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How Bahubali franchise became the biggest film brand ever

15-May-2017
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How Bahubali franchise became the biggest film brand ever

Bahubali has stirred massive waves in the Hindi film industry and the trade analyst fraternity can’t stop raving about it. The audience is completely taken over by this storm and Rajamouli’s power of imagination. Mythical storyline, larger-than-life characters, canny acts of power and politics and breathtaking action sequences— Bahubali’s grandeur has it all.

But is this enough to be the biggest film brand ever in the Indian film industry? The Bahubali franchise has become so big that it’s hard to grasp its box-office collections at the first look. Although it is SS Rajamouli’s magnum opus, only time will tell whether it becomes the magnum opus of film marketing in India.

Bahubali is the costliest Indian film ever made with a total budget of Rs 430 crore. Bahubali: The Beginning was made with an approximate budget of Rs 180 crore whereas Bahubali: The Conclusion has been made with an approximate budget of Rs 250 crore. The first and foremost marketing tactic, therefore, was labelling it as the “Most Expensive Film” ever made in India hinting directly to its grandeur.

Chandramouli Nilakantan, CEO, TRA, says “The first thing behind success is the product. The extraordinary product that the Bahubali creatives team has managed to create is the foremost reason for its success. Yes, it’s been marketed as the costliest film, but we have seen so many films in the past with huge budgets wasting their money. Creating such a great cinematic experience with Rs 400+ crore is very cost-effective and equivalent to the Mangalyaan success that India achieved earlier.”

Bahubali is heavily and tactfully distributed with a release in highest ever number of screens in India and abroad. The film is produced by Arka Media Works owned by Shobu Yarlagadda and Prasad Devineni. They roped in leading producers in other languages to market the film—Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions and Anil Thadani’s AA Films for Hindi, Studio Green, Sri Thenandal Films, UV Creations and K Productions for Tamil and Global United Media for Malayalam. Arka Media Works marketed the film themselves (through Arka Connect) for the Telugu version and got US-based BlueSky Cinemas for overseas versions.

Language/No. of Screens Bahubali:
The Beginning
Bahubali2 :
The Conclusion
Distributor (S)
Telugu 1600 2000 Arka Media Works
Hindi 1500 3500 Dharma Productions AA Films
Tamil 350 500 Studio Green,
Sri Thenandal Films,
UV Creations,
K Productions
Malayalam 225 300 Global United Media
Overseas 135 2500 BlueSky Cinemas
  4000 (approx) 9000 (approx)  

“The scale of the franchise has been increased immensely in the second part, given that the number of releases has more than doubled to reach 9,000 this time. The distribution of the film was well thought through and giving it out to the leading producers of various languages has brought them immense relevance and regional focus. Given the brand that Bahubali is, any producer would have wanted the film. The negotiations and profit distributions would have been the major criteria for bagging the film” says Nilakantan.

The application of Integrated Marketing Communications to build the brand equity has brought Bahubali this highly acclaimed commercial success. The producers left no stone unturned in their promotional strategies, which ranged from digital, buzz, merchandising and extended to books, games, animated series, Visual Reality (VR), TV series and mobile games with a lot of partners and sponsors.

“The marketing of Bahubali has an understated elegance attached to it. There has been no unnecessary over hype and the marketers have let the product speak for itself. I will call the approach as evolutionary marketing rather than revolutionary marketing where they’ve relied on word-of-mouth, which has higher credibility than any other promotional tactic. The curiosity, anticipation and desire created among the audiences worked wonders in terms of box-office collection because they delivered a product that was beyond the expectations of the audience and made the viewers happy in the end. The brand has become iconic because of the price realizations it achieved,” says Brand guru and MD of Samsika Marketing Consultants, Jagdeep Kapoor.  

Rise Of Sivagami is a book written by Anand Neelakantan, Bahubali: The Lost Legends is an animation series on Amazon Prime, Bahubali: Battle Of The Bold a graphic novel, and the Bahubali mobile games were designed by Moonfrog Labs.

Along with doing brand associations with many brands like Nestle, Britannia, Oppo, and Airtel among others, marketers leveraged Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to create and then sustain the buzz for a period of four years. The youth targeting through these platforms spread the buzz furthermore to elder audiences through word-of-mouth. There was plenty of groundwork like actors and crew interviews and visits to events at public places for reaching out to audiences of different segments. A specialised 25-member marketing team was put up at ArkaConnect to ensure all of this was done smoothly and effectively.  

The question, Why Kattappa Killed Bahubali? was a great tactic to keep the interest alive in the second part and had an immense recall value. It kept popping up every now and then, even in discussions beyond the film across all age groups. This question was not only about the storyline of the film but a central marketing and promotional point for the Bahubali franchise. The hashtag #WKKB appeared regularly on social media posts and was also seen on the main film posters out of home.

The trailer of the film also went on to become the most watched trailer in Indian cinema, crossing 100 million views on the internet. Bahubali has already set the template for how to market a film the right way.

The question being asked in the trade is whether in coming times a film brand could break the mammoth records created by the Baahubali franchise. The hopes are certainly high viz-a-viz another film coming next year—S. Shankar’s Robot 2.0, featuring Rajinikanth alongside Akshay Kumar and Amy Jackson. The film is allegedly made with an even higher budget than Bahubali (both films combined), standing at Rs 450 crore. 

Brand guru Jagdeep Kapoor says, “Comparing one film with the other doesn’t make sense. In the end, it is not about beating the past collections; it is about meeting the consumer expectations. Focus on the consumer, exceed consumer expectations and then meet them to be a great brand. As I always say, focus on the ball, not the bowler.”

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