RA.One Marketing: Was definitely needed but how much?

Just watched another program bashing up Ra.One marketing campaign and how the film has been a dud till now despite a very well planned campaign. Well, first of all I have not watched the movie till now, so I wont be the right person to comment on the actual content of the movie. I’m aware of the basic theme, the marketing campaigns, supposedly the superior effects, technological edge, the characters and songs of the movie. But beyond that no comments on whether it’s good or bad.

Possibly one of the longest marketing campaigns in the history of Indian movie marketing spanning over a period of approx 10 months & with a lavish budget of Rs. 40 crores, Ra.One had indeed one of the most discussed maniac marketing campaigns ever. From global tours, to graphic novels, to digital marketing, to brand alliances, to presence on reality shows, to innovative merchandises, to physical toys, to digital games for ipods / ipads, to youtube channel, to google plus pages… phew and yes, before I forget, to even have Akon for Chammak Challo and Lady Gaga for the premier… I mean you name it and the movie had got it. Yes, I agree the marketing campaign for Ra.One was nothing less than an attack on your senses! Words like overdrive or aggressive promotion would be understatement for a campaign of that magnitude.

But I still do not understand why link up a promotion campaign with the average or failed performance of the movie. Since when a good marketing has actually made a bad product successful in the market? Can’t recall even one case study where a crap product has been a hit because of strong marketing. Despite, all the criticism on the marketing strategies and the need for it, I for one at least think that a movie like Ra.One needed the promotion push in the market. Here’s why:

  • Content: The movie tries to venture into a different zone, the sci-fi genre that is still primarily untouched by many in Indian film industry. A third of the film’s budget has gone into special effects and Ra.One boasts of some 3,500 VFX shots in the entire movie. Considering the digital bang and effort which has gone into creating this kind of content, it does make sense to me to back it up with relevant marketing and engagement tools like digital games, innovative merchandises and graphic novels etc. Two of my movie buff friends actually commented – “when it comes to special effects, the movie has been made marvelously well. Whatever said and done, the movie has set up a benchmark and standard for others to match up to in Indian Film Industry.”

  • Character: It’s not a general Bollywood flick with a pre-decided story line. This movie is all about an Indian super hero and that too a new brand. More than the movie, a character G.One had to be introduced, defined and established in the minds of the TG. A brand different from legendaries like Spiderman or Superman of this world. Now whenever there has been a need of such introduction, promotion has to be done. Take the case of any famous Hollywood flick and you’ll see a trend.

  • Target Audience: Apart from regular SRK fan base, the movie was also targeted towards kids and anything around kids these days has to be marketed with that special imagery or the zing factor to grab their attention. In fact if we speak of the TG, it was sort of a shift from that typical SRK imagery where instead of wooing the women audience or presenting a family melodrama, it was the first time when he has tried to entertain kids primarily. And trust me I have met three kids in last one week who actually liked the movie, loved the character of G.One and merchandises of Ra.One.

Considering the attempt at a different kind of content, need to establish a brand in form of a character and an attempt to target a completely different set of audience, I think this movie needed the marketing buzz for sure. Now, whether a budget as huge as this was needed or promotion as aggressive as this was required is something really debatable. In my views, its yet another classical case of “how much is too much” and “create the hype only if you have the potential to sustain it” with which the campaign needs to be reviewed or evaluated and not with a direct correlation or one-to-one relationship solely between marketing efforts and product performance.

P.S: Despite all the criticism, I think I do want to catch up on this movie sometime for sure 🙂 and if at all my views change after watching this movie, I will update the post again.

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 : 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 zapak.com. 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 – www.rememberghajini.com , www.findghajini.com & www.wallofsuspects.com. 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.

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 🙂

Bollywood promotions – other interesting examples

I had written post about bollywood marketing earlier as well, I must say things are getting innovative day by day. The most talked about two recent releases are “Love Story 2050” & “Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na”. Both are releasing on 4th July’08 and both these films are marketing their stuff quite aggressively. Though both are quite hyped up movies but guess Jaane Tu…has managed to grab more pre-release attention because of its super aggressive PR plans and 360 degree marketing approach. After observing different promotional strategies of these two movies, I think the two key catchy promotional strategies which I noticed are:

  • Marketing Tie-ups: Both these movies have managed to get big brands roped in for their movies. “Love Story 2050” has got Lux, Xbox 360, Tata Indicom and Sun Microsystems interested for branding and marketing tie-ups whereas “Jaane Tu…” has secured marketing alliances with Zee and Sony, and is expected to sign Coke and Toyota, brands endorsed by Aamir Khan. Not that tie-ups like these are something new but the fact that now-a-days such tie-ups are covering the overall production cost of even huge budgeted films like “Love Story 2050” is something really fascinating. “We have covered 20% of our production costs through brand and marketing tie-ups. But if we combine the money that we have earned through merchandising and distribution deals, it would cover 100% of the costs. Anything that we will earn from now on would be profits for us,” says Rowena Baweja of Harry Baweja Productions. Love Story 2050’s production cost is an estimated Rs 50 crore (Source: ET online, dated 23rd June’08). 50 crores getting covered through tie-ups and merchandising, wow, really interesting!
  • Increasing online promotions: Next important thing which caught my immediate attention today was promotion of these films in online world…most of the popular sites are splashed with “Jaane Tu…” promo today, not sure if they had started their online promo earlier but it struck to my eyes today only and more so because of this very catchy ad on msn India homepage today.

(Brief description for the benefit of those who have missed out this ad: As soon as you go to msn India home page, suddenly you see Imran Khan walking all over the screen very coolly and then he suddenly knocks the screen and goes back to that Jane Tu Box). I have seen some other ads earlier as well like this but somehow the presentation and background score of this ad was too good! Apart from this they have other interesting banners on facebook, AOL bollywood etc and a very trendy website as well. It’s cool, vibrant and think can establish a good connect with their youth TG. Hmmm, movies are seriously investing in websites these days!

Well, the fate of these movies as well as the return on investment will be decided tomorrow but one thing is sure – movie marketing is definitely becoming an interesting field in itself.

Aside: I watched Jaane Tu last weekend…loved it. Same old story, same old climax, same end but still it was so fresh! I would recommend it to everybody who just want to go for some light and fun flick. And take my words, it will surely remind of your good old student life days and suddenly after coming out you will feel like either talking to your friends or talking about your friends 🙂