Carl Pei Turns to “Carl Bhai” to Hype the Nothing Phone (2a) in India

In Short
  • Nothing CEO Carl Pei changed his username to Carl Bhai after a fun exchange with an Indian user on X (formerly Twitter).
  • This exchange gained a lot of attention from the Indian tech fraternity ahead of the launch of the Nothing Phone (2a).
  • The official Nothing India account even started a giveaway to let users who add Bhai to their name win a Phone (2a).

Bhai has taken over the Indian tech space on X (formerly Twitter), and no, we are not talking about Sallu Bhai. Indian techies are adding “Bhai” to their names on X, and we have Nothing CEO Carl Pei to thank for it. What probably started as a friendly reply to a fan quickly turned into one of the most unexpected and quirky trends ahead of the Nothing Phone 2a launch.

If you are seeing too many Bhai’s on your X feed and wish to catch up on this trend, fret not as I am here bro. Bhai hun main tera (I’m your brother), let me help you out. So, I’ve explained everything there is to know about this viral trend and how it is creating hype for Nothing Phone (2a) in India.

The Journey from Carl Pei to Carl Bhai

The whole thing started over the weekend when Nothing India shared a post on X that showed us a glimpse of the “fresh eyes” of Bollywood superstar Ranveer Singh. Now, brand partnerships are not new in the tech world. Shahrukh Khan endorses Realme, Janhvi Kapoor for Oppo, and more.

Ranveer, as per the teaser, is expected to serve as Nothing’s brand ambassador in India. The X post alone grabbed a lot of attention. However, there was one user who wanted to understand why Carl Pei’s newfound startup was onboarding a brand ambassador so early in its lifecycle.

Getting lost in Ranveer’s pretty brown eyes, X user Raman Singh replied to the post asking, “Why is a brand ambassador needed?” Carl Pei quoted this post and innocently replied with, “We want to sell more phones bhai.”

As you see, it was the addition of the word “bhai” that struck a chord with the Indian audience as the word means brother or bro in Hindi and holds a deep meaning of respect for us. This led to the post gaining a lot of attention and the memes came pouring in. Yeah, the “bhai bhai” memes. That’s not all, though, as Carl Bhai started trending in India on X that evening.

Soon after the interaction, someone suggested Carl Pei add Bhai to his X name. And lo and behold, Carl’s X profile name changed to Carl Bhai in a matter of minutes. *Eureka* This was probably the moment the marketing maestros at Nothing realized Carl accidentally (or intentionally) had set an outstanding plan in motion.

Carl’s bhaigiri influenced Akis Evangelidis, the co-founder of Nothing, prompting him to change his X name to Akis Bhai, and the same with Nothing India changing to Nothing India Bhai, adding more fuel to the fire and starting a domino effect as users started voluntarily adding Bhai to their X names. The Indian tech fraternity on X (Twitter) had joined the “bhai” movement for Nothing (pun intended).

But, it wasn’t for nothing after all, as the official Nothing India X account announced a giveaway for their upcoming budget-centric Phone (2a) for those who had “Bhai” in their Twitter name. The rest is history as people started changing their X names for a chance to secure a Nothing Phone while a few others, like YouTube creator SuperSaf and Perplexity AI CEO Aravind Srinivas, joined in on the fun.

Cheesy Marketing or Excellent Strategy?

Carl Pei’s later interactions did manage to keep the bhaigiri and the memes associated with it going on the platform. But if you have to ask my two cents on the topic, I would say that I found it to be a bit cheesy. Some would say that it was an excellently executed marketing ploy.

However, seeing Carl’s other interactions and how active he is on social media, I don’t believe it was actually a planned campaign. Given the overwhelmingly positive response, the Nothing team started milking it by passing around the paddle, announcing the giveaway, and then scrolling through X as tech “bhais” helped them drum up hype for the Nothing Phone (2a).

Seeing as how India is a price-sensitive yet one of the largest smartphone markets, Nothing wants to focus its efforts on creating hype for Phone 2a, which is launching on March 5 in the region. I don’t blame them for jumping on the opportunity as it not only rallied their fans and community but also started a conversation about their phone among other users.

When Pei held the reigns at OnePlus, he didn’t shy away from using unorthodox methods to market its device in its initial period; even using similar tactics to make the Nord series a huge success. So I would say, intentional or not, the bhaigiri did turn out in their favor.

Will Nothing Phone 2a Live Up to the Hype?

The Nothing Phone 2a is set to feature some quality specifications like a 120Hz Full HD+ display, a 50 MP main and 50 MP ultrawide camera, the clean NothingOS 2.5 experience, which my colleague Abubakar loved, and as confirmed recently, the powerful Dimensity 7200 Pro chipset.

Moreover, the device will also feature the signature Glyph interface, albeit in a different and toned form than what we have seen previously. Courtesy of Onleaks, renders for the Nothing Phone (2a) were shared online recently, and I like what I see here.

Nothing Phone 2a leaked render image
Image Courtesy: @Onleaks x @Smartprix

Moreover, as per recent reports, the launch price of the Nothing Phone (2a) is rumored to be Rs 23,999, which is a lucrative price tag for all that you get bundled in the device.

This puts Nothing straight in competition with other budget champs like the iQOO Z7, Redmi Note 13 Pro, Realme 12 Pro, and more. Furthermore, given the success that the OnePlus Nord series, also launched by Pei, has witnessed in the Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 30,000 price segment in the region, I would hope that this new Nothing (a) series also does well in India.

Although I am not a part of Nothing’s “Bhai” brigade, I am excited about the launch of the Nothing Phone 2a. It has been a while since we have seen so much excitement for the release of a mid-range device since the OnePlus Nord. This could prove to be the company’s home run if they played their right cards, and by that I mean, they get the pricing right.

Redmi and Realme have already butchered their number series by elevating its price from the sub-Rs. 20,000 segment to the sub-Rs 30,000 segment. Nothing could comfortably insert itself into the sub-Rs 25,000 price category in India and emerge as the victor.

In the meantime, if you want to learn what else is new in the upcoming Nothing Phone (2a), read our dedicated article. What are your thoughts about this “Bhai” trend on X? Are you also looking forward to the release of Phone 2a? Let us know in the comments below.

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