The true future of brand placement lies beyond the film: Harikrishnan Pillai

Harikrishnan Pillai, CEO & Co-founder, TheSmallBigIdea, shares his top learnings from 2019 and his movie marketing predictions for 2020

e4m by Shreshtha Verma
Updated: Jan 14, 2020 9:14 AM
Harikrishnan Pillai

The movie experience is at an interesting cusp. Larger than life heroes and good looking cinema is fighting with great stories & powerful performances. As the thirst to explore increases amongst the Indian movie-goers, Hollywood finds a new playfield in one of the largest movie-watching nations in the world. Similarly, regional cinema is finding fans from across the country. From hair loss promotions of Bala to train wraps for Houseful 4, this year Bollywood has witnessed whole new trends of movie marketing.

In a chat with exchange Harikrishnan Pillai, CEO and Co-founder, TheSmallBigIdea, shares his top learnings from 2019 and predictions for 2020. Having worked on the marketing of some of the biggest films of this year, from Good Newwz to Bala to Dream Girl, Pillai himself has been a direct part of several successful movie marketing campaigns in 2019.   “While content takes these exciting avatars, the delivery has moved beyond being a just a visual or audio delight, with efforts to involve all 5 senses coming into being,” asserted Pillai.

Forming relevant cohorts & setting messaging with context

Cohorts are often confused with general demographics that are typically used to segment the market; however, Pillai said that cohorts play an important role in setting a message with context. “We are seeing cohorts as a valuable device to precisely identify and build a segment that is likely to provide a better ROI,” revealed Pillai. 

While talking about cohorts, he explained, "From parameters like fans of the actor, fans of the genre, booking behaviour, etc., a solid combination of robust cohorts, relevant messaging and targeting can drive great marketing ROI. Films will no longer be promoted to everyone on the back of a few dialogues or an item song. The most relevant aspect of the film will be exposed to the cohort that resonates with it".

The rise of the production houses, studios & creators universe

According to Pillai, movie marketing has become a big deal for movie makers. “We are seeing a rise of studios, directors and production houses carving a niche for them and owning a genre of films.  With changing dynamics of the entertainment industry, people are rallying to see films from production/creative machinery and not just for the actors."

He added, "Production houses are cognizant of that fact and they should be looking to create a universe for characters & stories that they have given birth to. Production houses and creators will hence have a job cut out for them to be relevant beyond the time of the release of the films.  He believes that the rise of the production houses, studios and creators will also boost the making of the Indian version of the Marvel or the Scorsese Universe".

The four new pillars of collaborative marketing: products-films-actors-platforms

Furthermore, he also talked about the four new pillars of collaborative marketing- Products, Films, Actors & Platforms. “These emerging pillars will find a better way to leverage each other brand prowess, shared Pillai. The true future of brand placement lies beyond the film. The digital space will throw in opportunities for filmmakers to create content surrounding the film for the audience to understand the movie before they see it, through economies derived from its brand and platform associations. Storytelling will be seamless and monies will be put to good use by the 4 by collaborating creatively," he elucidated.

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