Decoding the Indian film mktg formula - more of the same

If one compares the dynamics of films in India with the rest of the world, Indian film marketers come off as formulaic approach-oriented, who shy away from experimenting like their Western counterparts

e4m by Manasa Mantha
Updated: Jan 24, 2014 8:03 AM
Decoding the Indian film mktg formula - more of the same

Given the stiff competition, short box office life and the race to enter the Rs 100-crore club, film marketing and promotion has become an integral part of any new movie release. In fact, film promotion budgets have gone up manifold, sometimes even exceeding the film production budgets.

However, when one analyses the activities surrounding film promotions in India, a standard formula emerges. Almost every single film promotion includes one or all of the following:
• A token appearance on reality shows
• Appearance on a popular daily show
• City visits with a small press conference
• A ‘meet & greet’ with the stars at public places.

No one is really pushing the envelope in terms of doing something ‘hatke’ in terms of promoting their film.

The West, notably Hollywood, has been miles ahead in innovative way of promoting a film. A recent example is the ‘Devil Baby Attack’ viral campaign that has taken the internet by storm. The ‘Devil baby Attack’ viral is a brilliantly thought out promotion that Thinkmodo came up with for the movie ‘Devil’s Due’. Armed with a surprisingly realistic animatronic baby in a stroller that was controlled from a van with hidden cameras, it caught the expressions of curious, startled and scared onlookers when they were subjected to the antics of the supposed devil's spawn. The video has clocked over 35 million views so far.

Watch the Devil Baby Attack video here...

Thinkmodo also created a ‘hair rising experience’ for all those who were bold enough to be part of the promotions of the American supernatural horror film ‘Carrie’.

Watch the Carrie – Telekinetic coffee shop surprise video here...

On why Indian films follow a ‘formulaic approach’ to promotions, Aditya Bhat, Founder and Creative Thinker, Business of Ideas explained, “We only get what we deserve. With our slightly under-developed sense of humour and our over moral policing, we do kill any hope for a marketer to openly come and experiment with the promotional campaigns. It is a fact that certain ideas are not possible to work in an Indian setting, but then blindly following a formula is also difficult to work with. Eventually, we have to bow to the pressures of the industry and deliver what the audience will accept – except it is us only who created that expectation level for them.”

He further said, “Unless we set an example and do something different without bowing to any pressure, such viral campaigns will emerge and end in the West and our lives will go on as usual here.”

On a different note, Harshil Karia, Online Strategist & Co-founder, FoxyMoron observed, “I think Indian audiences are ready for such promotional campaigns. It’s just a matter of creating an experiment and working on it. Typically, these sort of unconventional campaigns take more time and a slightly more creative approach to budgeting – not necessarily more budgets.”

In showcasing an interesting story, innovative marketing is possible where time is the key factor and RoI has to be looked at from the funnel beyond traditional methods of ‘reach’ and ‘PR value’ of newspaper coverage, and includes focus on ‘word of mouth’ as well.

There have been some exceptions in Bollywood. One may recall Aamir Khan with the ‘buzz cut’ campaign, where all the ushers at a particular cinema hall, where his movie ‘Ghajini’ was screening, sported the same look as him in the film. Aamir Khan also toured in disguise to promote his film ‘3 Idiots’.

While the new breed of Indian film makers have started experimenting more with storylines, production and direction, the same kind of experimentation in film promotion is yet to be seen.

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