime”, where users would sink deeper into a complex world of intrigue and dreams. There were also interviews with dream scientists, QR codes and digital scavenger hunt promotions, and real life articles and websites that related to the movie.



Case Study: Slice of Health – Health is wealth, literally!

Page 2 visual_SOHBuilding a Brand Platform benefits the company by creating an emotional and functional connect with the customer that will ultimately increase the offline recall value of the brand itself.

What’s the campaign all about?
Chola MS, a General Insurance Company in India, offers a wide range of insurance policies for individuals and the corporate sector. For the most part, this industry is viewed as a business, and in many prudent households, as a necessity in the event of an unforeseen unfortunate event. To this end, the perception of insurance is often linked to a negative occurrence. This being a given in most instances, conversations linked to insurance and its allied avenues have been heavily needs-based, and driven by the need to find out more on the technicalities involved.

Deconstructing the business-end image of Insurance: The perception of “insurance” as a commodity has locked people away from engaging dialogues. This was the glass ceiling that Chola MS Insurance was seeking to break. With an ongoing radio show called “Slice of Health”, the company made inroads into a portion of the demographic by presenting nuggets of information for one’s well-being, health and longevity, through conversations with experts in the field. The audience that forms the consumer base in receipt of information in a radio show is confined to a certain segment of the demographic that use radios. With a view to expanding the scope of reach for the message, it was decided to scale the concept of Slice of Health by making inroads into the digital and social media space.


Beyond the Radio into Social Media: In an attempt to break the ice and get a conversation going on the value that one should place on their health, the campaign started with creating and curating a Microsite/ Blog, a Facebook page and a Twitter handle under the name “Slice of Health” in May 2014. The blog shared content on contemporary challenges people encounter in health, fitness & well-being, on tips and tricks to stay healthy, and on ways to address specific challenges in one’s lifestyle in a way that would incorporate good health in daily living. While at the conceptual stage, the marketing strategy approached the needs with a pragmatic view by identifying all the chief areas of concern in the lives of their customers that intersected with their offerings.

Making inroads into Digital and Social Media: Slice of Health began online with a Microsite and a Facebook page in May 2014, and jumpstarted with a 65% Engagement. In the initial days of the social media presence, the marketing strategy began with live posts and a real-time, in depth and detailed coverage of the radio show. Simultaneously, there was a system in place to do a write up that would cover the show and its contents, which was then posted on the Slice of Health site. These posts showed high levels of engagement and were significant catalysts in driving traffic to the site. All the posts were shared on the Chola Brand page alongside the page specifically set aside for Slice of Health, thereby engaging the existing follower base of Chola MS also.

What worked in the SOH campaign
















The Content Angle: In line with the big picture in which health is set: the public health and development context, the relevance of campaigns were underscored through the journey. The platform undertook campaigns under the World Health Organization’s umbrella to deal with Vector-borne diseases and Food safety, by explaining to its subscribers, ways to ensure that their near and dear ones as well as their food remained safe at every turn. The curated content was placed on the blog, so that it would turn into a rich content archive. When the SOH concept expanded from radio to online marketing, there was greater traffic driven to the radio show, which then went national to 15+ Indian cities, in October 2014. The Facebook page that began with 432 likes in May 2014, wound up with 28,068 likes by January and February 2015, with a 90% engagement.Key Take home points
















SOH InfographicSOH_4








Reach and engage people more









To download our e-book that has a whole list of other case studies for you to read, click here.

Written By: Kirthi Jayakumar

Research Team: Roshini John | Anusha Koushik

Special thanks to: Neeraj Moorjani (Head- Marketing & Customer Lifecycle Management, Chola MS General Insurance) | Ananda Mahadevan (Digital Marketing Head, Chola MS General Insurance)