Both strategies are good, but I think promotional blitzkrieg is the way to go. We have to understand that we are in the business called ‘show business’, and it needs to show to the public. Now with big films where the Khans are a part of it, promotional campaigns have to be really big. Because the stakes are really high, and the product needs to be taken to every house of the country so that they can come out in droves to watch the film which can ensure its success.
For smaller films, publicity is extremely necessary to make people aware of it. Otherwise what’s the point of making films for the big screen if the audience doesn’t turn up? With bigger films with big stars, there are different kinds of challenges. The stars have a huge fan base and they embark on promotional activities like tours to different cities or TV channels because they want to interact with their fans to whom they owe a lot of their success.
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I remember when we were doing Raaz with Vishesh Films, we were touring the entire country. Our strategy of going all out worked so well that the film became a massive hit. Now every week there are so many releases that it puts immense pressure on all fronts to create awareness about the film.
The question of going a little slow on publicity is pointless because publicity is always going to help a film. As the age old adage goes, any publicity is good publicity. So we must go all out on billboards, TV, radio, print or events, so that we utilise our films’ potential to the optimum level. Nowadays, with the advent of social media, I think our industry should start focusing on it, because it holds a huge potential, and the youth, which forms a large chunk of our audience, are hooked to it. That’s where the future lies.
Head of Marketing and Operations, Viacom18 Motion Pictures
The debate can never centre on whether the promotion should be high or too low, because it’s a relative phenomenon, intrinsically related to the film. In the past few years, the number of films has gone up, in turn increasing the clutter in the market, which has increased the pressure on publicity and marketing. Now, one has to really shout from the rooftop so that it gets the desired attention from the audience. The pressure on publicity is primarily driven by the pressure of recovery of the product, which has become very high, thanks to the recovery window going down with incessant releases.
In recent times though, the trend has been promotional blitzkrieg, be it TV, due credit must be given to Yash Raj Films (YRF) and the brains behind Dhoom 3 where they used the film’s content and curiosity to the utmost advantage of the film while keeping the publicity very low. Since it was already a huge franchise, and the association of Aamir Khan and Katrina Kaif added to the anticipation of the film, YRF was clever not to overkill the promotion.
We must not forget that it is not the case with most films that release every week. There can’t be any absolute number conversation on this. The most important thing is that fair rationalisation of marketing needs to happen. Marketing can’t be based on assumption.
For smaller budget films, we have gone all out to ensure that all the avenues of promotion and publicity has been explored and the public has been made aware of our product. That’s what we do because we are assured of the quality of the film, irrespective of its star presence. Marketing can never change the quality of the film, it can only ensure optimum business.
— Debate conducted by Ranjib Mazumder