Super-hero movies don’t usually click too well with all kinds of audiences but fanatics more than balance, or should we say tilt the balance, in favour of such movies. The Avengers will probably turn out to be one of the most quoted examples of when content creators thought through a long-term plan that leveraged fan following, added on to the word of mouth the movie could generate and allowed five movies to ride on each other’s popularity.
Iron Man in The Hulk, Thor in The Iron Man and The Avengers in Captain America were all interesting steps in keeping the fans talking and making them brand ambassadors of the movies. Even before The Avengers that released in India last week had begun advertising, social media platforms were already buzzing with conversations around the movie and all previous movies that it had any mention of. These small things played a big role in adding the surprise element to excite fans.
The basic point that comes forth is that when content creators pay due attention to the mass media platform that content itself can be, and marry a commercial message with that content, magic happens.
For Hindi general entertainment channels in particular, content has served as ‘media’ for a very long time. It is not new to see characters of an established programme discuss a channel’s forthcoming release and promote it in a ‘cost free’ manner. At least some channels dub it such.
Some promotions are as blatant as can be. A quirky character, neither negative nor positive and usually the same character for every new launch that has to be promoted on that particular show, is ‘assigned’ the task of not only being interested in the show but also mentioning the release date and the time slot of the show. Chances are that the viewers already has this information in some form, through promo or mass advertising or programmes that focus on new launches.
Then there are the other kinds too, like Khushi from ‘Iss pyaar ko kya naam doon’ talking of ‘Gopi bahu’ in a conversation with her husband Arnab. But in the process, she has already made another character of a serial just that, a character from another serial.
Most Star Plus viewers will know Gopi bahu in some way and those who did not know may just keep wondering. What has this in-programme promo achieved?
Why do it if you are not looking to create an impact? If it is simply to create awareness then that is undermining every other method, including promos within that show, to achieve it. If the show’s screenplay has been made to accommodate a promo message and an actor is involved, should it still be treated ‘cost free’?
The lesson from The Avengers is the ability to instil life in characters. It is not just about the date and time of a show, but the story of another household that may just be in the neighbourhood. Now that is what can get viewers really involved. Hasn’t reality TV taught us that already?
The most evolved form of content cross promotion perhaps has been when two shows are brought together on the same platform as some kind of a super special, making it part of one big universe. Usually these are promoted as big episodes, sometimes on a special block and so on. Now, is that a good idea too? Is the intention only to drive the television rating of that particular episode?
What is stopping ‘Adaalat’s KD Pathak from being Mr Ram Kapoor’s occasional friend in ‘Bade Achche Lagte Hain’? Different production houses? But isn’t the IPR of all these shows with Sony Entertainment? What is the harm in giving KD life on weekdays too or taking Mr Kapoor to viewers on weekends?
Star Plus, Zee TV, Sony and Colors have demonstrated great creative prowess time and again. They understand viewers and content that clicks. But do they understand and do justice to the power of their own media when it comes to promoting their offerings? Doesn’t look like they do...