Marketing Bollywood

Written by Sudipta Datta | Updated: Aug 7 2011, 07:25am hrs
To promote Zoya Akhtars second film, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, the cast including Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar, Abhay Deol and Katrina Kaif undertook a roadtrip from Mumbai to Delhi. For Ajay Devgans Singham, director Rohit Shetty sold tickets at a multiplex; niche thriller Shaitan spread the word about the film at BPOs. With the opening weekend crucial for films, producers and distributors are doing everything and more to create an urgency around the film.

Ritesh Sidhwani, producer, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, says that with so many films releasing together its imperative to make people want to go to the theatres to see the film. Producers are also using digital formats, cricket stadium (SRKs first look of Ra.One was launched during the World Cup), malls and multiplexes to promote films.

Though below-the-line activities are still a niche category for films, brand activation agencies are slowing gaining ground in the industry. Pritie Jadhav, COO, P9 Integrated, recalls an interesting concept it worked on Madhur Bhandarkars Jail starring Niel Nitin Mukesh. We created jail replicas in multiplexes around the country where patrons got a chance to click pictures in the get-up and thus promoted the film in return, she adds.

Ask her whether films are depending on on-ground promotions a lot, and she says, Below the line promotion in the entertainment industry is still in its infancy, and this medium is currently used only by small producers with limited budgets. But industry sources pointed out that off late even big banner production houses and producers have been using this medium to create a buzz around a films release.

On-ground promotions have been used in a big way by Aamir Khan, who promoted and marketed Ghajini with several activities, including a Ghajini-style haircut of multiplex ushers. He followed it up in 3 Idiots when he travelled all over the country in disguise urging his fans to unravel the mystery. For 3 Idiots, there were other on-ground promotions as well.

There is scope as large production houses are warming up to the idea of BTL promotions, says Jadhav. Producers and brand agencies agree that promoting a film other than through banners, TV and radio ads, interviews, etc are easier said than done. Interesting executable ideas is what works and only this will have an impact that will give results, points out Jadhav. She says that segmentation of the target audience is very critical for the success of a campaign. Choices of activity, duration, location et al are other factors that determine the success of a BTL activity, she adds.

Agrees Atul Nath, MD, Candid Marketing, which has been helping the TV and film industries to look at mediums beyond traditional PR and marketing by using below the line activations. The activities we saw around Ghajini or Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi stood out because of its marketing tactics. They spoke to the right audience and helped to drive people to the films, he points out.

Nath says that film producers and TV channels are beginning to realise that their productsa film or a serial or a reality showare like any other brands (FMCG, telecom) and need to promoted. Films for instance are a highly perishable product and can be made or broken in the first week of release. A very good film will die if it doesnt do well in the first weekend, so its important to promote it right, he adds.

The industry is already worried that films are spending way too much on promotion and publicity, and that besides actor fees, this is one area that needs to be tempered. Jadhav says she has seen a sudden upward surge in the last few years in spends by producers in promotion as the entertainment industry believes that the more it promotes a product the better will be the results. But higher spends alone should not be the criteria as different and path-breaking ideas can also make a lot of impact, she points out.

Films are also beginning their promotions early. For instance, for Ra.One, which will release this October, promotions began six months ago. Excel Entertainment has already launched a teaser promo for Don 2, which releases this December. We havent yet decided how we will promote Don 2, says Sidhwani, but industry sources say a huge campaign, on-ground, below-the-line will be launched in the run-up to the release.

Activation events may be expensive but they are very useful to a film, says Nath. In the TV space, the general entertainment channels are also taking activation very seriously. GECs are very active when a new programme is launched and they aggressively promote the show in local trains, malls, roadshows and so forth, says Nath.

Sidhwani says the roadtrip from Mumbai to Delhi helped promote Zindagi. When we were crossing cities like Surat and Baroda, we realised that people were identifying with the three characters of the film, Arjun, Imran and Kabir played by Hrithik, Farhan Akhtar and Abhay Deol. They were not stars, but people like them.