Bollywood Online Anti Piracy Partners: Marketing Initiatives to Reality

When I watched Dabangg last weekend, the first thing which caught my attention was a new category of opening credit – “Online Anti Piracy Partner”. Oh yes I do notice the opening credits and brand mentions :), blame it on my previous job which was actually into entertainment industry and as a part of my role I also used to look after brand alliances there. So coming down to this online anti piracy partner, I’ve been observing the increased usage of this term with every movie now and so when I saw a brand mentioned in the opening credit for this, it looked like a positive change. Indeed great to realize that Bollywood is now taking smarter technological routes to deal with piracy and there are branding efforts to give due credits to the partners who are supporting the industry in this cause.

But then I read this article today about Dabangg’s piracy, so Dabangg not only broke records in terms of BO collection in its opening two days, it also broke records of pirated distribution in the first two days. Within 15 hours of its release in India, over 50 websites were showing the entire movie of Dabangg. In 24 hours the numbers were over 200. Within 72 hours of the movie release, over 150,000 downloads were done in high-conservative assessment. In terms of dollar value at a 10 dollars ticket price, it is 1.5 million dollars (US) in the first 72 hours that has been lost. In Indian Rupees it comes to approximately – 6.8 Crores, an amount that could easily finance a couple of movies. With figures like this, it actually becomes the largest value of piracy in the first three days of a Hindi movie’s release. Those were the details of just online downloads, how about pirated DVDs? Even DNA reported availability of pirated DVDs of this movie within first two days at all prominent markets in just Rs. 50. In Bangalore, in fact the pirated copies are available for as low as Rs. 30.

Well, seems like regardless of all the marketing initiatives and consumer awareness programs to educate people about piracy, the problem remains as grave as earlier. In fact with digital distribution and increased internet usage by consumers in India, the access to online pirated content is getting easier by the day. At one hand internet is a boon to this industry when it comes to movie marketing or celebrity PR but on the other it’s a bane as well when it comes to illegitimate distribution of the content. Despite embracing technology and adopting software solutions to combat the piracy, till now nothing seems to be working for Bollywood to deal with this issue. Wondering what could be the bigger reason for this – lack of strong legal policies against piracy of content in India, strict bodies to enforce the existing laws, no strict action against the caught cyber criminals or the general attitude of ‘why pay when it’s available for free‘ of Indian consumers who are ok to compromise with quality if something is available for free?

Movie Marketing: Rajneeti

Had sort of stopped updating any post on movie marketing, as for past few months most of the Bollywood releases have been doing almost the same stuffs for promotion – websites, social media, television presence, reality shows participation, some general on ground events, radio messages etc. Their marketing strategies looked repetitive and formulaic. But with Rajneeti, things seem to be different. Not only the movie is in news because of its political semblances but their promotion campaign which is revolving around the integration between reel theme and real issues is also attracting enough eyeballs amongst interested common man & the media fraternity.

After Aamir touring across India for the promotion of 3 idiots amongst mass, now its stars like Katrina Kaif & Ranbir Kapoor who are on a nationwide on-ground campaign to promote their upcoming movie Rajneeti.  Keeping the political theme in mind, Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif have been on a run, hosting debates called “Aaj ki Rajneeti” in colleges in Bangalore, Delhi, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Kolkata, Indore and Ahmedabad. The groups discuss political and social topics concerning youth. For instance, at  IIM Bangalore the discussion was on youth taking active part in politics. As a part of this discussion cum promotion drive, the team is raising issues such as whether voting should be compulsory in the country; whether a year’s military training should be mandatory for every citizen; and whether film stars should join politics. The producers have organized many such rallies in various cities and each rally attracted a crowd of about 500-1,000 people. These rallies were turned into a televised property by STAR News. For a month, 30-minute episodes about the rallies were aired on the news channel at 8:30 pm. Apart from these events, as far as outdoor campaigns are concerned, this movie has tried to create a difference by using branding properties which resemble the hoardings used in real life political campaigns. Individual cut-outs of the movie’s characters, along with signages have been used extensively in different cities, to create an impression of a real-life election campaign in progress. Also, a special video which features the cast of the movie rendering the national anthem is being showcased in theatres, prior to the screening of the movie.

Going by the buzz it has created, the marketing campaign definitely seems to be interesting enough and bit different but let’s see how does the movie perform overall on the box office? As far as the opening is concerned, Rajneeti had a tremendous opening weekend, which is second only to 3 Idiots. The movie did net business of Rs 34 crore in its opening weekend as compared to 3 Idiots’ Rs 40.50 crore (source). Public verdict on social media has been mixed – some liked it while others have bashed it. Now let’s see when do I get the time to watch it and evaluate if the movie is really different or just another saga on politics and corruption in India.

“Paa” Marketing: Auro is the strongest marketing pull

For quite some time, I have not blogged about movie marketing mainly because of two reasons – 1.) I think like all other industries, even marketers from Bollywood were lying low due to economy as well as industry specific reasons and 2.) Like typical herd mentality, all marketers for past few months have been using almost ditto strategies again and again for their movie promotions – same website, social media, contest, reality TV presence etc. etc. Nothing new or innovative was coming out which could be discussed or talked about. But well looks like this monotony is going to be broken with the release of Paa. Not only the trailor but the promotion and presentations too are interesting enough to generate curiosity amongst the audience. Here are some of the new strategies which the marketers are using to promote this movie:

  • Brand Auro: Despite the fact that one of the biggest brands of Bollywood is playing the lead role of the movie, what is interesting is that the movie in all its promotions and appearances is focusing on Brand “Auro” and not Brand “Big B”. The promotion started with a teaser campaign with just a glimpse of Auro and at first look I actually didn’t recognize that it was Mr. Bachchan himself. Since then I’ve seen the promotion of this movie in different reality shows as well as television programs but everywhere it’s Auro who has been the focus and not the star-cast like other movie promotions.
  • Smart messaging: These days in cinema halls you won’t be surprised if you get a sweet chide like – “Stand up for the national anthem, or I’ll tell Paa”, or “Switch off your cell phones, or I’ll tell Paa”. This is how the movie is being promoted in theaters via slide shows and messages. Interesting and surely catchy!
  • Engaging properties: Apart from the regular engagement properties like on-ground events and contests, online website, presence on social networking sites like Orkut, Facebook, Twitter, channel on YouTube etc., this movie has been creating a difference through some other interactive promotions too, for e.g., the apt placement of Auro Dance within the cricket match. During the recent series, whenever a wicket was taken a small figure of Auro used to come on the screen, doing that unique “Auro dance” (you can see this dance on its official website as well). On the occasion of children’s day, contests like “Paa and I” where a child can be the father for a day or “I Love my Paa” was organized and all the contests received enthusiastic participation from the kids.
Good to see a fresh movie theme with fresh marketing initiatives. This is a low budget film and hence not much money has been spent on promotional activities but even with a small budget, I think the movie has created enough buzz in the market due to its intelligent strategies. And who needs a large budget to promote a film which has got 67 year old Amitabh Bachchan playing the character of a 13 year old kid. The most expensive element in this 16 crore film is actually Big B’s make-up which accounts to 10 % of the overall budget; no wonder his looks in the film is topic of such a high interest amongst media as well as audience. Mr. Bachchan’s make up for his character Auro is actually going to be one of the strongest marketing pulls for this movie.

What’s Your Raashee on Facebook

While doing some random surfing on Facebook, stumbled upon this app for horoscope and compatibility check, in fact it came as a friend’s update. On visiting I realized it to be an app from the makers of the movie “What’s your Raashee”. Indeed another interesting example of movie marketing from Bollywood. After websites, communities, forums, twitter and other social media marketing, it was good to see an app based on the theme of the movie i.e., zodiac signs. The application requires the user to answer questions about their personal preferences and then based on the common characteristics with other signs, they will be shown a list of users whom they are compatible with while offering them an opportunity to add those people as friends on Facebook.

Considering my interest in movie marketing, I did install that app immediately but well I must say that I was bit disappointed with the overall impact. Horoscope, compatibility tests or fortune cookies are definitely some of the most commonly used apps on facebook, every third update on my friend’s feed is actually related to horoscope or zodiac signs. So potentially this app could have created a great viral effect if there were enough interactivity and feed triggers available in it. The feed functionality is available only while installing the app, for rest of the actions actually there is no way to publish your updates. The way it tests the compatibility between you and your partner is quite confusing. Now if the app is allowing you to check the compatibility and if your partner is available on facebook, the fun would have been if there was a way to inform the partner about the compatibility result, same is missing from this app. Also it would have established a better connect with the movie if somewhere the zodiac result of any person could have been associated with the relevant character of the movie:

  • For e.g., in my case the result reads something like this: “Kark, About Your Raashee – Consider starting a small business on the side…”; instead of showing it like any other zodiac trait announcement if it would have read something like this: Karka, About Your Raashee – So, you’re like Hansa (Cancerain character in the movie) who is also a Kark and…” then I think along with fun this app would have led to subtle promotion of the movie as well.

Overall a great idea and I loved the initiative but execution could have been thought about more. Let’s see how the movie fairs at BO tomorrow, I for sure gonna watch it soon as I love Ashutosh Gowarikar’s movies.

Movie Marketing : Promotion “By Chance”

As I always say movie marketers are getting innovative day by day in India. Now here are some interesting marketing initiatives which have created quite some buzz esp. in Mumbai for the movie “Luck By Chance”. The production house has directly handled the marketing campaign of this movie and they have launched online as well as offline properties to create an overall impact.

·         Apart from regular reality show presence, production house has created an offline reality property known as “Auto By Chance”. They have branded auto rickshaws in Mumbai with “Luck By Chance” theme and anybody who spots any of these autos gets a free ride anywhere in Mumbai free of cost! Wow, so time for Mumbaikars to get lucky J. They have also branded some bus shelters as well as local trains in Mumbai with the movie theme. One lucky winner of “Auto by Chance” promotion will be interviewed live on Big FM. (Image Source: TOI)


·         The movie has also created good visibility in online space through different contests and promotions on many portals but what is again different is this online game property known as “Luck by Chance – Lucky Break” on You can choose your identity as any of the actors of the movie and play this luck game. Nice game it is from a promotion point of view and lucky winners get to win some prizes as well.

As per me, they have taken a good integrated marketing approach. Let’s see how lucky this movie gets at BO. Personally speaking I’ve been waiting for this movie for long esp. after watching Rock On and I would have anyways gone to see the movie in theater even if there was no promotion for this movie at all. Yeah, I think that’s the aftereffect of “Rock On” on me J. But from initial reactions it looks like Farhan Akhtar has gone second time lucky in his acting stint as movie has received positive response across theaters.

Movie Marketing: Chandni Chowk to China


Co-branded ad of Thumbs Up to promote the film Chandni Chowk to China has been doing rounds on television for weeks but now they have also introduced co-branded pet bottle of Thumbs Up to create more buzz about this movie. This bottle has added to the visibility of the movie through extensive retail presence. CC2C is yet another film which has been marketed quite aggressively. According to press releases, the budget for brand tie ups and promotion of the movie is as high as Rs. 100 million which is close to Ghajini’s estimated budget of 140 million. Apart from the regular movie marketing stuffs, like communities on social networking sites, an interactive website and contests on different portals, CC2C has managed to create quite some excitement in the market through its association with popular properties like MTV Roadies, leading beverage brand Thumbs Up, airline brand Jet Airways, interesting radio contests like the one with Red FM in Mumbai (winners got the chance to fly kites with Akshay Kumar) & with Fever in Delhi (Fever had arranged for a bus where people could get on the bus and participate in the contest, the bus was having Kailash Kher, music director and lyricist of the movie, the bus finally went to studio where fans got the chance to meet Akshay Kumar and Deepika Padukone). Well, looks like this movie has managed to get a good ROI through branded association itself.

Marketing wise I think CC2C has done a good job but let’s see how the movie performs at the box office. The opening received a lukewarm response but I think it’s too early to comment on the same. I have personally not seen the movie yet so can’t comment about the movie as of now, though there are enough examples in the past to prove that like any other product, in case of movies also, just promotion can’t do anything if the end product is not right. Remember the likes of Drona or Love Story 2050 and their fate despite being heavily marketed by thier promoters???


Ghajini Marketing Contd…

I had earlier written about some interesting Ghajini marketing strategies and a spoof on Ghajini, but got to notice some other interesting stuffs about Ghajini on digital medium in last one week and from whatever I have observed, one thing is clear that their marketing agency has definitely tried quite some different online marketing strategies for promoting this movie. Here are some of those which I noticed recently:

  • Now having a movie website is quite common these days, but in case of Ghajini, not one or two rather three websites were launched – , & While the 1st one is the official website of the film, 2nd and 3rd links are quite interesting properties around the movie which surely raises curiosity and creates excitement amongst the users over the story of the movie. Do try out and you will yourself feel the same 🙂

  • Speak of any entertainment portal and it is running some or other contest, now again movie contests like these are not new but what I noticed different was the one running on Business of Cinema. This contest is a kind of post-release contest and asks for feedback about the movie and lucky winners get a chance to meet Aamir Khan.


  • 3D game CDS were launched based on Ghajini theme and in fact Indyarocks was running a contest where the winners were to get these 3D game CDs.

  • Aamir’s own website is totally donned in Ghajini look since long and as Aamir is quite active on his blog personally, he has written some posts on Ghajini and his feelings around the release of the movie. Can you guess the number of comments on his recent post titled – Yes Ghajini is Releasing??? Its only 3588 as I’m typing this blog 🙂

  • Now this one is not a digital promotion but still I think I need to mention this – other day we went to this mall near our house and we were looking for some tie to be gifted to one of our close friends. The moment we entered Van Heusen shop all we could see was Aamir Khan and his Ghajini collection. All the ties on display were branded as “Ghajini special collection” and their normal collection hardly had anything. Well, I must say the brand was totally Ghajinifioed. In fact it’s not only Van Heusen, but Samsung and Tata Sky as well who are associated with Ghajini promotion because of their pre-association with Aamir Khan.

I am yet to see the film but the promotion of it has definitely created a stir in the market.

Ghajini Marketing: Employees go bald!

While I was anyways impressed with these interesting collaterals of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi in multiplexes, I get to hear of this another very different kind of promotion campaign of Aamir Khan’s upcoming movie Ghajini. Now first speaking of this Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi collateral which I noticed in a popular retail outlet in the form of a table top followed by a theater in the form of a long standee where I went to watch this movie, it was having a very fascinating dual visual effect. Same standee was showing two different forms of Shahrukh and Anushka if seen from two different angles – one was showing him in his common man avtaar and the next angle was showing him in his hip and cool avtaar. Quite interesting and attention grabbing! Wish I could have taken a picture of the same.


But I think what Ghajini has done is far more catchy and really unique in terms of promotion strategy. Ghajini promoters have tied up with leading multiplexes in Mumbai where multiplex staffs have volunteered to sport the famous Ghajini hairstyle from 9th Dec – 25th Dec’08. Well, actually they have gone bald like Aamir, so I am not sure how they are saying that this promotion is valid only till 25th Dec’08. I think it has to be valid till they don’t get their hair back…LOL, isn’t it? Can you imagine everybody i.e., right from administrative and refreshment counter staffs to ushers being bald at the same time??? Have a look on this pic and for more such pics check out this NDTV photo gallery.





I must say I found this promotion to be quite interesting and very hatke! At least I had not heard of this kind of thing before in Bollywood. Looks like Ghajini is not leaving any stone unturned for competing against the big releases like RNBDJ and Jumbo. Though jumbo is a movie of very different genre but RNBDJ is definitely having SRK and when it’s a competition between SRK & Aamir…well the whole world knows how and what it is J. Promotion wise definitely Ghajini is standing out more, but let’s see who stands out more at BO finally?


In-film advertising is FASHIONable

Watched Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion yesterday, I liked the movie…really liked it, though I think the name of the movie should have been “Kimaya’s Fashion” or “Fashion from Kimaya” J. Another interesting case of in-film advertising with not one or two brands rather many. To name a few, which I can remember – Kimaya, Lenovo, Sunsilk, Café Coffee Day, Reebok, LG, Cellucom were the key brands with Kimaya and Lenovo being the most prominent ones. In fact in-film advertisements were so loud and clear that I couldn’t help myself noticing a Godrej carton as well while Priyanka was relocating but guess Godrej’s presence was just by chance and not planned as it was shown hardly for a second or two.

But the good thing about in-film advertising in Fashion was that the brands were chosen carefully and the presentation was perfectly in sync with the scenes and sequences. Nowhere they looked jarring or force-fitted and instead of being just used in background they were properly integrated with the script esp. Kimaya considering the last round of fashion shows in the movie were critical part of the script. Overall good example of in-film advertising otherwise we have seen some horrible examples of in-film advertisement in Bollywood – remember Subhash Ghai’s Yaadein and those numerous brands within the movie…oh God those were very irritating. Good thing is that commercially the movie has made quite some money by these in-film advertisements. Out of total 220 million investments in Fashion, the producer has made 85 million by just these branded advertisements only! Now that’s approx 39% of the overall investment and definitely is some money to make through in-film advertisements.

In-film advertising in Bollywood is getting popular day by day and advertisers are coming out with interesting ways of integration. If done in the right way, it’s definitely an interesting promotional strategy which is mutually beneficial for the brands as well as the movie – brands get the right kind of visibility and registration in the minds of consumers whereas producers get to make some good money to cover up their cost of production. But such in-film advertisements only make sense if they are done in the right way like the recent example of Fashion otherwise in most of the cases they just end up in being logo showcased in background for few seconds.

Movie Marketing: Drona

As I said earlier like Hollywood, movie marketing is getting innovative day by day in Bollywood as well. We can see quite ground-breaking examples with each movie, be it Jaane Tu Jaane Na, Love Story 2050, Bachna Ae Hasseno, Rock On, Phoonk etc. Promoters are trying everything from reality shows, online promotions, interactive websites, innovative contests, promotions on social media to the good ol’ days traditional promotions like television, hoardings and print. While everybody is trying to do some or other promotions but there are some who start a trend by trying out something hat ke. Joining the bandwagon of bit hat ke promotion now is the upcoming movie Drona.

  • This weekend television was flooded with Abhishek Bachchan appearance in every other program, you switch any channel and you can see Junior B doing only three things – either mentioning the fact that Drona is the best movie he would have worked in or praising his dad and wifey’s acting talent or shaking his legs on Kajra Re 🙂. So, what was so Hat ke about Drona promos on television? I mean these days weekends are flooded with star appearances promoting their upcoming movie, so wasn’t Abhishek’s presence same as any other movie promo on television these days? Well, it was more or less same on other channels wherein he was judging reality shows like X, Y, Z, A, B, C, 1, 2, 3, 200, 300, 400 (oh I’m actually losing count of ongoing reality shows 😛) but it was definitely different on NDTV and Colors. On NDTV, this time in “India Questions” series it was Jr. B who made an appearance, this program is hosted by none other than Dr. Prannoy Roy himself and I personally like to watch this program whenever I can. But naturally the audience ratio was skewed positively towards females and the way the program was conducted was interesting. Apart from promo of movie Drona in a very subtle way, Abhishek’s fans got to know lots of other interesting facts about Abhishek as well thereby definitely leaving a positive impact of the actor and his upcoming movie Drona. Next was his appearance in this very irritating program Bigg Boss…well personally I hate that program from the core of my heart but the way Jr. B was involved in that program has definitely created quite some noise…the participants not only were made to act some scenes of Drona rather Abhishek got to spend some time inside the house as a normal participant. Well, many people who are not regular viewer of that program also actually ended up watching that episode because of Jr. B’s presence inside the house.

  • Next very noticeable promotion strategy of this movie is the hat-ke merchandize of the movie Drona. Producers of Drona are all set to launch a comic series based on Drona, the first of which titled “The Crowning” is set to hit the shelves of book stores on 30th Sep’08. Now in Hollywood we all know the trend of movies based on comic but this trend of a comic based on movie is quite interesting I must say. Of late, producers have tried games and other interactive merchandises based on Bollywood movies but not many of them were as such a huge success but Drona being a sci-fi movie maybe the comic will click with kids and younger comic loving TG. The comic is priced at Rs. 50 and is distributed by Euro Kids. Approx 20,000 copies have been printed in first phase and will be circulated through various key channels like Shoppers’ Stop, Future Group outlets etc. Hmmm interesting merchandise option and I think comic based on Indian Super hero has some potential as well.

Drona is slated to release on 2nd Oct’08, now let’s see how the end product is and what has box office in store for this movie? At the end no promotion can help in sustaining a product if the product itself is not good 🙂