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The Game Changers

The Screen Annual Survey 2014 reveals that Viacom 18 Motion Pictures has been voted the best Indian studio as far as marketing is concerned. Disney India came in second, while Fox Star Studios and Reliance Entertainment shared the third postion

Representational pic Representational pic

 Screen Annual Survey 2014

One cannot undermine the importance of marketing in today’s time. The need to be heard above the din of the plethora of movies that are released every week, has elevated it to an art where the most innovative strategy and the ability to catch the public’s attention determines the box-office results and the fate of the movie. Thus, the collection on the opening day as well as the first three days of a movie’s release, determines whether the movie is a hit or a dud at the box-office.
Over the years not only has the canvas of film-making changed with the advent of studios, but also the manner in which awareness is created in the market about the product has evolved. In recent years, films with novel content are finding resonance with the audience. Not only are film-makers traversing a bold path, but their stories are also finding a keen ear, with studios willing to invest their money. In fact, the homegrown studios in a short span of a decade have changed the face of not only how films are made, but also how they are marketed. So, when Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, an off-shoot of Viacom 18 established in 2008, decided to back Gangs of Wasseypur — a magnum opus made in two parts — the marketing team devised a strategy that caught the public fancy. Professional graffiti artistes from art colleges were roped in to design walls of Mumbai from Matunga to Mahim, prominently displaying the film’s catchlines, “Goli nai marenge keh ke lenge” or “Teri keh ke lunga”. To create an awareness, the campaign was taken to other cities too. What was also striking was that the film did not ride on star power.
The COO of the company Ajit Andhare explains, “We really did not rely on star power. We took into consideration the uniqueness of the subject, and the entire tag line ‘keh ke lunga’ that gave forth a strong message which brought out the essence of what the film was. It was a brilliant marketing strategy by us and we also included elements like the gamcha.”
Again, with Kahaani — a woman-centric thriller that revolved around a pregnant Vidya Venkatesan Bagchi (Vidya Balan) in search of her missing husband — the marketing minds at Viacom 18, had conceived a plan that had posters across the city stating, “A very pregnant woman was frantically looking for her husband at a railway platform in Mumbai.” A few days later, a “Missing” poster of a man named Arnab Bagchi was put up across the city and on social media platforms. On every poster, information about the movie’s website was provided. For the 2013 biopic on Milkha Singh’s life, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, the studio began its marketing blitzkrieg well in advance, the first teaser being released in November 2012. The studio wisely involved the ace athlete in all the promotional campaigns. Touted as an inspirational film rather than a biopic, it found resonance with the audience and became a commercial success. For its recently-released biopic, Mary Kom, the studio once again created the right buzz as it involved boxer Mary Kom in the marketing campaigns. Digital and social media platforms becoming a force to reckon with, the first poster of Mary Kom garnered interest when it was released on YouTube. Besides, it also partnered with several brands like Havmor, Mother Dairy, Usha International, Monte Carlo and Artemis Hospitals, and teamed up with media brands such as Ten Sports and India TV among others to create awareness about the film.
A trend noticeable in recent times, is that for almost all the films, the buzz is built on slowly but steadily, gaining momentum towards the release of the film. Amrita Pandey, VP and Head of Marketing and Distribution, Studios, Disney India believes that, “In today’s time, you cannot really survive without increasing the decibel levels of what you are doing. It is very important. We believe that it is not merely creating awareness, but building an appeal for our movie.”
So, when Disney India, (which now comprises of Disney India, UTV Motion Pictures and UTV Spotboy) that was initially founded as UTV Motion Pictures in 2004 (before the official acquisition in 2013 by Disney), one of the oldest studios in India, had launched a nation-wide hunt in association with SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai under the UTV Cinepact competition, to find the best marketing campaign for Barfi! The film that had A-list actors, revolved around two differently-abled characters. The makers succeeded in creating enough buzz by concentrating on its unique storyline as the strategy revolved around, “Don’t worry, be Barfi!” tagline. The strategy chalked out by the students focussed on how to tackle print media, online space and individual cities. In yet another initiative, the studio had carried out a YouTube campaign where users could interact with the main characters. A dedicated tab of Barfi! was created where Ranbir Kapoor interacted with his fans, sharing funny anecdotes about his character. The video then changed into an interactive app, wherein the fan sought help from Barfi on various topics, besides changing the mood of the character.
However, some films prefer to keep a low profile. For instance, Madras Cafe (Viacom 18) and Dhoom 3 (YashRaj Films). The former, a John Abraham-starrer gritty political drama, created quite a furore amongst certain sections as it revolved around the assassination of an Indian leader by the Tamil Eelam. The ensuing controversy, in fact, worked in the film’s favour generating enough curiosity amongst the audience and helped in earning Rs.24 crore in the first four days. Whereas, the marketing of the Aamir Khan-starrer, Dhoom 3 too was kept low key. Riding on its star power, it earned a surplus of Rs.500 crore worldwide.
In fact, Khan’s upcoming film, PK (UTV Motion Pictures) too is grabbing attention with a series of posters being released at periodic intervals. According to Pandey, the content is more important. In fact, even for Haider that the studio is releasing, its campaigns focuses on the dramatic elements in the movie.
While the marketing strategy for every film differs, almost all the studios agree that content plays a major role in planning the marketing of a film. The budget may vary — for a small-budget film with lesser known stars, the money spent could be double than the film that runs on star power. “There was a time when we would spend five per cent, which gradually rose to 15 and for some films it goes upto 40-50 per cent of the cost of production,” remarks Shikha Kapur, Chief Marketing Officer at Fox Star Studios. However, the amount of money spent on marketing is not important, but it is the planning that gains the desired results.
Pandey believes that communication is the key to success. “There is no point in endlessly spending money on marketing and production without planning. At the end of the day, we are all here to earn a profit,” she explains.
Andhare also echoes the view as he states, “Ultimately, the aim is to create a surplus in terms of theatrical figures from the money spent in generating theatrical demand.”
In the case of Hollywood films, which most often ride on the franchise, the studios distributing the films prefer to rely on the theatrical trailer that concentrates on visual aspects, action and the characters. For The Avengers, which is a Marvel superhero franchise, Disney India, which distributed the film in India, focussed the marketing around the characters and the fact that it was a Marvel movie. For the second instalment, Avengers: Age of Ultron, that is due for release in May 2015, the strategy, according to Pandey would be to communicate with the target audience. “Nearing the time of its release, we will partner with TV channels to play Avengers, so that it creates excitement for the next instalment. Besides, there are big stars like James Spader. When he talks to the Indian media at international junkets, it will help in increasing the movie’s appeal in India. Also, the promos that we will show on television will concentrate on visual and action in the film.” To attract the regional population, the film will be dubbed in the local languages that will help in expanding the base of the movie.
Interestingly, these are the strategies that grabs the audience’s attention and increases the footfall during the first few days of the movies’ release, deciding its fate at the box-office. As Shikha Kapur, the CMO at Fox Star Studios, succinctly states, “The opening day and the first three days of a film is of prime importance. And to achieve this, a good marketing strategy is the driver that helps drive the film forward.”

Different strokes

* Anurag Kashyap helmed Gangs of Wasseypur that was produced by Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, saw a unique marketing strategy under which the walls of several Indian cities was painted with the movie’s tagline, ‘Keh ke lunga’.

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*Chennai Express, which was promoted by UTV Motion Pictures, blended the traditional way of announcing a film with new age media to create awareness about the film. So, there were posters in different languages including Spanish, German, Tamil and Telugu. An interactive movie channel with the Chennai Express team by a media house, launch of several merchandise, mobile games and introducing a new range of sarees, all helped in making it one of the highest grosser.

Kick that was distributed by Disney India, released its official trailer at Gaiety, a single screen theatre in Mumbai, for the first time. Members of the public were allowed to watch the trailer and interact with Salman Khan.

* For the recently released biopic on boxing champion Mary Kom, Viacom 18 Motion Pictures had run a campaign with Markadiction Marketing Club that had designed a painting of a woman with boxing gloves standing within the Olympic ring with two children and the tagline, “A mother leads… a nation follows”. Besides, 20 brands were associated with the film that was given tax exemption in several states.

Bang Bang, the most-awaited movie from Fox Star Studios, launched its first trailer on YouTube. The steamy chemistry between the lead actors — Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif — has created a lot of excitement since then.

First published on: 03-10-2014 at 01:00:46 am
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