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Vir Das marketing his show at Edinburgh Fringe Festival is simple yet pure genius

India’s proud offering to stand up comedy and mainstream cinema, Vir Das has off late been strengthening his game by touring the world with his latest comic act- ‘Unbelievable: The Dishonest Indian’. He recently performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland and what he did to market his show is nothing short of genius!India’s proud offering to stand up comedy and mainstream cinema, Vir Das has off late been strengthening his game by touring the world with his latest comic act- ‘Unbelievable: The Dishonest Indian’. He recently performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland and what he did to market his show is nothing short of genius!

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Acclaimed as the largest arts festival in the world the Edinburgh Fringe festival features theatre, comedy, dance, circus, cabaret, children's shows, physical theatre, musicals, opera, music, spoken word, exhibitions and events. Last year it featured 50,459 performances, 3,314 shows, in 313 venues and issued an estimated 2,298,090 tickets. Comedy makes for the largest category of entertainment at the festival since the year 2008, with 34% of all content last year being comedy centric. 

The festival is open access format, which means that anyone can participate. But that also means that individual performers have the added pressure of making sure the audience turns up. At his debut at the Fringe Vir Das literally did the bhangra and handed out free samosas as bait, but the show went belly up anyways. To be fair it was a poorly chosen venue and, lets admit, not the most convincing marketing strategy. But the comic has come a long way since then. This year not only has he landed one of the top four major venues at the festival, The Gilded Balloon, but also adopted a winning guerrilla marketing tactic to promote his show. 

There are various ways to market a brand, but nothing gets one’s attention faster than the promise of hard cash. Vir Das walked around the festival area handing out folded 5-pound bills to people. Now if there’s one universal truth it’s that free money is awfully difficult to refuse. But once the unsuspecting captive audience opened and examined the bill they saw the details of the show imprinted on the back of the fake money. Genius we say!

Distributing flyers is a tried and tested formula for increasing sales. It’s fast, cheap and effective. But for every 10,000 flyers the standard reaction is typically 1% that means 100 people. But add a unique twist in the mix, just like Vir Das did, and the reactions can increase exponentially.

It is also important to remain relevant to your audience; in this case the comic displayed his wit in an impactful and contextual way. And to seal the deal he thumped his chest on social media by communicating with his audience about the ongoing activity leading to further recall.

Vir, we are impressed. After comedy and films here’s another proverbial feather in your bowler’s hat- Strategic Marketing! 

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival concludes today after running for almost a month. For those who wish to see Vir Das live in action he is bringing his act to New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi stadium on 9 October.


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