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For the premiere of the movie Suicide Squad, HBO wanted to break away from the clutter by taking the characters into the audience’s personal and informal space where the channel wasn’t selling or pushing. And just letting them have some fun with the Suicide Squad. And for that purpose, HBO, as part of campaign conceptualised and executed by FoxyMoron, chose a rather unusual platform — WhatsApp.

The idea was to engage fans on a clutter-free mobile platform with interesting content that will keep them coming back for more. Normally, when brands look to interact with their fans, the first few platforms they turn to are Facebook and Instagram.

The most ideal aspect about the WhatsApp platform is the fact that it is used by people on a daily basis. But WhatsApp as a platform is neglected by brands even though it has over 200 million active users in India. This is because of the common perception that it is not a very campaign-friendly platform and is tedious for marketers to execute a campaign because the metrics are manual.

For Suicide Squad, HBO really got the people to join the villains. How? By giving them a number. By mass communication on its social media handles, the channel showcased that the villains of Suicide Squad had a phone number, and the messages came pouring in like never before. Through visuals which spoke only in the movie colors, the users were engaged with consistently on all platforms through various activities, be it talking in the villain's voice, or asking them to depict the dialogues in Hindi.


The first step involved pushing the WhatsApp number across various social platforms; social media as well as an on-air push on the channel itself. The campaign started by asking users to add the number on WhatsApp through HBO India's social handles (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) with a message saying ‘Villains now have a number’ — HBO India.

Step 1

‘Villains now have a number’ — HBO India. FoxyMoron pushed the number on the brand’s social handles and channel itself.

Step 2

Once the fans got a hold of the number, they could chat and the channel and the digital agency was there to answer all their questions and speak to them on a one-on-one basis. A villain would respond and give the fans a friendly jolt that would get them chatting. Each fan received customised responses in the Suicide Squad villain’s tonality.

Step 3

Each fan received customised responses in their favourite villain’s style on a daily basis.

Step 4

To keep the fan-base engaged, the channel leveraged the ‘WhatsApp status’, for which they began by adding incoming numbers to their contact list. Through the status, they engaged fans with daily contests, villain takeovers and exclusive as well as never-seen-before content from the movie.

Here are the details on how HBO kept the fans engaged on this unexplored feature of the platform:

Daily contests

Every evening, there was a new contest for its fans. These contests ranged from guessing games to imitating movie dialogues to even giving their suggestions for a Bollywood Suicide Squad.

Every day, they were giving out film merchandise and vouchers, which actually got the fans to participate along with conversing on a daily basis.

What the channel and FoxyMoron did for the WhatsApp status contests;

  • They asked fans to mimic their favourite villain by sending a voice note of a dialogue or humming the official soundtrack of the movie and received over 2200 voice notes.
  • They also utilised WhatsApp status’s doodle feature to get people to doodle themselves to look like one of the villains from the film and received over 500 doodles.

Villain takeovers

  • Seven days prior to the screening of the premiere, every day the villain conversed with the fans in a particular villain’s style. Not only that, he would greet fans with voice notes and share the best scenes of that villain. The contest of the day was inspired by that villain too.
  • This contest revolved around popular comedian Karan Talwar aka Bollywood Gandu to add a Bollywood twist. He gave suggestions on which Bollywood actors could portray Suicide Squad characters. On the basis of the same, the people were asked to send in their Bollywood suggestions too.


The campaign ended on a good note with endless users talking about the movie, even after the premiere. The campaign enabled HBO to connect with its fans on a one-on-one basis and build a personal connect with them. Not only that, they could capitalise on a on a clutter-free platform such as WhatsApp, which fans utilise on a general basis, sometimes even more than Facebook.

HBO became India’s first entertainment brand to capitalise on the WhatsApp status feature. Suicide Squad became the #1 Movie of the Week on HBO. The average channel reach during the movie premiere week increased by 15%.

This made HBO India the first entertainment brand to capitalise on the WhatsApp status feature

  • In a matter of a couple of hours, the channel gathered over 1,000 contacts organically.
  • The campaign continued for three weeks gaining above 8,000 new contacts almost every day.
  • In total, they gathered over 10,000 chats.
  • Received above 1,00,000 messages.

The video:

Disclaimer: The data related to the performance of the campaign has been claimed by brand/agency/platform/creator. has not verified the authenticity of the data and hence is not responsible for any counter claim by any other party

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