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MUMBAI : Fantasy sports platform Dream11 has roped in the world’s second most popular TikToker, Khabane (Khaby) Lame, for its IPL 2021 digital campaign, making this possibly the first instance where an international social media content creator has featured in a mainstream Indian advertising campaign.

Lame was paid upwards of 2 crore for this project, which is comparable to what leading Indian stars such as Virat Kohli, Ranveer Singh and the three Khans of Hindi cinema (Shah Rukh, Salman and Aamir), typically charge for brand endorsements, according to two people with knowledge of the transaction.

Lame (pronounced Lah-May) is a 21-year-old Senegalese who lives in Italy and has more than 114.5 million followers on TikTok. The most popular TikToker, Charli D’Amelio, has more than 125 million followers. According to social media analysts, Lame’s largest following on Instagram, about 16% of 47.9 million, comes from India.

Lame began posting short funny videos on TikTok in March 2020, after losing his job in a factory during the pandemic. He has gained global recognition for his simplified take on complicated life hack videos. He doesn’t speak at all and conveys everything through facial expressions and gestures that have become a rage among his followers.

The Dream11 campaign video, created in association with digital agency White Rivers Media, and also featuring Indian creators Viraj Ghelani and Tanish Shah, merges Lame’s signature ‘uncomplicating’ theme with the brand’s campaign slogan Dimaag Lagana Hai To Dream11 Pe Laga Na.

“The collaboration between us (Dream11) and Khaby Lame was seamless. The delivery of our core message was perfect," said Paroma Roy Chowdhury, chief communications and public affairs officer, Dream11 and Dream Sports. Dream11 did not comment on the budget of this campaign.

“If you look at his entire content, it can seamlessly tie in with Dream11’s communication, so the integration doesn’t look forced," says Shrenik Gandhi, co-founder of White Rivers Media.

Besides generating hundreds of thousands of views and likes across Twitter and Instagram, the video was also picked up by several meme pages on social media.

For its last IPL campaign for digital, Dream11 had roped in musician and lockdown viral sensation Yashraj Mukhate (of the Rasode mein kaun tha fame).

“This year, the idea was to go a notch higher and perhaps look at a global influencer who is also an absolute brand fit," said Gandhi.

Top global creators are popular in India, but budget is often the largest constraint in using them for campaigns at home. Brands struggle to justify the cost, said influencer marketing experts.

“If Dream11 did pay 2 crore, it shows how powerful influencer marketing has become," said Lakshmi Balasubramanian, co-founder of Greenroom, an influencer marketing firm.

There will be more such instances now, she added.

Gandhi of White Rivers Media said half-a-dozen among the top 15 consumer brands in India are already showing interest in Lame.

“Hopefully, we will also see Indian creators popular outside the country being roped in for international campaigns," said Balasubramanian.

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