In-film advertising is no longer an alien concept today. Film placements are currently raking in anything between Rs 5, 00,000 to Rs 50 million for the producers. For Leo Entertainment, the road’s not been easy, yet it has sustained a certain degree of respect and grudging admiration from the industry.
The outfit has developed into an independent profit centre due to revenues obtained from films such as ‘Kaante’, ‘Raju Chacha’ and ‘Yeh Kya Ho Raha Hai’ wherein it leveraged brands such as Coke, Thums Up, Maaza, Provogue, Castrol, Tata Tea and Blowplast. Leo’s tryst with ‘Jism’ is all too well known, wherein an innovative association was developed with Zingaro, a liquor brand. In fact, Leo had brokered a Thums Up Taste the Thunder deal for the film Kaante and won an award for being one of the top ten product placements of 2002.
And now after much action in Bollywood, Leo Entertainment has its sights set on Hollywood as well. Says Sanjay Bhutiani, Head, Leo Entertainment, “We currently have two cross over films in the kitty and we have been given the task of marketing them internationally, in countries such as UK and USA. I would say that as an agency, Leo Burnett is very well networked and understands the intricacies of the business. If you look at movies such as Bend it like Beckham and Monsoon Wedding, these films went on to make around 100 million dollars. When you compare these with Hindi super hits such as Kuch Na Kaho and K3G, you would find that these amount to just 4 or 5 million dollars.”
Bhutiani also adds that he is currently in talks with a few companies (based in Hollywood) for the marketing of international musicians and stars in India. He assures that he would be in a position, to make an announcement in a month or so
Leo Entertainment is evidently doing a great deal in the events and celebrities department as well. He asserts, “Mooning around stars, and marketing them aggressively, is not the business model that we are looking at. We pride ourselves on being an agency that forecasts trends in the movie industry, such as what star is propelling himself/herself through which category of films, the rates that they charge, and the kind of projects that they are suitable for. Accessibility is not a problem for us, since we know the industry inside out. We have brands that expect us to recommend the ‘right celebrity’ on the basis of a brief. So, once we have the projects in hand, we then look at celebrities that are ideal for these brands. Currently, we have two projects in hand, one which involves IOC and star Dharmendra and a second which involves a prominent star and P&G.”
On the events front, Leo Entertainment has been a part of various public affairs such as the re-launch of AB Corp, the success story of Bhoot, Film festival in Pune for FTI and the Virodh launch. On another note, Leo Entertainment has also been appointed by UTV, for a 360 degree spin on things, which involves ad promotion, strategy, events, web designing and brand association.
And what’s next on the brand placement in film scene? Bhutiani answers, “Well, we have a couple of projects lined up with Ram Gopal Verma and Ravi Chopra. Ravi Chopra’s film is slated for release shortly and it is a big budget film starring Aishwarya Rai, Salman Khan and Amitabh Bachchan. You can very well classify it as Baghban Part 2.”
Incidently, Leo Entertainment is fending for new talent and is looking to boost its team in a big way. Specialists within the arena of celebrity management, brand placement in cinema, events and marketing are being sought after.
How’s it going for Bhutiani on the revenue front? He is quick to answer, “We are doing pretty well for ourselves. If it weren’t the case, then we wouldn’t be looking to branch out into new businesses and to boost our internal structure. We are more than happy with what we make. And thanks to the mindset amongst brands (which is undergoing a rapid change); in-film placement is rapidly turning out to be a smart solution.”