Sometimes a film can only be as good as its marketing. A good film might just be ignored by the audience and a bad film can be lapped up by everyone. Take Jurassic World for instance. What made me make the decision to watch the film was their amazing marketing online. From taking you through an immersive journey through the park on their website to a social media presence that did not feel so much like a film but a destination — their Facebook Page was listed under Travel & Leisure — they did a great job in blurring the lines between fantasy and reality. The result was over $200 million in opening weekend sales.
Promote the film through conversations
Social media is the primary vehicle for film marketing these days, but I believe only a few films in India have used the platforms effectively to make a mark. In India we have two kinds of films. The first is the ‘leave your brains at home’ kind and the second is the more intellectual type. In the first kind, a trailer release and a huge media push is the pattern that is followed usually, which works as these films are star driven. But the second kind needs to take a smarter route. Due to leaner budgets, most films spend about 8% of their total marketing spend on digital with little or no star appeal. The only way to get the audience is to connect with them through content and conversations.
Take the promotion of Talvar as an example. Any film based on real life incidents, which takes a neutral stand is a tough one to market. It’s even more difficult when most people have forgotten the subject/story. So, the task was to refresh memory and get the audience interested enough to watch the film. This was done by getting bloggers to write about it. Their blogs had a multiplier effect reaching an audience one would not necessarily get from the release of just a trailer. Chatter on the film became greater post the release which resulted in the six-week run of the film in theatres (extremely rare for a film of that genre).
Increase digital marketing budget
Having said this, Indian films have not scratched the surface in unlocking the true potential of digital in their marketing plan. That 8% of your marketing budget being spent on digital in a month before release will not be enough. It is imperative for a film to keep the fan interested over a period of time with regular doses of content that will keep them asking for more. The fan needs to be made part of the journey of the film.
Unlike major Hollywood films, Indian films cannot start their marketing a year in advance. However, a three to six month promotion plan is a must. With the film audience now being connected digitally — both mobile and online — the digital marketing budget too needs to be a respectable one — at least 15% of the marketing budget. Content marketing can also enable buzz around the film in a cost effective way.
The formula of digital marketing for films has not changed since the time it started and I believe it is about time we change the same. Let’s hope that new film marketing techniques like that of Talvar can give it that much needed push for change and innovation in this space.
By Carlton D’silva
The author is CCO, Hungama Digital Services