Phoonk Contest – Movie Promotion Strategy

So, it was not hoax… This contest news started doing rounds in media somewhere in last week of July’08 and almost every publication including ET has covered it. But somehow I kept on thinking that it’s not real and is yet another scandalous strategy to promote the upcoming horror movie of Ram Gopal Varma – PHOONK. But well, I was wrong, it’s true that Ram Gopal Verma is running a “Dare to watch it alone” contest wherein he is announcing a prize money of Rs. 5 lakh for anyone who dares to watch this movie from start to finish alone in a theater. Very interesting promotional strategy to instigate people to watch this movie.

Azam Khan the producer of the film says, “We’re confident that the film is so scary that it will be extremely difficult to watch it all alone in a theater. We will be running a contest and giving out details on our website about how to participate in it. Right now we have decided that we will screen the film for the winners of the contest a few days before the release of the film, that is on August 22. At the moment we have planned four trials that we will screen in a preview theatre.” (source: Infact the contest details are out on their website as well as their official communities on facebook and orkut. Official communities on facebook and orkut are asking people to visit their website and I must say that PHOONK website is a very well done up website unlike many other movie website which are just a collection of some html pages promoting the wallpapers and ringtones. I really liked the UI of this website and the background score is creepy enough to scare a person like me at night :P, have a look on this snapshot yourself:

This contest has definitely become a hit I think, as out of 423 members (as of today) on the official community of facebook, more than 180 people have commented saying they are willing to accept the challenge. Not only that all official articles in online newspapers, official blogs etc are flooded with comments of people dropping their mobile number and email ids to participate in this contest. It had to happen for sure, general human psychology is that the moment you dare people for anything, most of them would like to try it out. I am sure that because of this contest and hype about Phoonk being one of the scaroest movies ever made, many people will go now to watch it in theater. Apart from this dare to watch it alone contest there is another contest announced on their website viz., “It Happened to me” contest wherein participants are supposed to share their real life scariest experience, black magic stories or ghostly encounter and the 10 best entries selected by Ram Gopal Varma will be paid Rs. 25,000 each. Not only that, if your story is good enough to be made into a feature film you will win as good as Rs. 5 lakh and if your story is selected and you can write a complete script for the film you will win Rs. 10 lakh!

Yet another exciting and very impressive promotional strategy from bollywood! As I mentioned earlier bollywood is getting seriously innovative day by day to promote its movies and PHOONK is another example of that. Now let’s wait and watch if these marketing gimmicks are going to give any success to Phoonk or it will be just another dud from RGV factory!

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 🙂