Omar Lulu is a relatively new name in the Malayalam film Industry. Omar’s debut film Happy Wedding released in 2016 was a low-budget movie that surprised box office. Omar’s talent lies introducing new actors to the industry. With Priya Varrier, Omar certainly seems to have struck gold.
Omar’s third film ‘Oru Adaar Love’ features all newcomers including Priya Varrier. The films marketing plan was following its usual marketing trajectory which involves releasing songs on Youtube followed by teaser, trailer and dialogue promos. But a wink changed all that!
How a wink changed everything?
Feb 9, 2018 (Slow Start): Omar’s team decided to release the films title song “Manikya Malaraya Poovi” on Feb 9, 2018. The filmmakers anticipated the song to gain some traction with the audience before Valentine’s Day. What followed is something that the entire crew could have never anticipated?
Feb 10, 2018 (Story Breaks on Social Media): The video received over 1 million views and 50,00 likes on YouTube in the first 20 hours after upload. However, the video wasn’t yet on Google trends radar until Feb 11, 2018. Meanwhile, Priya Varrier sets-up her official Facebook Fan Page, and Twitter handle to cash in on the film’s popularity. Priya’s Instagram account has over 1,500 followers.
The song which runs 3 minutes and 16 seconds features several actors. In fact, if you skip the video after watching first 15 seconds or less you will undoubtedly miss seeing Priya Varrier on screen.
Users on YouTube usually point out to sections of a video that they like or dislike in the comments section. The platform regularly features comments with maximum interactions on top of the section. Gradually, publishers, meme creators and rest of the community noticed the 26-second clip featuring Priya Varrier’s expressions.
Feb 11, 2018 (Content Creators Celebrate the Story on Social Media & Dark Web): On February 11 and 12, the words ‘Priya Prakash Varrier’, ‘Priya Varrier video’, and ‘Priya Varrier Instagram’ were some of the most searched for words on Google.
Feb 12, 2018 (Traditional Media Covers the Story): Priya Varrier’s Instagram account crosses 1 million followers. The account added 606k followers on Instagram in 24 hours, making it the third highest number of followers anyone has managed to get. She’s preceded by American reality TV star and model Kylie Jenner (806k) and footballer Cristiano Ronaldo (650k).
The memes featuring Priya Varrier clip exploded on Feb 12, 2018, in fact, she outstripped even Bollywood stars like actor Deepika Padukone and Sunny Leone in number of searches.
Feb 13, 2018 (Story Develops Further on Social): The filmmakers release the teaser for the film on Feb 13, 2018, on YouTube. Meanwhile, Priya Varrier’s Instagram account crosses 2.3 million followers.
Feb 14, 2018 (Follow Stories Emerge): On YouTube, the “Manikya Malaraya Poovi” video crosses 15 million views. Priya Varrier’s Facebook Page crosses 2,50,000 fans, and her Instagram account crosses 2.8 million followers. Priya’s Twitter follower count crosses 57K followers. The teaser video released gets over 5.7 million views. The video also receives its first complaint for offending religious sentiments.
Feb 15, 2018 (Story stays live on indexing and continuously referenced/commented on): Google news has over 21,800 search results under news listings and 27,60,000 overall search results for the keyword ‘Priya Varrier’ between Feb 9 to Feb 15, 2018. Priya Varrier continues to add more fans/followers to her existing base across platforms.
The meme creators had a huge role in popularising the video on social media especially the dark web. Search for ‘Priya Varrier Viral Video’ on Youtube lists 27,000 videos. Search results include interviews, parody videos, reaction video and even fans trying to mimic Priya’s expressions.
What does this mean for the filmmakers and can they capitalize this trend?
For the filmmakers, the video has given them unprecedented publicity. Considering the film’s overall budget was 30 crores the coverage and media attention they have garnered from the content would easily surpass their total marketing budget.
The story helped the filmmakers to trend alongside ‘Priya Varrier’ which is pretty evident from the Google Trends report.
The filmmakers were also smart enough to release the teaser for the film on Feb 13, 2018, which sort of maintained the ripple effect. In the above chart, you will notice high peaks and valleys; the tricky part really is to maintain the high peaks for a longer duration as micro trends usually have a shorter lifespan. Unlike other microtrends, this one will not result in a change in cultural values as it only offers entertainment value.
So with the film expected to release on June 14, 2018, how can the filmmakers keep the momentum going? To start off with Omar Lulu, the film’s director is making few alterations in the script to give more screen time to Priya’s character in the film. Considering the attention she has received, this makes sense as the audience which walks into the theatre otherwise would be disappointed. Omar’s team is focused on finishing the shoot for now. The team will work on the films promotional strategy after completing the shoot.
Omar’s team could have created shorter clips of Priya Varrier which could have featured on queries like Priya Varrier Age, Priya Prakash Movie etc. The media team could have used Google Adwords on selected search terms to promote the clips. But having said that promoting the movie heavily at this stage could be an overkill. Also, considering they didn’t anticipate the attention the video received the team would have been underprepared.