‘Chak De! India’, a movie on hockey loosely based on the life of former hockey player Mir Ranjan Negi and starring Shah Rukh Khan, is arguably one of the most popular movies of 2007 so far. The beginning of the movie sees the media fallaciously making charges against the Indian hockey captain after India loses to Pakistan in a hockey World Cup final match.
While several media entities are shown during these scenes that make the media look not only sensationalising news but also being inaccurate and irresponsible, including The Times of India, the most seen news channel in these scenes is Aaj Tak. The association was to the extent that not only were Aaj Tak mikes, channel ID and sign off was used, but even an Aaj Tak presenter was seen on the channel.
The other associations were that of ESPN, wherein ESPN was seen as the key commentator during the final hockey World Cup matches, and the channel also promoted ‘Chak De! India’ during the India-England cricket series. Also seen in the movie were McDonald’s, Puma and UltraTech.
Media professionals had different views to offer when asked whether the placement of Aaj Tak would have brought any brand benefits to the channel.
Dinesh Rathode, GM India of Future Works, a unit of Starcom Worldwide, said, “How fair is media to anyone anyways? I think that really was seen in these parts of the movie and it could have be any channel here, but it was Aaj Tak and I don’t think this was the best of things to happen to the channel. In comparison to this, some of the other brand placements were better like ESPN’s for instance. Brand placement should not just be about being on a channel – you have to at least be in the right place, at the right time.”
MindShare’s MD, South and West, R Gowthaman, said, “It could’ve been any channel there. News channels have been associating with movies for a very long time now. I don’t think this placement would’ve brought any negative impact on Aaj Tak. I don’t think anyone would’ve taken it in that spirit – people would’ve just seen those scenes for the story there rather than thinking negatively of the brand there.”
Media Direction’s VP and Communications Partner, Kunal Jamuar, commented, “Aaj Tak was driven by the negative elements of the movie and the scenes where news channels were shown as sensationalists and inaccurate. This association would’ve been harmful for them not only as a channel, but also for the news genre as a whole. Some good examples of how news channels can partner with movies are NDTV’s role in ‘Rang De Basanti’, or for that matter even Aaj Tak in ‘Dhoom’.”
BroadMind’s Rajiv Berry said, “The scenes on Kabir Khan (the character played by SRK) being anti-national don’t show news channels in the right light, and Aaj Tak being there cannot possibly mean positive publicity -- what is the reason for being there in the first place then? In comparison, ESPN was done very well, where the relation between the movie and ESPN was also seen in ‘Chak De! India’ being promoted on the India-England series on STAR Cricket. That was a good fit which was a win-win for both channels.”
TME’s VP Divya Radhakrishnan was of the opinion that the news channel’s placement on those scenes was a bad judgement. She said, “I don’t think the channel assessed very well on where it was placed. The bigger tragedy, however, is that media channels in movies are becoming a blind spot because of the lack of the creative fusion. If you are utilising a medium, would you not want the brand to be able to bring out brand characters? Is it really brand integration if you are just placed in a movie?”
Sundar Raman, MindShare, MD, North and East counter-argued, “This is the state of what television journalism in India anyway is. Associations like these also depend on what the marketing objective is. If the marketing objective is visibility, then just being there is good enough. A passive placement is of not much value of course. However, the way I see it, Aaj Tak’s placement may not have added to the brand, but it surely didn’t degrade the brand in any way either. I don’t think that is how a viewer takes in these messages.”