Yesterday, Xiaomi Vice President Hugo Barra posted a strange video to his Facebook. Barra is in his gym clothes and is trying to plank – or horizontally suspend his body using only his forearms – for as long as possible. He’s timing his efforts with a Xiaomi Redmi 3S phone, which is launching tomorrow.
An unconventional marketing technique, yes, but the Indian phone market is terribly competitive, and if Xiaomi wants its executives to literally sweat it out to get some sales, good luck to them. But it didn’t stop there – Barra tagged Inmobi founder Naveen Tewari and Hungama founder Neeraj Roy, challenging them to beat his time.
Now this idea isn’t unique. It was a forwarding challenge that made the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge such a global phenomenon. But such forwarding challenges are usually to support charities, or for a cause – the Ice Bucket Challenge, for instance, was to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Barra’s challenge is clearly is meant to promote his new phone.
And the Inmobi CEO complied. Hours after the challenge, Tewari had a video up on his Facebook, looking dapper and fit as he smashed Barra’s time without breaking a sweat (or changing into his gym clothes). As with Barra’s video, a Redmi 3S phone dutifully kept the time.
It’s possible that Hugo Barra and Naveen Tewari are just buds who’re just having a laugh, but chances are it’s a marketing stunt. Both used the same hashtag #PowerAtLast while sharing the video, which is also the official tagline for the phone. Tewari’s video was also shared by the head of marketing at Mi.
Now Naveen Tewari is the CEO of one of India’s most successful startups, and doesn’t really need to moonlight as a brand ambassador. Then what explains the video? Is something brewing between InMobi and Xiaomi? That seems more likely. InMobi has a significant presence in China, and Xiaomi is one of China’s most successful mobile brands. Is this video a part of a larger collaboration between the two companies?
We guess time will tell. All we know for sure is that we wouldn’t want to take on Naveen Tewari in a planking competition – the man’s a natural.