Haroon Bijli demystifies the current prevailing trend of paid influencer marketing with this hilarious example.
Somewhere in an urban area in Tamil Nadu, a man receives a call from a familiar number.
“Saar. You thought of me, saar! How can I serve you saar!”
“Yenna thambi, how are you? All well? Family well?”
“Yes saar! Everything is fine saar! How can I serve you saar!”
“Well, a very important thing. You know elections are coming and I’m running too…”
“Congrats saar! You got ticket!”
“Yes yes. Madam is planning a big rally in our city. Really big. We have to bring out the whole works. Crowds must be full. What can you arrange?”
“Saar, anything saar, you tell me. 30-40 thousand will come just like that. Good budget? We can get one lakh more people easily. How much budget?”
“Biryani, Rs 201 in cash, white dhoti for men, blouse piece for women. One bottle Cosmopolitan also for men.”
“Saar… saar that is in 2009. Last year for Lok Sabha, the other party had offered Rs 501 cash for each person. And unlimited Cosmopolitan. Forget this dhoti, blouse piece and all, no one wants that and anyway they sell it later. So why…”
“Yes saar, unlimited. The party has now an alliance in our neighbouring state saar. He is a big supplier, and Kerala has prohibited liquor. So what I was saying is that they are used to this now”
“Ok, done. 501 in cash and unlimited Cosmopolitan”
“Right saar. 1.5 lakh people guaranteed from my side.”
“Thanks… I know I can rely on you.”
Thambi gets down to business. Calls up a few henchmen for a quick stand-up meeting.
“See, this is a big one. We need to make a lot of noise. We get this party to work with us, our future is guaranteed.”
“Saar, 1.5 lakhs… possible?”
“Oh yes. Jamal, you work on Idrees Maulavi. Karthik, you work on Narayan Potti and I will work on Palanisamy and Father Muthu. We get them to come with us, we get the free people. For others, no worries… Cosmopolitan is there!”
“Saar, if nothing works, Cosmopolitan works saar. You are a genius saar”.
Rally done, he receives a call from the same number.
“Thambi, you are a genius! Madam is now proud of me! We silenced everyone with their cheers! My ears are still ringing with their applause!”
“Saar, all due to Palani’s blessings, Saar. He has made the goddess Lakshmi come to you!”
A few weeks later, the election results are out. Thambi receives the call again. This time, the man on the other side is not so happy.
“What happened, Thambi? We lost!”
“Well saar, what can I say. You wanted crowd for the rally, I got the crowd to the rally. You wanted noise, you got noise. You gave Cosmopolitan, they drank Cosmopolitan. You paid Rs 501, they bought more Cosmopolitan.”
“But… but… you were good there… but…”
“Saar, what to do… don’t think bad saar, but I sent the same people to the other party’s rally as well. Business is business saar.
“That is fine, but what I don’t understand is they cheered so loud and yet…”
“Saar… don’t take it badly saar, they cheered for Cosmopolitan, not you or Madam.”
This is work of fiction. Any resemblance to any social media agency or politician is unintentional. However, resemblance to influencer-driven social media campaigns, though, is quite intentional.
This contains a lot of local words and references. Apologies if you can’t fully understand. Oh and Cosmopolitan is a cheap whiskey popular in south India. The article was originally published here.