Bollywood banks on technology, social media to woo consumers

Digital marketing, gamification and in-film product placements emerge as top trends in film marketing in 2014

e4m by Manasa Mantha
Published: Mar 5, 2014 8:42 AM  | 6 min read
Bollywood banks on technology, social media to woo consumers

Much is being said and written about the sea change that has come over the Indian film Industry in the past 100 years. From the era of silent talkies, to films now being produced with super surround sound tracks – Indian film-makers have come a long way with regard to creating engaging and enjoyable content for the masses.

More interesting, however, is the way these films are now being handled with respect to promotions and marketing – sometimes kicking off months before their release. Gone are the days when a few hand-painted posters turned up around the city announcing the release of a new film – and everyone lined up to watch it. With the evolving technology and more personal entertainment options to choose from, film-makers have to come up with more creative pitches to woo their target consumers.

With films now vying to enter the coveted ‘100 crore’ or ‘200 crore’ clubs, monies are most important in the current day and age. This was quite evident with ‘Dhoom 3’ and ‘Chennai Express’ – the biggest films of 2013 – raking in around Rs 400 crore collectively. This, however, still means that content has to justify the monies earned.

Marketing such films therefore is an extremely important and structured process. In this digital age, every film-maker has to be connected to the audience at a deeper level, and social networking sites make this task easier. With stars taking to Twitter to ‘tweet’ their every move, sharing images and videos of the film in the making, and first looks being opened online, the pulse of the masses can be caught weeks before the actual on-ground release. This also allows for changes to be made to get the most of all the attention being generated.

Thus, with film-makers getting bolder over the past few years and making courageous films that the audiences like, the job of film marketers is becoming increasingly challenging. However, films in general follow a few set promotional tactics – a meet & greet with the stars at a public outing, a few appearances on TV shows and some online buzz.

In 2014, however, three trends have begun to slowly emerge and make their way to becoming the best possible marketing tactics – something that will last a long time, make a good impression and earn the monies.

Internet is God
Going completely digital with marketing is the way to go now – with the number of screens a person deals with increasing, targeting the consumers is now faster. Films are releasing the first looks, trailers and special ‘making edits’ online weeks before they are released. This trend helps in four ways – the audience can be measured in terms of how many people are eagerly awaiting the release; what is the general audience feeling about the look and feel of the film; will it be a success or failure; and chances to redeem mistakes.

Marketers understand that gaining audiences and creating a pull rather than pushing the product onto the consumer would make more sense. Thus films like ‘Shaadi ke Side Effects’ and ‘Highway’ released songs, trailers and first looks towards the end of 2013 itself – while the post production was still on. Even ‘Holiday’, a film releasing only in the second half of 2014, already has a strong buzz with people taking to Twitter to talk about the film and its first look.

Twitter, Facebook and YouTube – the three pillars of the current generation – will be used aggressively and effectively thereby ensuring increased consumers of films.

‘Gunday’, for instance, a YRF film released in February 2014, saw Priyanka Chopra tweet live from the colleges where she was promoting the film – thanks to the information overload period that we’re living in, it created enough buzz for the film to have a decent opening weekend, never mind the content.

The process of creating successful spin-off games (or apps) based on films presents a repeatable, reliable framework for increasing marketing results. Thanks to the success of the ‘Chennai Express’ and ‘Dhoom 3’ games, 2014 is expected to see the convergence of marketing and gaming. Marketing will thus become more interactive in how it is deployed and consumed and will help to increase content movement through its entertainment value, reward and learning abilities.

Apps and games based on the films, again come back to the previous ‘Internet is God’ rule. This also goes to show that today, with people engaging more online than in real-time, moving content across to them is much easier than doing it physically.

A big reason why these two trends will go a long way – the spends are minimal, with digital costs sometimes being less than 1 per cent of the actual marketing budget, but the results produced are phenomenally high – perhaps even 500 times the original amounts spent. This helps in reducing the budgets or even sometimes allocating more to the medium to engage consumers better.
For the stars – it just means more presence, and thus more airtime – irrespective of their status.

In-film Product Placements
This is the fastest way for film-makers to avoid legal entanglements with respect to the way products are shown in films – avoiding ‘blurring’ them and saying something untoward about them. But most importantly, these make up for the most monies earned even before the film’s release – thus easing the producer’s load and creating an open space for the marketer to promote the film on a broader platform with a wider reach. Krrish-3 is possibly the biggest example of this.

Brands require airtime – they then require star power to justify that airtime – anything to be in the audiences’ scope of vision is worth it. Thus associating with a film gives brands their necessary airtime and a celebrity endorser in one go. These mutual admiration societies that films and brands create give marketers a good reach of audiences and airtime – making it a win-win situation for all.

Advertiser Funded Properties (AFPs) will also see a rise, with the onslaught of ‘content-heavy’ films in comparison with ‘star power’ films – thus giving GEC channels more reason to create episodic spinoffs around the film – with the advertisers’ products or the subject forming the crux of the shows.

Film marketing campaigns will continue to follow the tried and tested routes as well – but more and more marketers are pushing to make these trends more popular – as they reach the audiences fastest.

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