How curiosity helped build the Orry brand, Marketing & Advertising News, ET BrandEquity

<p>Orhan ‘Orry’ Awatramani (photo credit: Andrew Kimber)</p>
Orhan ‘Orry’ Awatramani (photo credit: Andrew Kimber)

A few weeks ago, ‘Who the hell is Orry?’ was the first question to pop up each time anyone scrolled through any Bollywood content. For the uninitiated, fashion influencer and Bollywood insider Orhan ‘Orry’ Awatramani has been ubiquitous on the film industry’s social scene for a while now, often spotted hanging out with actors — and his ‘BFFs’ — Janhvi Kapoor, Sara Ali Khan and Ananya Panday.

But in November, the 28-year-old socialite seemed to embody ‘everything, everywhere all at once’, posing up-close with familiar faces at every high-profile celebrity event.

Branding masterclass

Despite this, no one had any definitive answers as to who he was. Online searches for [sic] ‘who is orry’, ‘Orry kon hai’ and ‘what does orry do’ rose significantly. Between October 21 and November 11, ‘Orry’ searches saw a 67x spike. By November 26, the day of his special appearance on Bigg Boss 17, searches for ‘Who is Orry’ reached peak popularity. The majority of traffic was interestingly from unexpected places such as Arunachal Pradesh, Goa and Chandigarh. Searches for [sic] ‘Who is Orry Awatramani parents’ and ‘Orry net worth’ spiked too.

AIB’s former head writer Devaiah Bopanna believes Orry is playing the Kardashian fame game. “I don’t doubt Orry when he says he is a genius marketer. He knows exactly what he is doing — meme your way into mainstream pop culture and celebrityhood, and then spin it off into one or many multi-million-dollar businesses,” he recently wrote on Twitter.

Orry has already begun spinning that ‘fame’ into brand collaborations. In August, Netflix used the curiosity around Orry to promote its film, Heart Of Stone, while in October, Bumble leveraged his perceived lack of relatability as the premise for its ‘I’m Just Like You’ campaign (a script Orry says he wrote).

Cred’s Kunal Shah says teaming up with Orry for their latest ad film was a natural extension of the experimental approach that the brand is known for. “We’re known for doing different things, not just working with known celebrities. We’ve done animation and music, and the Orry ad was just one of those experiments,” Shah says.

Netflix and Bumble declined to comment for this story.

For marketers, part of Orry’s allure is the large number of social media followers he has. “In the last 30 days, his Instagram has gained over 3,00,000 followers and collaborations with global, well-known brands such as Netflix, Bumble and Cred gave him more credibility,” says Nick Baklanov, research specialist at influencer marketing platform, HypeAuditor. “I would say that his collaborations now can cost about $30,000 to $50,000”.

An Instagram post on his feed is expected to cost about $670 to $2,000, while a story could set brands back by $300 to $1,000.

The man in question, though, says the sudden spotlight on him isn’t a marketing strategy; “It’s not planned,” Orry says.

But he does acknowledge this: He’s either always thinking about or working on his brand. “I know the DNA of the Orry brand — what’s on or off-brand. I know how to manipulate a photo, sell a story, make a dull moment shiny and shiny moments shinier,” he says. “I know how to sell you the dream that you don’t have and the dream that possibly even I don’t have.”

Building up curiosity

So far, Orry has deflected questions about his education and livelihood with seemingly meaningless quips like “I work on myself” or “I live life, so I’m a liver”. Some say that by maintaining a secretive aura about his life, Orry is milking the curiosity around him.

But he disagrees with this assumption. “Somebody once said about me, ‘He is by far the most public person in the world but [is] still private’ — I really like that. Between Snapchat and Instagram, I story everything. You’re with me almost 24 hours a day,” he says. “I recognise that this glamorous world isn’t available to everyone. I’m happy to share it with my followers, but I’m not obligated to answer anything. If you say I’m an open book with a few pages that are stuck together, I’d say the book isn’t over yet. The questions you have will be answered as we approach the end of this novel.”

The 28-year-old is adamant about not answering questions about his family and is quite cryptic when it comes to revealing how his friend circle was cultivated. “I’ve met them [the celebrities] along the way,” is all he says, rather mysteriously.

However, independent marketing consultant Karthik Srinivasan believes that maintaining privacy about parts of his life is par for the course when building a personal brand. “Usually, people misunderstand ‘personal branding’ as ‘being out there’ or ‘being 100% authentic’. But it isn’t about living one’s life 24×7 in front of the world,” he says. Instead, it’s about cherry-picking aspects and consistently projecting them, so that people remember the person for those.

“In Orhan’s case, the mystery element of what he doesn’t talk about comes directly from the celebrity connection. It’s less of ‘Who is Orry?’ and considerably more of ‘Who is Orry who is seen next to X [a celebrity]?’,” Srinivasan surmises.

Short-term marketing tactic?

Experts say that enigma alone can take a brand only so far. Image consultant and integrative personal counsellor Benaisha Kharas Dongre says, “Curiosity sustained for too long can develop into frustration.”

“Curiosity or mystique would be a good hook to get people interested, but once they are interested, it needs to be fed with something tangible [over time],” agrees Srinivasan.

A case in point being when Frooti rebranded itself in 2001 and created the character ‘Digen Verma’. That was backed by a multimedia teaser campaign that intentionally omitted the brand name, generating massive curiosity. “But once it was revealed that he [Digen Verma] was a character created to promote Frooti, people’s interest waned, which is the danger with any brand that is hyped on the basis of curiosity,” cautions Sumanto Chattopadhyay, former chairman and CCO, 82.5 Communications, Ogilvy Group. Finding ways to up the ante with surprises that fuel curiosity can help a brand sustain for longer, he adds.

Making the movies grander

As brands had come up with moment marketing to capture on the buzz of ongoing topics; movies took also caught up on this train at the other end through collaborative marketing. The idea was simple, to collaborate with brands and bring out limited edition products or experiences for the fans of the movie or the star cast.

  • Published On Dec 20, 2023 at 07:51 AM IST

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