Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bollywood Marketing

Amit Kaundinya | XIM B



One of the largest money churners in India is Bollywood: the business of making movies. Marketing for Bollywood once meant putting up Eastman Color posters across the streets of Mumbai, but since then it has evolved dramatically. Bollywood producers and filmmakers have realised that their movies are products that need to be branded, positioned and targeted at the right audience. The recent Salman Khan starrer, Dabangg that was made on a budget of 30 cr. had a marketing budget of 12 cr. That is a whopping 40% of the movie budget. The high marketing budgets are not just the norm for big budget films; Peepli Live a film made on a budget of Rs. 10 cr. had a marketing budget of Rs. 4 cr.
While Bollywood scripts have far from evolved, with the same stale movies being churned out day in and out, the way Bollywood is marketing its movies, would make Kotler proud!

The 5 P’s of Bollywood Marketing

• Product: The entire cinema experience is the product that you as a filmmaker are trying to sell. When a middle class worker spends Rs. 200 to watch a movie, he is paying more for the experience than for the movie itself. Bollywood marketers realise that marketing movies means selling the entire experience of watching a movie to its end consumers. Moviemakers need to understand which category their movie belongs to it and which audience it aims at targeting. Hence, the marketing strategy for a Dabangg and a Peepli Live would be poles apart. While Dabangg was targeted at the masses and single theatre screens, Peepli Live was targeted at the multiplex audience. Hence Dabangg’s promos reflected the masala experience that the masses will relate to while Peepli Live’s promos had sarcasm and black humor which would generate interest among the multiplex audience. UTV Motion Pictures Marketing VP, Shikha Roy says, “Most of the promos were shot separately and not as a part of the movie, to generate a kind of viral campaign and to have the people talking”.
Marketing is all about catering to the needs of the consumers and making profits by satisfying those needs. Who better to know this than filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, most of the recent films made under his banner Vishesh Films revolve around recent controversies. Vishesh Films’s latest offering, Crook, is centred around the racial attacks on Indian students in Australia. Such subjects which the public relates to help gather enough interest and curiosity amongst them.
Bollywood makers are also giving a lot of thought to the naming of their products (movies). Like other products, movie names too should reflect the spirit, genre and feel of the movie. Gone are the days when a name like “Vijay” would sell, Innovative names are the order of the day. Dibankar Banerjee is one filmmaker who gives a lot of thought and importance to the naming of his films. His last offering “Love, Sex And Dhoka”, made on a shoestring budget of 2 cr. caught the eye balls of the youth just on the power of its unique name. The name of the movie was enough to generate curiosity in the minds of the public and attract them towards the movie screens.

• Placement: The timing of the launch of a product is a crucial factor in determining its success. Similarly, the release date of a movie is a significant factor in determining the success of the movie. Over the past few years, the biggest blockbusters released during the Diwali season or during the Christmas. What is the common link between Taare Zameen Par, Ghajini and Three Idiots? Apart from the fact that all these blockbusters star Aamir Khan, the movies have their release date as 25th December. Filmmakers nowadays invest a lot of thought in deciding the right time for releasing a movie. Even a good movie released during the exam season of students or if it is clashing with a major event such as IPL cricket extravaganza may get a dismal opening. Film makers also watch out if any big banner movies are being released during the same time as theirs and accordingly postpone or pre pone their release. Karan Johar, on his show Coffee with Karan once asked filmmaker Farah Khan what she would do if she realised that a Himesh Reshammiya movie was releasing at the same time as her’s. Farah replied with a smile, “I would postpone my movies release date”. That was the time when Himesh had the Midas touch.

• Promotion: No longer are promotions restricted to showing trailers and painting the city with posters of the movie. Bollywood movie promotions have come a long way. The small budget movies try to get referential power for their movies by participating in international film festivals. Winning awards in the international circuit helps in increasing the brand equity for the film, and the audience perceives that it will be a good product. Vikramaditya Motwane’s debut film Udaan created enough buzz and the multiplex crowd was waiting anxiously for the movie to release long before its promos started appearing. All thanks to the many awards and critical acclaim the movie managed to get in the international film circuit.
When it comes to marketing, Aamir Khan is one of the most innovative marketers out there. The way he promotes his movies is a lesson for all budding marketers. During the promotion of Ghajini, Aamir donned the role of a barber, giving Ghajini haircuts to his fans. For Three Idiots Aamir Khan went step further and came out with his own collection of hand drawn Doodle T Shirts, which reflected his own style and the soul of the movie. The T-shirts became a rage among the youth. In addition, the rickshaws in Mumbai were used as an effective way to market 3 Idiots. Aamir had painted stickers of “Capacity: 3 Idiots only” on the back of the rickshaws. The unique strategy created a lot of buzz for the movie at a very low cost.
Seeing the craze that youth of today have for playing games, Bollywood marketers have taken the route of combining movies and games to help promote their films. Yash Raj Films for their latest offering Lafangey Parindey has come out with two games: One a boxing game that reflects the spirit of Neil Nitin Mukesh and a skating game for Deepika Padukone fans. These games help movie fans to relate to the characters of the movie more closely.
Bollywood does not want to be myopic in its view, instead of looking at the television industry as a competition; they have taken it as a facilitator to promote their films. Reality TV shows are used by filmmakers to promote their movie. A few weeks before the release of a movie, you will have the stars of the movie making appearances as judges, hosts, participants on TV shows. John Abraham will be using the popular youth reality show MTV Roadies to promote his upcoming film, Jhootha Hi Sahi. Similar to the character he plays in the movie, John would lie to contestants but provide them with clues to help them win Roadies

• Personalisation: Today’s film makers realise that while marketing a film, they cannot follow a particular template for all films, but need to customise the marketing strategies for each, treating each film as a separate brand entity. So you had an Amitabh Bachchan poster telling you in theatres that, “Do not dirty the theatres or I will tell Paa” to “Switch of your mobiles or I will tell Paa” for the promotion of his film Paa where he played a 13 year old progeria patient. While for Anurag Kashyap’s Dev D you had customised tattoos being done at select parlors and condom shaped passes being distributed for the premiere of the movie. Ashutosh Gowariker’s movie What’s Your Rashee which had Priyanka Chopra play 12 different characters had 12 different flavours of popcorn being sold in movie theatres each corresponding to a different Rashee. The marketing team of Aladdin teamed up with Baskin Robbins to launch three delectable flavours on the characters of the movie: Ringmaster’s Whip, Princess Delite and Choco Aladdin. In another smart marketing move, ticket counter boys, ushers, and the popcorn boys sported the Ghajini haircut look during the release of Shah Rukh Khan’s Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. Therefore, although cine-goers went to watch SRK’s flick the anxiety to watch Ghajini, which was releasing two weeks later, increased manifold.

• People: The filmmakers have now begun to use actors for promotion rather than just using trailers and posters. They want the stars to be closer to the people. So be it Salman riding a horse in the Mahalaxmi race course to promote his action film Veer or Abhishek Bacchan creating a Guinness record by travelling to 5 different cities in a span of 24 hours to promote Delhi 6, the people connect is clearly visible. Bollywood marketers realise that people will feel for the movie and relate to it only when they are able to relate to the stars of the movie. Aamir Khan to promote Three Idiots, went on a disguise marketing trip, in which he went to various parts of India, incognito and understood the people’s problems, aspirations and dreams. The entire campaign did not take long to become viral and created a lot of hype for 3 Idiots.
Actors have also taken to blogging and tweeting to promote their films and to break barriers that exist between them and their audience. From Shahrukh Khan to Genelia D’Souza, you can find them all present on the social media circuit trying to develop a connect with their audience.
Imtiaz Ali, director of the romantic comedy Jab We Met, who has done a course in advertising and marketing from St. Xaviers, believes in the idea of inclusive marketing. He believes that the opinion of the public is very important for a filmmaker, as they are the final consumers. So when he was confused on fixing a title for his Shahid-Kareena starrer, he held an all India poll, asking people to vote from amongst 3 titles (Ishq via Bhatinda, Jab We Met and Punjab Mail). Jab We Met got the most votes and was chosen as the title for the film.
YouTube is also being effectively as a medium to connect to movie buffs. Recently the critically acclaimed film, Udaan had the lead actor asking the public to share with him their college moments on Udaan’s Facebook fan page. Also, Udaan had a contest in which the audience was asked to share their first adult film experience with the Udaan team on YouTube.
Anjaana Anjaani has a promotional campaign on YouTube in which movie fans can directly ask questions to its stars Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra and get them answered.

The aggressive marketing followed in Bollywood could well be due to the influx of companies like UTV Motion Pictures and Yash Raj Films that work in true corporate style in branding movies. In today’s time, a movie might be great but sans an aggressive marketing campaign, it would be very difficult to have it make an impact at the box office. I would like to end here by quoting a few lines that super star Amitabh Bachchan has written on his blog, “Good marketing has produced good results at the box office. That old belief that the merit of the film shall eventually emerge victorious has long since been overridden. By the time you wait for the merit to show its face, five other films have shown their merits.”