We can wash our hands with one of over 30 different soaps. We can choose from any of dozens of new car models in the market. We can use any of the many cold drink brands to quench our thirst. In a market driven world characterised by a tyranny of choice, branding is a constant fight for survival. As brands evolve they need to look beyond the conventional forms of communication. And 'in-film branding' is among the in-things.
Many national and international brands have already used cinema to carry their message for the sheer impact that films make on audiences. In the Hollywood blockbuster, 'What Women Want', the Mel Gibson starrer has a Nike commercial woven so well into the script that we don't even realise we are watching a commercial camouflaged in the screenplay.
Bollywood too has taken the cue from Hollywood. The latest release, 'Kyun? Ho Gaya Na' saw the debut of a 'star', HM Lancer, on the big screen. Commenting upon the Hindustan Motor initiative, Ms Soni Srivastav, General Manager, Corporate Communications, C.K. Birla Group, said, "This is the first time we are using the in-film branding route for any of our products. Lancer worldwide is a well acclaimed rally car, we felt it was a great opportunity to highlight the car's virtues to our Indian audience."
On the immediate benefits of the initiative, she said, "This association has not only helped us generate a good brand recall for the Lancer but also provided us a vehicle to showcase and reinforce the brand's USP in the most innovative way."
Recent Bollywood films like 'Baghban', 'Hum Tum', 'Kaante', 'Kuch Na Kaho', 'Road', 'Chalte Chalte', 'Joggers Park', 'Jism', 'Yaadein', etc., had all managed to rope in more than a brand each. Brands like ICICI, Ford, Kwality Walls, Castrol, The Times of India, Coca-Cola, Thums Up, Tata Safari, Zingaro, a UB group brand, Pass-Pass, Tide, Asmi Diamonds, etc., are just a few of the brands associated with these films. The brands associated with certain films today are associated with their campaigns too. This could range from ad films, to promos, to contests, auctions and selling movie merchandise.
Hindustan Motors has also begun a contest at popular cineplexes across key markets to promote the Lancer. A contest form would be given to car owners when they enter the parking lot of the cineplex to watch KHGN. Participants would have to fill the contest form and deposit it at the Lancer counter/drop box at the cinema lobby/snack bar before the movie begins. To add to the excitement, names of winners who answer the questions correctly are being announced during the intermission.
Another such initiative was carried out for the movie, 'Makdi', which had roped in Maza, a cold drink brand. It was a contest for children where, the winners were awarded an all-expense paid trip to Goa with their parents.
Asked whether India has lagged behind in taking to this concept, as 'Bond' movies have been featuring Aston Martins and BMWs for quite a long time now, Sanjay Bhutiani, GM, Leo Entertainment, Leo Burnett's film marketing division, said, "In Bollywood it was first experimented in 1973 with the Rajdoot motorcycle associating itself with the film 'Bobby'. Of late the concept has gained tremendous momentum, mainly because of the emergence of the multiplex culture, new age directors, improved production quality and increased professionalism in film making and marketing."
Explaining the brand synergy, Bhutiani said, "Earlier, in-film branding was merely brand placement. However, advertisers are now looking at in-film branding for more than just a presence. They expect the brand to naturally weave in with the story. Just being there in the film is not good enough, there has to be a thematic connect."
How does one come to a fix on the rate that an in-film branding costs? Bhutiani explained that the star cast, the director's status and his fee, the script, brand role and the brand interaction level with the audience in a movie are some of the factors that influence the payout for such initiatives.
"The cost for in-film branding is as low as 1% or 2% in comparison to the same exposure in the conventional advertising media, such as print and television," disclosed Johnny Oommen, National Marketing Manager, General Motors. "Tasteful crafting of the message and a proper brand-fit are crucial aspects."
'Khushi' and 'Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega' were two in-film initiatives by GM for their Corsa Swing and Opel Astra. "This medium gives a better simulation environment and for longer duration than other media," said Oommen.
Anyway, next time when you watch 'Matrix Reloaded' and the car chase sequence on the futuristic highways where Trinity's Cadillac CTS takes at least 50 bullets a second as it slaloms at high speed, don't forget to ask yourself if he could have done it without his Cadillac CTS?