While pasting posters everywhere was and is still practiced for publicity for Bollywood movies, it hardly suffices. From actors pulling pre- movie release stunts to filmmakers garnering media attention themselves, every possible gimmick is being put to use. This in itself is not new. But just plain old media attention isn’t enough anymore. There’s something different about the industry today, and that means the PR game needs to be kicked up a few notches.
Today’s film industry is drastically different from the past. With almost 3000 films releasing in India in a given year, the fight for box-office success reads more like sports scores. Movies have special effect teams, and teams devoted just to publicity be it releasing games based on the movie a few weeks before or partnering with a well known brand. Whatever the stunt ; it has become a necessity for those with stakes in the movie to ensure that they create that “must-watch” feeling among the masses.
Sure, sex and Sharukh Rukh Khan sell movies. Entertainment, entertainment, entertainment, as a recent Bollywood flick said. But SRK’s tactics are a lesson for the industry: non-stop television promotions, tie-ups with news-channels and popular online sites, birthday celebrations, frequent fisticuffs with fellow actors and Wankhede grounds staff, constant run-ins with New York immigration, cricket match appearances and last but certainly not the least, the OSO clothes line. The Badshah of Bollywood has taken the task of film-marketing to a whole new level. And as a result, despite a rather weak storyline and very mediocre performance; Ra One ended up being quite a hit at the box office.
While the bulk of movie advertising, targeted at the masses is mainly done via TV – in the form of trailers, songs, star appearances on TV shows, interviews, “making of” snippets, reviews and movie news – here are five more modern-day tools, used to promote films:
Radio, yes. But it’s not just about advertising or news anymore. According to the ministry of Information and Broadcasting, India’s metropolitan cities offer nearly 132 lakh FM radio listeners each day. And so, naturally, tie-ups with radio channels for marketing films are becoming increasingly common. On-air contests, interviews with film stars and music composers, complementary movie tickets as prizes, an option to meet the stars in person and music coverage, are just a few ways in which the radio is becoming a popular promotional tool. Taking the case of the tie-up between Big 92.7 FM with Yashraj Films as its exclusive on air partner for the film Jhoom Baraabar Jhoom, the station featured interviews with Preity Zinta, Lara Dutta, Bobby Deol, and music directors Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy during the music premiere. Listeners could even win a chance to be part of an exclusive music video ‘Jhoom Baby Jhoom’ featuring common people dancing to the title track, in addition to getting an opportunity to interact with the stars of the film.
Today, almost every second Indian has a multi- media enabled phone, and not surprisingly, ringtones, wallpapers and caller tunes are very popular. Taking it a step further multiplexes even ensure consumers receive SMS short reviews as well as a schedule of theatres on their mobile. Contests and dynamic updates available on cellular networks also generate repeat look ups. An example of the use of such tactics was in promoting movies like Veer Zaara and Swades through R World, where subscribers would get automated calls for the film’s cast members – Shahrukh Khan and Preity Zinta, giving movie updates and trivia.
In the world of entertainment branding and promotion, where promos and trailers create viewer perceptions, teasers play a very vital role when it comes to films and their marketing. A teaser is all about creating a buzz around a movie in order to maintain a high recall value. It is essential in today’s market place where 100’s of movies are released each week. Teasers can find their way to print mediums or digital. A clever example is Fear Factor’s scorpion. During select prim-time TV programmes, an animated family would walk onto the screen (at the bottom); a few seconds later, they would be chased away by a giant scorpion – eluding to the thought “the most scary season yet.”
Co-branding and Merchandising
Co-branding movies and products only succeeds when the movie and the brand target the same audience. Like Krrish did, when they targeted children, as their primary audience. Pidilite Industries’ Acron brand of “Rangeela” colours had brought out special packs based on the film. Commercials on cartoon channels inspired young viewers to “celebrate the magic of Krrish with ‘Rangeela’ colours”. The co-branded colours were also made available at the multiplexes where the film was screened.
The makers of Krrish even tied up with Pantaloon Retail India Limited for the manufacturing and marketing of Krrish merchandise.
Ask anyone in Delhi – the most popular Indian songs are Bollywood item numbers! It’s the reason Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy are as legendary as Shahrukh, Ekta and Helen of Troy. But its not just about good music- it has to be everywhere. Movie soundtracks are released as tapes and CDs prior to the release; there are live performances and concerts. Remixes played at nightclubs, on the radio; cover versions sung by contestants on TV shows and dance performances at award shows. All these are used to add to the promotional strategy of films these days.