Quantum Brief

Zupee hires Salman Khan as brand ambassador to go deeper into Real Money Gaming

Chief marketing officer Gaurav Mehta discusses collaboration and growth in the RMG industry in an exclusive interview with Storyboard18.

By  Tasmayee Laha RoyFeb 17, 2023 5:14 PM
Zupee hires Salman Khan as brand ambassador to go deeper into Real Money Gaming
When an audience member sees a brand ambassador whose values align with those of the game, they are more likely to give it a try. Salman's value sets and popularity will encourage more people to try out these games, especially when they realize that they offer the same values.

After Hindi movie stars Shah Rukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan and Shahid Kapoor, it’s the turn of Salman Khan to jump on to the gaming and E-sports bandwagon. Real Money Gaming (RMG) platform Zupee has hired Salman Khan as its brand ambassador, hoping to reach every RMG player that is not already on board.

In a conversation with Storyboard18, Zupee’s Chief Marketing Officer Gaurav Mehta talks about the collaboration with Khan, the marketing strategy behind taking him on as brand ambassador, growing popularity of RMG, and how the company is promoting the concept of meaningful entertainment through games of skill in just eight to ten minutes. Edited excerpts:

As a relatively new brand, you have managed to gain a significant market share in the casual and board game segment. Tell us a little about your three-and-a-half year journey that has got you in a position to onboard a Bollywood A-lister as your brand ambassador.

In the real money gaming space, the two primary segments were fantasy and card games. However, when we started, we innovated in the casual and board games space, including games like Ludo and Snakes and Ladders. These are games that people grow up playing and require strategy and skill, which is where we saw an opportunity to enter this sector in a significant way. We got this particular sector to the RMG space in a sizable manner and in the past three years, we have become the largest player in this particular segment. Our success is due to the fact that these games are culturally accepted and provide both entertainment and skill-building opportunities. Additionally, the format works well because these games are short, typically lasting between eight and ten minutes, which makes them ideal for quick breaks throughout the day. This is why we have found a strong product market segment and have become a leader in the RMG space.

We are now ready for the next bout of growth that we hope will come with our new marketing strategies that include onboarding a popular face as our brand ambassador.

Why Salman Khan?

Our choice of Salman Khan as our brand ambassador for this campaign stems from the fact that the games we offer are played by people across the country, and who better than him can help spread our message nationwide?. With his massive fan following, we saw a lot of synergies and he was just as excited as we were about this opportunity.

I believe the key factor in selecting a brand ambassador is their relevance to our target market. In our case, Salman Khan and our audience, as well as the type of games we offer, are a perfect match.

When an audience member sees a brand ambassador whose values align with those of the game, they are more likely to give it a try. I think Salman's value sets and popularity will encourage more people to try out these games, especially when they realize that they offer the same values. We are excited to see how this partnership will help us grow and expand the reach of our games.

At the same time, we are very optimistic about our partnership with him because we believe he will help elevate the profile of fantasy and board games, which have been around for over a decade and have established a solid following.

Our company has focused on the casual and board game subcategory of the RMG industry and this collaboration with Salman Khan will enable us to reach a wider audience.

Tell us more about the campaign. Who helped you put it together? And will it be more of a digital campaign or would we see offline initiatives too?

The '10 Minute Mein Game Ho Jayega' campaign is a comprehensive 360-degree multimedia initiative that will include a TV commercial as well as outdoor advertising. Digital channels have always been a strong focus for us, and this campaign too will have a significant digital presence.

Until now, our focus has primarily been on performance marketing in the digital space. Our main objective has been to advertise and encourage people to download our app, as well as educate them about it. We have experimented with television advertising in the past, but not in a consistent manner.

Our results from these past efforts have given us the confidence to pursue our current campaign.

From a historical standpoint, we have primarily focused on performance marketing and building a digital presence. However, we hope to expand our efforts to include more offline marketing as well.

Our creative partner is Leo Burnett's Delhi office and media partner is Havas Media.

So will your focus shift to offline now or will digital still take the lead?

While we will take up more of offline initiatives, digital remains the hero. Digital brand building works very well for us. Not just from a short term ROI (Return On Investment) perspective or even from a medium, medium to long term ROI perspective. And that's something that we have seen being proven to us over the past 19 to 20 months, so investing in such mediums will continue.

Having said that, certain genres on TV have also worked extremely well for us. Genres like movies and music. So our investments will continue to happen on the basis of all this media mix modeling and econometric studies that we keep on doing.

Coming back to the campaign, what is it that you are trying to achieve with it?

If we consider the total number of gamers in the country, not just limited to real money gaming, it's estimated to be around 400 million. However, the audience for real money gaming is slightly lower, as certain states have restrictions on these games, and they are only allowed for people above 18 years of age. Various sectoral reports estimate the size to be around 130 million to 140 million people. Out of this gaming audience, our app has been downloaded by almost 70 million people since our inception.

Our immediate goal is to target the existing RMG audience of 140 to 150 million people and expand the category under the regulations and laws of the country, as one of the bigger players in the RMG sector. Our aim here is to reach the current market size and expand it further by offering innovative and engaging games to our users.

With a growing user base, what is your observation when it comes to changing consumer profiles?

One significant insight that I would like to share is that, due to the nature of our games, we have observed that the faster growth in our user base is coming from Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns rather than bigger cities like Delhi and other metros. This trend has been evident in the past 18 months, and we believe that the gaming industry is now expanding to even smaller towns across the country. This shift in the gaming audience's behavior and demographics is an important trend that we are closely monitoring and adapting to in our marketing and expansion strategies.

First Published on Feb 17, 2023 1:38 PM