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Marketing in India has undergone a significant transformation over the years, evolving from traditional approaches to more innovative and engaging content strategies. One notable trend that has emerged in recent times is the use of intertextuality, a technique that leverages references to external texts, such as scenes from films, popular dialogues or music.

We already know that advertisements that try to do a ‘hard-sell’ to their customers are not working well with the youth who want to be sold a product through an engaging story. They want more branded content and less conventional ads. So the question arises, how does one go about trying to appeal to the masses and weaving in the story at the same time?

While we have previously seen popular music from films being used in various ads, using scenes and dialogues from popular Hindi films is a new way of going about it. The Intertextuality makes the content appear fresh and creates a unique connection with the audience by giving the viewer a kind of sequel to her favourite film. In this article, we explore how brands like Rungta Steel, Dunzo, Acko, and Oppo are embracing intertextuality to create memorable and impactful marketing content.  Some are doing this in an ad style while others are moving to the branded content Style.  Let’s see what works better.

Rungta Steel: Crafting a storyline to be remembered

Rungta se ghar nai banaya toh kya banaya

In Rungta Steel's recent film, the brand deviates from the traditional narrative structure. Unlike conventional ads that focus on showcasing the product to be sold, Rungta Steel opts for a different approach. The communication does not delve into the brand's history or product features. Instead, it relies solely on intertextuality, by showcasing Shahrukh Khan, Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor - three very popular Hindi film stars, each portraying their iconic characters from their respective films.

There are a lot of intertextual elements in the film - While SRK portrays his character from the recent film Jawan, Ranbir Kapoor plays Barfi and Alia Bhatt plays Shanaya from Student of the Year. The script is written in such a way that offers room for a lot of inside jokes between the audience and the actors - SRK mis-characterises Ranbir Kapoor’s character by calling him by different names of characters he’s played over the years.  

Towards the end of the film, there is even a meta moment when the director of the film says ‘cut’ and we see Ranbir Kapoor break the fourth wall and address the audience by saying that he did not get any dialogues from Rungta Steel company.

While this is certainly a quirky way of making a film, it moves the focus away from the product or even the brand itself and solely focuses on the intertextual elements. While the film could get attention and be remembered for the scene and the acting (the story enters the audience’s memory structures), the brand name is most likely to be forgotten.  Thus this TVC and the media spend will likely do more to build the movie stars’ brand value and not as much for Rungta Steel.

Dunzo: Engaging content

Dunzo Daily Campaign | Tareekh Pe Tareekh | Sunny Deol

Dunzo's marketing strategy takes intertextuality a step further, creating a storyline that is engaging and resonates with the audience. By using Sunny Deol as the protagonist in this film, the brand plays around with intertextuality by employing his iconic dialogue ‘Tareekh pe Tareekh’ from the film Damini to highlight Dunzo’s lightning-fast service. The intended message is that Dunzo is a brand that does not delay the products, the customers get their delivery on time with Dunzo’s lightning (as can be seen in its logo) fast speed. The brand even successfully employs the brand colours by emitting a green light in the visuals whenever the brand message/voiceover plays.

The messaging is clear and the branding is done right, and by incorporating intertextual elements, Dunzo manages to capture the audience's attention and leave a lasting impression.  Dunzo leverages popular culture in an ad style and this does work.

Acko: Characters as storytellers

ACKO Se Top Up Kara na Maamu! | ACKO Platinum Health Plan

Acko, a disruptor in the insurance industry, leverages intertextuality by using characters of Munna Bhai and Circuit from Rajkumar Hirani’s cult classic film Munna Bhai MBBS. However, the brand does not weave a full fleshed story, it merely showcases the characters taking a patient on a gurney while discussing his health insurance policy. The film does not leave a big impact as the characters are not central to the storytelling and the duration is also short.

Oppo Reno Series 11: Leveraging Sid's acumen

OPPO Reno11 Series || The Portrait Expert

The Oppo Reno Series 11's phone video takes a completely unique approach by incorporating the professional photographic acumen of Sid, a character portrayed by Ranbir Kapoor in his cult classic film - Wake up Sid.

The film is crafted in a very skilful way, by using a lot of elements and references from Wake Up Sid. The film does not seem like a conventional ad, instead, the viewer gets an inside look into the life of their favourite characters - Sid and Ayesha after almost 15 years. It is no surprise that the video has garnered 38 Million views on YouTube. The video uses nostalgia to pull the viewer in as the bond with the characters of Sid and Ayesha seems a long-lost one that the viewer has rekindled by the way of this film.

However, the film is so artfully made that the product does not lose its importance - it is vital to the story and the emphasis on the phone’s camera has a strong association with Sid who was a professional photographer in the film.

By tapping into the creative world of photography, Oppo Reno Series 11 creates a narrative that not only promotes the phone's features but also aligns with the interests of the viewers. After all, everyone wants to see what their favourite character is doing nowadays. It is like catching up with a long-lost friend. Full marks to Oppo for showing the way - how branded content-style videos can gratify audiences, sell products and build brand equity.


The evolving landscape of Indian advertising is witnessing a new wave of content that embraces intertextuality in a new way, going beyond using songs from Hindi movies in the soundtrack. Brands like Rungta Steel, Dunzo, Acko, and Oppo are breaking away from conventional storytelling, opting for more engaging and innovative approaches. By incorporating intertextual elements, these brands are not only capturing the audience's attention but also creating a deeper connection by breathing fresh air into the audience’s much-loved characters, making the brand communication more memorable and shareable.

From OPPO’s ‘Wake-up Sid’ video, we can clearly see that a piece of content becomes more engaging and attracts more viewership when we make it like branded content and not a conventional ad. When the makers move away from ad-like thinking, then the product seamlessly weaves into the story and engages the audience without trying to sell too hard.

As the industry continues to evolve, it will be fascinating to see how other brands embrace intertextuality to craft content that resonates with today's diverse and discerning consumer base. However, makers must keep in mind that the intertextual elements of the story should never overshadow the brand and its product.