In 2014, a virtually unknown smartphone company managed to create a lot of hype around its phones. As soon as OnePlus launched its first device, consumers willingly boarded the hype train. The phonemaker is soon launching its fourth flagship device, OnePlus 5, and is trying to create a buzz around it.
OnePlus One was a great product for sure. But the phonemaker's mix of crazy and clever marketing strategies went a long way in making it a well known name.
At the centre of the marketing strategy was the invite system. A customer could only purchase the phone when he or she had an invite code. You either had to get the code from a previous buyer or sign up for a wait list or participate in contests held by OnePlus. That way, people kept talking about the phone.
OnePlus One was a good phone and it got a certain amount of love from reviewers. This helped in attracting more buyers. The phonemaker was young and it didn't have the production capability to deliver thousands of phones every day. So, the invite system suited it well at the time.
There were some wacky marketing campaigns that asked people to smash their old phones to get an invite to buy a new phone and asked women to draw the OnePlus logo on their body.
A year later, OnePlus released OnePlus 2 and continued with the invite system. But the device didn't find much favour with customers or critics. In 2016, OnePlus went back to the drawing board. And, it gained plenty of attention by producing a stellar OnePlus 3 and getting rid of the invite system for good. The overall build of the phone, the software, and particularly the dash charging won praise from all quarters.
Towards the end period of 2016, OnePlus threw a surprise in the form of OnePlus 3T which featured minor upgrades in terms of the processor, the front camera, and the battery. Since then, OnePlus has heavily advertised its devices. By roping in Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, it took a major marketing leap.
OnePlus even released an ad with Bachchan and comedian Rohan Joshi, claiming that OnePlus 3T was the best smartphone. As reported by PhoneRadar, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) found the ad misleading as it didn't mention the factors that had been taken into consideration to make the claim. ASCI asked OnePlus to withdraw or modify the ad.
With the launch of OnePlus 5 approaching, OnePlus is again building the buzz around the new device by announcing partnerships and releasing information about it bit by bit. CEO Carl Pei hinted that the new phone will be christened OnePlus 5. Later, the phonemaker said that it was partnering with DxO, the image processing software developer, to improve the phone's camera.
In its recent most tweet, the company solicited opinion on the phone's colour. And, today it announced that OnePlus 5 will be the first phone to be released in India with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor.
The company has even tied up with a whole clutch of celebrities to create a buzz around the phone. The list includes Sushant Singh Rajput, tennis ace Sania Mirza, Michelin star chef Vikas Khanna, fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee, comedian and actor Vir Das, TV host & gadget guru Rajiv Makhni, squash player Dipika Pallikal Karthik and cricketer Dinesh Karthik.
In a video, Rajput talks about the possibility that the phone will have a dual selfie camera. Several other leaks have indicated that OnePlus will opt for a dual camera at the back.
India has been one of the most important markets for OnePlus so it is only natural that the phonemaker is not stinting on ads and marketing campaigns. But, it should be careful not to go overboard.