What's triggering brands' growing fad for collaborating with short-lived fame creators?

Brands, both in the past and more recently, have collaborated with various viral content creators such as Yippee featuring Jasmeen Kaur, Urbanyog with Mithlesh Bhati, Perk with Vipin Shau - the paragliding man, DSP Mutual Fund with Sanjeev Shrivastava, widely recognised as the 'dancing uncle,' and several others

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‘Just looking like a wow…’, who doesn't recognise the face behind this catchphrase? Instagram recently buzzed with the contagious charm of Delhi entrepreneur Jasmeen Kaur and her viral catchphrase. The trend extends to characters like Puneet Superstar, Mithlesh Bhati, famous for her 'Lappu sa Sachin' dialogue, the 'dancing uncle,' Sanjeev Shrivastava, a Bhopal professor captivating netizens with his moves, and many such creators.

Social media is increasingly witnessing a surge in the popularity of short-lived fame content creators. Such creators not only experience viral success on social media but brands are also seizing the opportunity to collaborate with them. However, the fleeting nature of this fame is evident, as such creators quickly fade from platforms when the audience and brands shift their attention to new and amusing content.

What’s behind the sudden fame?

Nisha Sampath

Nisha Sampath, Brand Consultant and Founder, Bright Angles Consulting, emphasised that content creators are often well connected to consumer’s pulse and can engage with them in genuine, humorous and spontaneous ways that brands cannot.

“Humour, authenticity and no fear of ridicule or looking stupid leads content creators to experiment and strike gold when it comes to grabbing audience attention,” she added.

Samit Sinha

Samit Sinha, Founder and Managing Partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting, said, “I wish I could say that the reason behind their sudden fame is talent, but that does not seem to be the case. Their style of content resonates with a large emerging section of the Indian population that hitherto lived in the shadow of a narrative controlled by the urban, educated, upper-class, sophisticated, English-speaking elite. The internet and the ubiquity of the smartphone have shifted that balance and fostered the rise of the home-grown, rustic and vernacular voice of the new emerging India, which creators like Jasmine and Puneet Superstar appear to represent.”

Ramanujam Sridhar

Ramanujam Sridhar, Founder and CEO, Brand-Comm PR believes that a sales promotion or a timely event, like a Diwali campaign, provides an opportunity for immediate action from the brands’ side when it comes to associating with short-lived fame creators.

“However, it's crucial to note that such endeavours cannot replace brands’ long-term brand strategy and communication. Ideally, any short-term initiative should align with the brands’ overall message. Leveraging a celebrity in these instances can enhance engagement, but it's essential to ensure their involvement aligns with the brand identity. Viewing it as a promotional tool, similar to a "buy one, get one free" offer, allows for creativity while maintaining consistency with the brand's long-term goals,” he added.

Nisman Parpia

Meanwhile, Nisman Parpia, Digital Content Creator, said that it is the way of these content creators’ dialogue delivery and enigmatic catchy presence that has lured the audience to their page. The memes made on them were never ending and they resonated to everyone irrespective of their age group which became a part of our lives.

“Once we start saying “just looking like a wow..” we can’t go back to normal and the same has been with every other meme-worthy trend that goes viral on social media,” she said.

Shrishti Jagirdar

On the other hand, Shrishti Jagirdar, Vice President - Brand Solutions - Schbang, highlighted that viral sensations like Jasmine and Puneet Superstar tapped into the pulse of their audience by delivering content that was either effortlessly relatable or delightfully unconventional.

“Jasmine's 'Just Looking Like a Wow' dialogue resonated for its simplicity and adaptability, while Puneet's weird comic videos offered a refreshing departure from the norm. Their sudden fame reflects the power of connecting with audiences through either relatability or uniqueness in the ever-evolving landscape of content creation,” she added.

Kunal Khandelwal

Echoing similar sentiment, Kunal Khandelwal, Group Head- Outreach, SoCheers said that such content creators gained sudden fame due to the unique and relatable elements in their content. The originality of their dialogues, the humour and their different way of talking and interacting with the audience can capture attention quickly. It’s always the content that strikes a chord with viewers, whether through humour, authenticity, or a distinctive catchphrase that we see goes viral.

Devarshi Shah

Similarly, Devarshi Shah, SVP Influencer marketing division at OML Entertainment pointed out that people on the internet are looking for entertainment, in the sea of sameness and similar gags on similar insights, so when once in a rare occurrence a different thinking, a new, absolutely original idea, a person who is uncustomary appears, likely chances are that they will be noticed and revered.

“In my opinion, creators such as Puneet and Jasmine are only a reflection of what audiences enjoy (even if it is for a short space),” he added.

Anushree Jain

Anushree Jain, Co-founder, SocialTAG said that creators like Jasmine and Puneet Superstar struck a chord with audiences due to their relatability and unfiltered authenticity. Their content stands out for being genuine, relatable and offering a slice of everyday life, resonating strongly with diverse audiences.

Divya Fofani

Divya Fofani, Digital Content Creator, explained that there is no specific reason for the fame of such content creators, any quality would be their unique personality and style. The masses just resonate with it and they go viral overnight. Moreover, people are liking more and more random things so there's no particular explanation to it. These are just wild and crazy videos which you don't have to think a lot about while consuming and it sticks in your brain.

Muskan Ranka

Muskan Ranka, Digital Content Creator highlighted that anything that picks up on the internet vastly becomes a meme trend.

"There’s this thing about accidental/sudden fame. In my opinion, it can be because of their unique catchphrases or quirkiness that resonates the most with the audiences and leads to their viral success," she added.

Is it good for brands to team up with short-lived fame creators?

According to Sinha, some brands see the sudden rise in the popularity of such content creators as a ready-made opportunity to leverage for quick salience. These brands tend to be opportunistic and are usually on the lookout for whatever is trending, regardless of whether there is any genuine fit between the brand and such content or their creators.

“While these opportunities have some limited potential to generate instant brand awareness, the flip-side of this kind of indiscriminate and short-term action is the risk of damage to the brand’s image,” he added.

On the other hand, Sampath pointed out that while the fame may be short-lived, it does bring in followers and fans to the creators network. It’s a bit like a bootstrapped startup suddenly getting an influx of funds. The content creator may get inspired, move to the next level and not only retain but also grow their follower base.

“Brands associate with such creators hoping to ride the wave. The space of celebrity endorsements is increasingly becoming more cluttered. In contrast, content creators can bring authenticity and a fresh appeal hence brands have an affinity to sign them up,” she added.

Similarly, Jagirdar explained that despite the ephemeral nature of viral fame, brands often seek collaborations with creators like Jasmine and Puneet Superstar due to their immediate reach and engagement potential. However, the association carries both advantages and risks.

“Brands benefit from quick exposure to a wide audience but face the risk of the creator's fleeting popularity, necessitating a strategy to leverage the surge effectively while considering the potential short-term impact on brand perception if the creator's fame diminishes rapidly,” she added.

Jain said that even if the association is temporary, engaging with short-lived fame content creators can benefit brands. It allows brands to tap into current trends, reaching a diverse audience swiftly. While the fame might be fleeting, the impact on brand visibility and engagement can be considerable. It's about capitalising on the moment, understanding the pulse of the audience, and adapting marketing strategies to stay relevant in a rapidly evolving digital landscape

Shah explained, “Think of the internet as a content jungle where all the brands are trying to make their mark. It's like tossing a drop into the ocean, hoping someone notices. Without shelling out for ads or teaming up with influencers, it's tough for a brand to get noticed in the vast sea of posts. Social media is a real-time game—it's all about catching the wave of trending topics and staying relevant. Brands need to be quick on their feet. So, collaborating with creators who had a moment in the limelight gives them a shortcut to that relevancy.”

A contrarian to the above is that brands can not sustain with only activations of such kinds, they must invest in good creative and long-term creator collaboration to ensure their narrative and ethos is delivered. Short-lived success creators can only be used for top-of-mind marketing and not brand building, he added.

Khandelwal pointed out that collaboration with these creators can rapidly generate substantial attention and engagement for the brand. It facilitates quick brand visibility because of the content being trending and also helps with potential reach to a broad audience.

“However, the risks involve the short-lived nature of the fame, as these creators might lose relevance rapidly. It may lead to challenges for brands associating with them such as sustaining long-term brand recall. The brand may need to carefully consider the timing and context of collaborations to avoid being negatively impacted by the creator's short-lived popularity,” he added.

Parpia said, “If I was a brand, I would also collaborate with short-fame creators but the only question I would ask myself is how long will this work in my favour? The short-lived fame creators become a viral sensation overnight and collaborating with them during their peak will be beneficial for the brand. This is simply because whatever content that particular creator will create, will be liked and shared by many and might have a crazy reach but the real question is for how long will they stay relevant and can they be trusted with long-time collaborations? That’s something we should reckon about.”

Ranka highlighted that brands associate with short-lived fame creators for quick visibility. Not that this is going to provide any ROI to the brand, but it’s still good for topical content and trend association.

“Advantages of this collaboration could be a rapid reach but then it might also evoke backlash to the brand if the content’s popularity just fades away or when brands involve too much into the rapid reach which doesn’t align with the genre for their content piece,” she added.

Brand deals with celebrities/professional content creators vs short-lived fame creators

According to Sampath, the advantage of the brand is some short-term fame. The risk is that, unlike a celebrity who carefully curates their image, content creators may be less professional, may suddenly change their online persona or do something that antagonises followers.

“Hence brands need to tread carefully and evaluate who are the best creators who are a fit with their brand and values. They can also make it a two-way interaction, by empowering the creator with ideas and tools to create better content,” she added.

Similarly, Sinha said that riding on the coattails of short-lived fame can provide immediate visibility for a brand, but it does not usually sustain, and even if it does, the association is not necessarily favourable to the brand.

Jain explained that both approaches have distinct impacts on brand visibility. Celebrity associations offer a polished and established image, while short-lived fame creators bring a sense of spontaneity and relatability.

“The former may appeal to a specific audience seeking glamour, while the latter resonates with a broader demographic looking for authenticity. Both approaches can enhance visibility, but the key lies in aligning the brand's values with the chosen creator's persona,” she added.

Jagirdar emphasised that collaborations with established celebrities or professional content creators often offer brands a stable and influential presence, leveraging their enduring popularity for consistent visibility among the target audience.

“Conversely, partnerships with short-lived fame creators provide brands with rapid but potentially fleeting exposure, necessitating agility and a well-crafted strategy to maximise impact within a condensed time frame among specific audience segments,” she added.

Fofani said that each brand has its different goals and each campaign is different. We are living in a harsh time of "relevancy". Today you are a viral superstar, tomorrow you are nothing! Each brand has its own messaging and goal - some campaigns are done for sales and some purely for awareness. Concerning awareness, collaborating with the viral stars would be more impactful because more people would talk about the unique collaboration. However, at the same time, professional and seasoned creators/celebrities have a loyal and authentic audience with a flair for content which would help in sales.

According to Shah, whether it's teaming up with big-shot celebrities, seasoned creators, or those who had a flash of fame, it's all about getting the word out there. But here's the deal-breaker – it's not just about who's spreading the message, it's about what they're saying.

“So, you bring on a celeb, and you get this instant spotlight. It's like flipping a switch, and suddenly, everyone's looking. They grab attention, but can they keep it? Then, you've got the pros, the creators who've been doing their thing. It's not about the big spotlight here, it's about building a connection over time. Think of it as more of a slow burn,” Shah said.

“Lastly, we have the short-lived fame crew. Quick, attention-grabbing moments – like catching a trend's tailwind. But the real puzzle is keeping that attention once the buzz dies down. No matter who you're in cahoots with, the real MVP is the content. It's not just about being seen, it's about being remembered. Whether you go big with celebs, steady with the pros, or ride the wave of the moment, it's all about finding that sweet spot that sticks with the audience and aligns with the long-term game plan,” he added.

Khandelwal emphasised that brand collaborations with celebrities or professional content creators often provide more stable visibility to their target audience for a longer time, as these creators bring a loyal following and credibility, contributing to a more sustained brand presence.

“On the other hand, collaborations with creators of short-lived fame may offer a quick, intense burst of attention, but they might not last as long or be as consistent as working with well-known personalities. The choice between the two depends on the brand's goals, considering whether they seek immediate buzz or a more enduring connection with their audience,” he added.

Parpia believes that long-term influencers have spent a lot of time building a fan base and loyalty with their audience. There is a different kind of understanding and compatibility between them. At the same time, the short-lived creators might not be able to build a loyal audience base and their branded collaborations might be perceived for monetary reasons.

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