What’s common between the two recently released Hindi flims - Khakee and Ek Hasina Thi? Besides the fact that the two movies have fared well at the box office, Hindi news channels, Aaj Tak and Star News have been prominently promoted in the films.
So it is not just cars, cell phones and other consumer products that are getting into in-film placements, but news channels are also finding the big screen a good option to gain brand visibility.
Mr G. Krishnan, CEO, TV Today, said, "The producers of Khakee were looking for credibility of news in the film and found Aaj Tak the ideal choice. Hence our channel was used extensively in the film, enhancing our visibility." A Star India spokesperson added that the producers of Ek Hasina Thi had approached the channel for a brand association but unlike other commercial deals there was really no payment involved. "It was a free brand-building exercise," he said.
Other news channels are also excited about the option of doing in-film placements. Mr Raj Nayak, Chief Executive, NDTV Media, said, "We at NDTV get a lot of requests from producers to be associated with us. Firstly, we would not pay to be part of a film and secondly, we want to be absolutely sure that the story of the film, its creative treatment and the reputation of the film-maker is in line with NDTV's brand values before we lend our name."
According to industry analysts, there could be benefits of in-film and in-programme advertising, provided it is done subtly and is woven well with the script. Of late, the number of in-film placements have gone up with Café Coffee Day tying up with Khakee, Tata Tea, ICICI and Ford were present in the Amitabh Bachchan-Hema Malini starrer, Baghban and Yahoo was associated with Rajshri Productions' Main Prem Ki Dewaani Hoon, among several others.
"The benchmark in the film industry nowadays is to recover about 15 per cent of the product cost from in-film placements. However, the deals with the news channels could be cashless with the film being promoted extensively on the television channel," said Mr Atul Phadnis, Director, S-Group, TAM India.
The competition in the Rs 350-crore television news channels is hotting up with the launch of specialist news channels such as a Hindi business news channel or regional language news channels. Hence, there is pressure on creating distinct brand identities and differentiating channels from each other, he added.