“Khana paani, sar pe chhat, bistar. Sab toh hai.. baaki khaali haath aaye the, khaali haath hi toh jaana hai,” says Arjun in Guns & Gulaabs, played by Dulquer Salmaan. This dialogue also summarizes Guns & Gulaabs’ edgy attitude and what it stands for. From action, crime, thriller, and romance to comedy, Netflix’s new original Guns & Gulaabs is a pulpy drama that fuses everything into one series. So, while marketing the series, Netflix also found a sweet spot between these varied genres and put together a mix of entertainment for its audiences.
The marketing efforts relied largely on digital media with focus being acquainting the audience with the characters even before they are invested in the story. With regular posts and updates, a narrative was created placing emphasis on building a backdrop of Gulaabgunj in viewers’ minds. Filled with a saturated color palette and quirky graphics, the marketing imagery made sure that Guns & Gulaabs stood out and grabbed eyeballs while being imprinted in viewers’ minds.
Remarkable creative forces
The duo of Raj & DK have made a lot of noise with the quality of content they have produced in recent years. From The Family Man and Farzi to Go Goa Gone, they have showcased their creative prowess in world building as writers as well as directors. Seeing their potential, Netflix has made a multi-year deal with the duo and Guns & Gulaabs is the first of many more future series.
Netflix has leveraged Raj & DK’s growing popularity as a short announcement clip had been released by the platform on January 31, 2022 revealing the duo’s involvement in the series.
The starry lineup
The cast features some prominent faces in critical roles. Rajkummar Rao, Gulshan Devaiah, Dulquer Salmaan, and Adarsh Gourav essay the roles of the four principal characters. Other key characters are played by Satish Kaushik(one of his last screen appearances), TJ Bhanu, Goutam Sharma, Pooja Gor, Shreya Dhanwanthary, Vipin Sharma, and Varun Badola.
The principal characters were revealed a few weeks before the official release with quirky clips that featured introductions of the characters and their looks.
Pictures from the set of the series were shared by the creators while the production was going on.
Each character and their quirks were further established on YouTube.
With a countdown of days remaining for the release, Netflix shared clips that featured unique aspects of Gulaabgunj. The videos were titled in a way that emphasized that particular aspect such as, “Guns & Gulaabs ke Gangsters,” “Guns & Gulaabs ka Chase Sequence,” “Guns & Gulaabs ki Comedy,” and “Guns & Gulaabs ki Friendship.”
Do Raazi music video
With the series capturing the 90s essence, it was important to feature elements of that era that made it special. One such element was the romantic songs with 90s vibe. Netflix roped in the iconic Kumar Sanu to record a special song for the series. The song is titled “Do Raazi” and a music video of the same name was released by Netflix to create a buzz.
The OTT series also hosted a screening in Mumbai on August 16, which was attended by some big Bollywood movie stars. The star-studded lineup included the likes of Richa Chadha, Bhoomi Pednekar, Huma Qureshi, and Ishaan Khattar. The event was hosted by writer/comedian Rohan Joshi.
Netflix India did Q&A-style short interviews with the series’ cast as well as other celebrities featuring Rohan Joshi. In the video, Joshi is seen asking questions to the celebrities regarding their memories of the 90s era and what things they would bring back from it if they could.
Collaboration with Content Creators
Netflix collaborated with popular content creators and shared videos on their YouTube channel. Youtubers Kullu and Satish Ray did a review of the series’ trailer in a hilarious way commenting on the elements of Gulaabgunj in their sarcastic way.
Harnessing the popularity of one of India’s most famous YouTube stars Ashish Chanchlani, Netflix made a skit video in which he raids the offices of Netflix India and proposes a plan to market the series.
Netflix also collaborated with musician and social media personality Yashraj Mukhate. He created a musical video wondering about the plot and characters of Guns & Gulaabs.
A collaboration was done with celebrity couple Karan Kundrra and Tejasswi Prakash. In the video, the couple can be seen looking for a solution to their public display of affection getting trolled. A character from the series can be seen solving their problem by giving them a lion’s toenail that would protect them from bad juju.
In a special video, Netflix India collaborated with ace Indian Cricketer Shikhar Dhawan. In the video, Dhawan can be seen during workout and exercises that resemble the actions done by characters in the series.
Social media engagement
Netflix India shared custom pictures crafted in a template that is usually used in family WhatsApp groups and asked users to share these their own WhatsApp groups. The pictures contain quotes from characters in the series that are paraphrased to resemble the quotes typically shared on Indian families’ WhatsApp groups.
After the release of the series on the platform, Netflix shared a collage of moments from the series on its social media handles on different platforms. These contain stills from the series with names of iconic songs and the soundtrack in the captions. The caption of the post read, “These moments were a 10 but with the soundtrack, they’re now a 100.”
Netflix India shared artworks created by artist Aarushi Jain which were featured in the series’ credits. The artworks featured 90s aesthetics and involved elements unique to that era.
To enhance audience engagement even more, Netflix shared a video in which Rajkummar Rao is seen writing a letter to his beloved but is unable to figure out what to write. While he is stuck in a writer’s block, at the end he suggests viewers to send “Hi” to a WhatsApp number being flashed on the screen through which they will be able to get Guns & Gulaabs style love letters for their beloved.
On August 19, the series’ marketing went all in with their efforts. The series’ ad was put up on the front cover of The Times of India. The two-page ad featured the four protagonists of the series who are placed on the map of Gulaabgunj, creating mystery around the fictitious town. The ad featured QR codes that redirected to short videos on Netflix’s YouTube channel. The creative was jointly designed by studio Hey Doode and Creativeland Asia.
The cast of the series went on an interview spree promoting the release. They featured in interviews with the likes of Zakir Khan and Aishwarya Mohanraj which were posted on Netflix’s own channel on YouTube. The stars also appeared in interviews on other popular channels including Zoom, The Quint, Pinkvilla and Film Companion.
The hype and the marketing efforts proved to be fruitful as the series not only became successful in India but in the United States as well. The series has received a great response from the audience as it was almost 5 times more in demand than the average TV series in the US.
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