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Why Amazon Prime Video has signed Bollywood star Varun Dhawan to be its 'Bae' in India

By Amit Bapna |

November 21, 2022 | 6 min read

In a world of celebrities as endorsers and influencers, Prime Video India has unveiled a first-of-its-kind 'Bae' to spread the word about what's on the platform. We hear from Amazon, and its new ambassador, about what the partnership will entail.

Prime Video's Bae launch in India

Prime Video launches its first-ever Bae in India

Leading streaming service Prime Video has launched an innovation in India to build fandom by recruiting its first Bae in the form of Bollywood star Varun Dhawan. Bae or ‘before anyone else’ is an oft-used term among the GenZ and the young audience often used to describe the best friend.

The newly appointed Bae’s mandate, according to Sushant Sreeram, head of SVOD business at Prime Video India, is “to increase fan engagement on an ongoing basis, for the shows between seasons, and keep the conversation going among the fans across ages.”

The Drum gets Prime Video India’s Sushant Sreeram and Varun Dhawan together in an exclusive chat to unravel what went behind the launch of the first-ever Bae and how it fits into the brand's strategy

Behind the launch of Bae, before anyone else

In the last 6 years of its being around in India, Prime Video has been launching its lineup of films and original series across languages. As per Sreeram, “our shows and movies become a part of the cultural zeitgeist and drive pop culture conversations”.

In April this year, Prime Video announced its plans to launch over 40 new titles, in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu, across original series, original movies, licensing deals and co-productions over the next two years.

As the content slate keeps expanding, increasing engagement with the existing and emerging audience is critical, says Sreeram. Thus came the idea of recruiting a celebrity as a close confidante, who would give the platform’s diverse customers a peek into what’s next on Prime Video and build on this unique idea to push the customer engagement playbook.

Going beyond the traditional endorser space with Bae

In a world filled with celebrities as endorsers and influencers, Prime Video hopes to take the celebrity association to unchartered terrain with this association. Shares Sreeram: “Dhawan as the Bae will bring the updated information on the Prime Video content to its viewers on an ongoing basis, helping build and strengthen the connections among the OTT player's fans.

“For us at Prime Video India, unlike a traditional brand ambassador who perhaps would come in just for a while or a specific objective, and then exit, Prime Bae would take the association beyond the usual.”

The choice of Varun Dhawan, was not just because of his standing as an established young Bollywood star, but also his down-to-earth and friendly persona, according to Sreeram.

To create the buzz for the launch, a brand campaign has been launched with four films so far - the first two are about Dhawan’s journey and the origin story of Prime Bae, and the third one sees him christened as Prime Bae.

Brand films

Getting the Bae-view from Varun Dhawan

Talking about his first-ever collaboration as the Prime Bae, an excited Dhawan tells The Drum, “What makes it exciting and different from the usual brand ambassador assignment that I have been doing, is the fact that here, I am being encouraged to bring my personality to this job.”

In India we have already entered influencer-driven marketing as against traditional marketing, he adds, and hopefully, such an innovation could help in taking and building the fandom beyond that of an endorser or an influencer.

It is a constant challenge for any global brand to be relevant to a local market while standing for its global USP. For Prime Video, a global company that pitches itself as a local company with all its efforts and strategies being launched to keep the Indian customers backward, the glocalization works both ways.

At times, shares Sreeram, this includes co-creating and launching concepts like Prime Bae, a global first for Amazon, conceptualized and executed in India. At the same time, many concepts have traversed borders, after succeeding in India.

Examples include the unscripted Amazon Original series 'One Mic Stand' which is being adapted in Germany or Prime Video Mobile Edition, which had its genesis in India, and has been rolled out across multiple countries, adds Sreeram.

At the same time, its popular series 'Modern Love' launched in the United States was recently localised as 'Modern Love Mumbai' and 'Modern Love Hyderabad'.

Concludes Sreeram, now with the launch of this first-of-its-kind association, the team aims to build a tight-knit community of super-fans, helping them experience the inner world of the platform content, on an ongoing basis.

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