Salman to Sunny: How celebrity apps are now flying off the virtual shelves in India – EscapeX, the New York-based company which has enabled 65 celebrity apps around the world, marked its presence in the country by launching Sunny Leone’s app in December last year
Salman Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Amy Fernandes and Sunny Leone
It was Sonam Kapoor who kicked off the app-mania among Bollywood celebrities in India. The stylista, with diverse interests in beauty, fashion and fitness, coupled with her social media-savviness, was the perfect star to kick off what’s now a trend. Ever since, everyone from Salman Khan to Sunny Leone has one. There’s a long list: Amy Fernandes, Disha Patani, Kajal Aggarwal, Vir Das, Remo D’Souza and Virat Kohli. And the next few months will see many others joining them, including Sooraj Pancholi.
In the US, superstars like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian West all have global followings and their own apps. And going by their growing numbers, so do their Indian counterparts. EscapeX, the New York-based company which has enabled 65 celebrity apps around the world, marked its presence in the country by launching Sunny Leone’s app in December last year.
Says Shamik Talukder, Head, India and South East Asia, “As of this month, we have 20 Indian celebrity apps up.” Talukder adds that they have seen an amazing amount of participation and in-app activity ever since they launched these apps. “Some people spend close to 16-17 hours on the app. We believe that eventually, all artistes will move to this platform. Artistes need to reach out to 100 per cent of their fans all the time. If, by the end of our four months here, we have 20 celebrity apps, it’s proof that celebs understand this is the place they need to be,” he says, adding that they recently launched actress Kajal Aggarwal’s app.
Different aspects, different fans
Just like every celebrity has his or her own personality, a fan downloading their app can get a glimpse into the lives of the person they are following. For instance, on Sonam’s app, you not only find beauty, fashion and fitness, you can also check out her recommended recipes and workouts, while on Salman’s BeingInTouch app, you can check out never-before-seen pictures of the superstar, as well as backstage videos and more.
Sooraj Pancholi’s penchant for fitness has made him develop an app which will enable his fans to check out his healthy regimen. Along with focusing on weight training, core strengthening and flexibility, the app will also have workout videos and fans will be able to check out Sooraj’s body transformation from film to film. “Every week, it’ll have pictures of me and how I morph my body to essay different characters. If I am doing an action film, I’ll have a more muscular bod. There will be one workout video post each week,” he told us.
Talukder believes that while social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram have been great for the celebrities to reach out to their fans, it is the platform that earns revenue and not the artiste. “Since the artiste is doing all the hard work and bringing in the fan base, it’s important that he/she retains a majority share of the revenue that he/she is generating, which is what the app does,” he says. The fans want to have direct communication with the celebrity they admire, which Talukder feels, is missing from other social media platforms.
“So if today I’m a fan of Sunny or Remo, it’s possible for me to go to their app, write to them and actually get a reply. That’s what the fans are looking at. There are exclusive videos, pictures etc. Real engagement is missing in most of the social forums, so the app acts as a direct connect,” he adds.
Sunny, whose app also includes a playlist of all her popular songs as well as her Bollywood videos, believes it has brought her closer to her fans. “It’s helped to have everything I am doing on social media to be under one roof, being able to see people’s responses to things that I am doing in one place right away. I love analysing what people like and more than that, what doesn’t. Yes, absolutely it has brought me closer,” she told us. The actress believes that in today’s time, it is extremely important to have this form of connection with your fans. She adds, “We live in a digital world and today, we can actually build our brands without the help of any company. We have the ability to grow our names as we want it through social media and showcase our passions. I am a product of social media and it’s helped me thrive in entertainment.”
Sonam probably summed it up best when she told us at the launch of her app, “The most amazing thing is that it gives you the ability to connect with people. The world has become much smaller because of that.”