From the brightly painted posters of a movie at the time of its release to the multi-media promotion of a movie well before its launch – movie marketing in India has come a long way. Be it cases like 'Hum Tum', where the movie was marketed in the form of content across mediums, or 'Rang De Basanti', where 40 per cent of the movie's budget was spent on its marketing, savvy marketing of movies is gaining ground. and according to experts, this is only the beginning.
An undeniable aspect in movie marketing is that the spends have gone up dramatically. Industry players cite different reasons for this. Ravi Gupta, CEO, Mukta Arts, said, "Mainly two reasons – there are many more channels to market a movie today and then there is the availability of research that you didn't have earlier. Since you can get feedback and know what is working, you are able to identify your market and reach your target. You can better plan your media. In doing so, we have seen that there are both conventional and non-conventional mediums that you can't ignore today."
UTV Motion Picture's Marketing Head, Siddharth Kapur, added another point here. He said, "Spends in past campaigns would tend to be solely from the producer/distributor's pocket, without the benefit of brand tie-ups to take the buzz on the film to new levels. The trend of brands associating with movies on co-branding and promotions is a relatively recent one. On both 'Rang De basanti' and 'Taxi No 9211', we had a substantial marketing budget, which was strongly supplemented by our promotional partners, thereby enabling these films to generate a tremendous level of awareness through innovative and brand-relevant communication across multiple mediums."
Agreeing with him, Yashraj Production's Marketing Head, Tarun Tripathi had another point to ponder upon. "In the last five years, non-traditional media houses have opened up. But the fact that a producer can spend more doesn't really mean that he has to. When you say, you have spent so many crores, it isn't really something to be proud of. What really matters is how we spend the money," he insisted.
Elaborating further, Tripathi said, "Rather than bombarding messages, you have to maximise the impact of every message. Simply put, a message simply flashing on a mobile screen is vanilla, but the moment there is an element of interactivity in it, you have optimised the investment you made in the medium."
A point that Mukta Arts' Gupta seconded. "Marketing surely has to translate into driving more people to the theatre on that first critical weekend. Today, with the change in speed of operations, a major campaign can be launched in a matter of days, but in such a situation, factors from the ability of differentiate your radio message from the TV to the spread of your costs and what media you buy – all becomes critical," he said.
Another change that has come in the role of movie marketing is the fact that it has to deliver for the banner both in the pre- and post-launch phases. "Marketing is the key in ensuring that a film is able to communicate its core theme to potential viewers in an engaging way. It sets up the expectation levels of the audience with regard to what sort of film they can expect when they enter the auditorium, and is primarily responsible for the opening the film garners. Post release, the objective of marketing is to ensure the film remains fresh in the minds of audiences as long as possible and to build on audience reactions to the film by adapting the PR and media plan accordingly," said Kapur.
Gupta opined on the same lines, but Tripathi had a slight difference of opinion here. "In its true sense, marketing is all about the launch. The 'Hum Tum' comic strips were stopped on the day of the launch of the movie. Once the movie is successful, communication then rides on the success of the movie than the other way round," he said.
Tripathi further said, "The basic job is to optimise revenues from all streams. Before release, movie makes money from associations, in-film placements and so on, and once it releases, it is about DVDs, downloads, televisions rights. But the second half is pretty much dependent on the success of the movie. So really, marketing is all about the launch."
Is the phenomenon seen only in the big banners or is it seen across the Indian film industry? Kapur replied, "The Indian film industry has definitely woken up to the importance of marketing in driving the business, however, it is still looked at by many as an additional expense rather than an investment like the cost of production. We need to reach a stage like in the case of 'Rang De Basanti', where the total marketing budget including all brand associations, was close to 40 per cent of the overall cost. It is only when this 'investment' versus 'expense' mindset is established that we can say that movie marketing has really arrived."
"Well, there are fewer and fewer independent films. If you see, top 15 are from some or the other organised player, which together form 80 per cent of the market. So, there isn't really many 'unorganised' players in any case who could bring more science in their operations," Tripathi pointed out.