India’s Bollywood scene probably churns out more films each year than any other country in the world. What makes this one different? Aside from being one that was produced for an ad campaign, the auditions were held… on Facebook.
Devised and developed by digital agency AKQA, London, “New Star of India” is a five-minute short film that stars famous Bollywood actor, Ranbir Kapoor alongside 20 co-stars that were selected via Facebook from all across India.
The major production is the grand finale of a traditional and social media campaign to promote the Nissan Micra. A spot to promote the film is being shown across 3,500 cinemas in India.
The talent hunt was launched online in October with the support of the Times of India network, including their leading daily newspaper, TV and radio channels. Bollywood fans were given the opportunity to win a place in the movie by uploading a short video clip of them dancing, and auditions were also conducted in shopping malls across nine cities in India.
Over 2,300 excited fans entered the contest and then used every means possible to coax their friends and family to vote for their entries on Facebook. The top 100 were selected based on number of votes, which were then narrowed down to the top 20 lucky winners from all parts of India, selected by Ranbir and his team.
The film uses a classic Bollywood storyline where Nissan’s world conspires to unite two lovers. The production was shot at Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad, India and was directed by choreographer and director Ahmed Khan, who is well-known in the Indian film industry. Offroad Films, Andheri, headed the production, which was filmed by Filmfare Award winning cinematographer Ravi. K. Chandran and will be launched primarily on Nissan India’s Facebook and YouTube channels.
The campaign has made Nissan the first brand to use social media to create a platform targeted at youth across India, encouraging them to engage. This new approach to automobile campaigns in the country has helped build Nissan’s Facebook community from around 200 fans to over 500,000, now making it one of the top automotive brands on Facebook in India, which is a feat considering Facebook has just 3.5% penetration in India.
In preparation for shooting, AKQA's team researched by watching both traditional and over-the-top Bollywood films to achieve a surreal but classic story with an epic feel.
“Nissan is a relatively new entrant into the Indian market so we wanted to rapidly become part of the conversation by doing something fresh and different,” says David Parkinson, GM Social and Digital communications EMEA and India at Nissan.
Image: 20 winners starred alongside Bollywood actor, Ranbir Kapoor [right]
Video: Nissan "New Star of India" starring Ranbir Kapoor
Image: Facebook fans' profile pictures were turned into art on set
“The New Star of India campaign has been immensely successful in helping Nissan build an emotional connection with Indian youth, and of course given us a great platform to continue the conversation with India at scale”.
Several of those who auditioned found their way into the film as their Facebook profile pictures were turned into art on set. The film also left several post-production decisions such as shot-choices and character-names to the Facebook community.
Creative Directors, Alistair Mills and Greg Mullen say: “So many people got involved in auditioning that we wanted to reward as many people as possible by actually putting them on set. It’s got profile pictures featured everywhere: painted on walls, on posters and even on TV screens.”
Want to see what it’s like being on a Bollywood film set? Meet the creative team in the ‘Making of’ video. See the winning auditions on Nissan India's Facebook page.