#BabaKaDhaba, a perfect influencer marketing case study?

An Instagram post turned Baba Ka Dhaba, a hole-in-the-wall eatery in Delhi, into a viral sensation

NEW DELHI: It started, as many viral sensations these days do, with an Instagram post. Only this time, it wasn’t a celebrity’s staged photo-op or a kitten or puppy’s cute antics, but an octogenarian couple struggling to make ends meet.

Food blogger and Instagram influencer, Gaurav Wasan (@youtubeswadofficial) is usually on the lookout for lesser-known eateries around the Delhi.  Earlier this week, he happened to stumble upon Baba Ka Dhaba, run by an elderly couple. The owner, Kanta Prasad, said the pandemic had shattered his small business and there were hardly any customers visiting the food joint even after the unlock phase.



Inhe hamari help ko bahut zarurat he #share #foodvideo #viralvideo #old #oldcouple

A post shared by Gaurav Wasan (@youtubeswadofficial) on

Their despair came to light when Gaurav captured the visuals of the old man breaking down in tears as he related how, even after working for the entire day, he can hardly scrape together Rs 60. Gaurav shared the video on his Instagram page and asked his followers to support the elderly couple, and others in the same predicament, in every possible way.

Within hours, the video went viral – garnering around a million views the same day. People started extending helping hands to support the tiny business. But the real magic happened when Vasundhara Tankha Sharma posted the same video on Twitter and urged netizens to #supportlocal. Sharma’s tweet racked up thousands of retweets, comments, and likes and #BabaKaDhaba started trending. This led other influencers, YouTubers, media houses and content creators to visit the food joint and spread the word. The story got amplified, and long queues were witnessed at the small shop.

Experts feel that the hype built around Baba Ka Dhaba will ultimately fizzle out but it has shown the positive impact and true potential of social media.

Mad Influence founder and CEO Gautam Madhavan was of the view that the number of people standing outside the dhaba will go down, but his business definitely improved and picked up pace compared to before. In short, he will earn and live better than yesterday.

People started searching for #BabakaDhaba and there was a massive interest in the audiences around the subject. The interest levels went from zero-to-hundred in no time.

Filter Coffee Co. creative head Rahim Musani said that the video received one of the most organic reactions and struck a chord with the audience, which showed us all the power of social media and over-night virality.

The video made its way into celebrity circle, with actors like Sonam Kapoor, Raveena Tandon, Randeep Hooda, Swara Bhasker, Nimrat Kaur, cricketer R Ashwin, and many others stepping up to offer financial help. AAP MLA Somnath Bharti met the elderly couple and assured them of support.

Many brands too joined the cause. 

Food delivery app Zomato listed Baba Ka Dhaba on its app. The brand’s team is working with Kanta Prasad and his wife to enable food deliveries.

PepsiCo also gifted the old couple a beverage cooler with free stocks of its line of drinks. In fact, the company saw this as an opportunity and revamped the dhaba with Pepsi branding.

Dating app Tinder said in one of its tweets: “We recommend Baba Ka Dhabha for your next date.”

The National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) has pledged to improve the infrastructure of Baba Ka Dhaba and make it Covid2019 compliant.

As of now, the food outlet and the elderly couple have been sponsored by a beverage, phone, e-wallet, online food, and brands from other categories. They have completely revamped the look and feel of the outlet.

Although it was very clear that brands simply aimed to hop on the popular trend as it generated great earned media for them at an extremely low cost. The news about their associations was promoted in the news outlets -online and offline, and social media pictures.

In professional circles, however, the overarching impression seemed to be that the lifespan of an overnight internet sensation like Baba Ka Dhaba is limited and the buzz around them will be quite short-lived – unless they find a way to make the most of all the exposure both personally and professionally.

According to Whistling Woods International chief technology officer and vice-president Chaitanya Chinchlikar, the Baba Ka Dhaba video isn’t an ideal example of influencer marketing. “It’s an example of the innate strength of social media platforms and the ability of the right content at the right time to capture the attention of millions and spread globally, practically overnight.”

Monk Media Network creative director Adrine D'mello also doesn't consider it a classic case study, but an instance in which netizens collectively showed that the power of social media is immense. “A video that was recorded to just try and get the elderly couple some exposure through the network of friends and family just got bigger and bigger, with celebrities eventually joining in to support the cause,” he said.

The viral video has also prompted several social media influencers and content creators to look for other such food joints who may need support from the people. One such food joint that emerged during the weekend was from Agra.  

On the other hand, Wasan, the Instagram influencer has garnered around 30 million views on the video at the time of filing this story. He’s also registered a massive uptick in follower count – from 26k followers a few days ago to 180k followers now.

The organic reach which Wasan got in real-time is astonishing. This particular case study shows the power of the influencer community, what can be achieved if it’s leveraged properly.

“The hype around it will settle down in a few days. However, the video and the name will stay with people. Baba Ka Dhaba has become a landmark and will be remembered like that,” D’mello concluded.

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