Showtime before the film
Showtime before the film
 14 May 2015

The studios are using innovative marketing and promotion tools to draw audiences in for a spate of new releases

To say that marketing makes the movie would be a cliche for the times we live in. But three recent films show how big studios have honed it to an art. By using their vast network across different media and sharply targeting promotional content, they have got the box office humming. Gabbar is back made Rs 74 crore, Piku, Rs 35 crore and Bombay Velvet (releasing today) is expected to raise big numbers too by showing in over 3,000 screens in India and 500 to 700 screens abroad.

The films have been promoted using multiple media platforms; the studios reaching out to a wide net by launching a blitzkrieg of sorts. While Viacom18 Motion Pictures' brought to life the power of visual mnemonics with Gabbar is back, both Piku and Bombay Velvet have used their digital and broadcast partnerships to the hilt. For Gabbar, Viacom18 created a distinct look that was used on posters that were plastered on taxi cabs, branded tags were inserted on LPG cylinders and in dabbas delivered by Mumbai's dabbawalas.

  "With Bombay Velvet, we have been conscious to go the untrodden path. The film has a unique positioning. While on the one hand, with Ranbir and Anushka, it has a very distinct youth appeal, the content as such, may appeal more to a mature audience," says Shikha Kapoor, chief marketing officer, Fox Star Studios. It did not begin well for Bombay Velvet, however. The movie mounted at around Rs 115-120 crore (including prints and marketing) had mixed reviews for its first trailer. The digital audiences trashed it and there was also some negative press. But the studio is not worried. Kapoor says that the whole team knew that the first trailer should be treated as a conditioning 'unit' and it was followed up with targeted initiatives on the digital medium.

"We knew the risks and we knew what we had to do. A large part, almost 80 per cent, of the TG that would see this film is on mobile, and we focussed on that medium. Right from the first song launch on digital platforms to the Bombay Velvet Club on hotstar and the Facebook retro filter, we have kept an aggressive stance for mobile. Of course we have supplemented this with the usual TV spots and appearances, but we have not gone all-out on that front," adds Kapoor. Viacom18 applied a similar logic for Queen where a digital first strategy was applied to reach its target group. Bombay Velvet is the first time a mobile first strategy has been applied on such a large scale.


A joint venture between Fox International and Star India, Fox Star has the advantage of Star India's massive television reach and now with its app hotstar, also digital spread. According to the ratings agency under the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), the network's flagship GEC clocked 171 million viewers for the week between May 2 and May 8 in the Hindi speaking market. The hotstar app on the other hand already has over 15 million downloads since its launch on February 1. Bombay Velvet therefore, quite understandably, launched its campaign with Ranbir Kapoor donning the commentator's hat during one of the India matches in the ICC World Cup on hotstar. It followed up with a song launch and an exclusive episode of Koffee with Karan with Anushka Sharma and Ranbir Kapoor on the app.

Using the network's broadcast synergies is something that Multi Screen Media (MSM) Motion Pictures did with Piku as well. The lead cast promoted the movie through a TV spot around Extraa Innings, the pre and post match show on the Sony channels during the ongoing Pepsi Indian Premier League. MSM runs channels like Sony Entertainment Television (SET), Sony Max and Sab TV among others. "With Piku, we knew that the strength lay in the characters which are very real and relatable. So we wove those insights into the TV spots - for the Extraa Innings bit for example, we had the father daughter duo played by Amitji and Deepika interact in their trademark fashion while Khan gets irked", says Vivek Krishnani, senior vice president, marketing and revenue, MSM Motion Pictures. Bachchcan and Padukone have also shot a commercial for the network's English movie channel Sony Pix's property Pixathon. The two, in keeping with their movie personalities, are seen arguing over what movies should be lined up for the property, with Bachchan ultimately giving in to Padukone's wish.

Apart from the seamless integration that this offers, using network synergies also cuts marketing costs. Shikha Kapoor agrees, "It definitely makes a difference. No film can advertise on a GEC for more than a week given the ad-rates. Having network synergies gives you the benefit of reach and a significant scope to curtail costs." Estimates peg this saving at up to Rs 15 crore, depending on the scale of the movie. For Piku, there was an attempt to make the movie more relevant to its audience through in-film brand placements too, which "were woven into the script such that the audience sees these brands as part of a family's routine," says Krishnani. The audience seems to be happy to oblige.

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