Mumbai: When Dostana, a Hindi movie by Karan Johar, hits the screens on 14 November, it will have a real life fashion magazine in a stellar role.
In the film, actress Priyanka Chopra plays a staffer of Verve, a magazine published out of Mumbai by Indian and Eastern Engineer Co. Pvt. Ltd that also brings out Man’s World and Rolling Stone magazines in India.
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In the footsteps of the 2006 blockbuster, The Devil Wears Prada, that had Meryl Streep playing an editor of a fashion magazine with Anne Hathaway as her executive assistant, Dostana tries to recreate the buzz of a real magazine office with detailing such as original design plates, sexed-up office settings and even coffee mugs with Verve written on them.
However, unlike the Hollywood movie, Dostana goes a step forward and associates with Verve—a fashion and lifestyle magazine that has been around for 13 years—which lends authenticity to the storyline, albeit with the trademark Bollywood exaggeration.
“We wanted to work with a real magazine, which brought authenticity to the movie, rather than with some random, fictitious title like Beauty,” says Arun Nair, head of marketing at Dharma Productions Pvt. Ltd that produced the movie.
The company approached other magazines, such as Vogue and Marie Claire, before zeroing in on Verve.
Gloss and glamour: It’s placement in ”Dostana” could help the Verve magazine to push its circulation and ad revenues, say experts.
“They had recently undergone a re-branding exercise and were also looking to launch an international edition around the time of the film’s release in November 2008,” says Nair.
This perhaps marks the beginning of a trend where marketers and film-makers move from plain vanilla deals that toss brands into a script to ones that are integrated seamlessly into the story.
“The film, through the reach of Bollywood, will be our ambassador abroad,” says Verve’s editorial director Parmesh Shahani. “And in many ways, our ambassador here as well.”
The magazine, on its part, has taken the deal a notch further, with its November issue dubbed as a Dostana special. It has at least 40 pages devoted to the subject, including the magazine cover inspired by the Karan Johar film, interviews with Chopra, director Tarun Mansukhani, fashion shoots on film sets in Miami and at Film City in Goregaon, and fashion and beauty features inspired by the Dostana theme. The film also gets a special mention in the editor’s column.
No surprise then that a number of media brands are looking to Bollywood to promote their brand and generate interesting content. The September issue of Vogue features Chopra on the cover, with an interview on the sets of Madhur Bhandarkar’s film Fashion.
“Our aim is to make the best of international and Indian fashion easily accessible to our readers, and in that sense Bollywood stars have emerged as a single unifying catalyst,” says Priya Tanna, editor of Vogue India published by Conde Nast India Pvt. Ltd. “Their reach and glamour makes them a great association and fit for any glossy.”
Interestingly, the photo shoot with Vogue India as well as the magazine are featured in the movie, offering instant recall for the brand.
“From the perspective of speciality magazines, you have a particular set of target advertisers,” says Smita Jha, associate director of entertainment and media practice at consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. “The question, quite simply, is how do you extract funds from these advertisers.”
Jha points out that for niche magazines in India, there is limited differentiation. So, there is a need to cut across the clutter and be perceived as a good brand to associate with.
This is important when up to 90% of a fashion or lifestyle magazine’s revenues come from advertising. Subscription and circulation account for less than 20% of revenue in most cases.
Verve placement in Dostana could help it push circulation and ad revenues, say experts.
“There was a point when socialites would say they only watch English movies. But, things have changed today. Bollywood has now acquired the cool quotient,” says Navin Shah, chief operating officer of marketing firm P9 Integrated Pvt. Ltd, mapping the transition of traditional Bollywood productions to ones that dazzle with big brands, high fashion and slick production quality.
“In terms of visibility for the brand, this one film and its stars will do for Verve what five years of advertising may not be able to achieve.”
“It’s largely a perception game,” says Chandradeep Mitra, president of Mudra Max, the Mumbai-based specialist media arm of the Mudra Group. “How do you convince advertisers that you actually have the size and quality of readership you claim you have, without any certified figures? How do you justify high ad rates?”
India’s Audit Bureau of Circulations does not certify the circulation of fashion and lifestyle magazines as few brands are willing to put their circulation figures under the scanner.
Moreover, small and niche magazines rarely get covered by the Indian Readership Survey, which means most media spending in such magazines is based on perception.
Verve claims a print run of 80,000 copies per issue and charges Rs2 lakh for a full page advertisement. Vogue says its print run in India is 50,000 copies and it charges Rs4 lakh for premium page ad.
According to Shah, a brand integration such as this would cost between Rs20 lakh and Rs50 lakh. He says it is a win-win situation: The production house gets to monetize an aspect of the film and add authenticity to the storyline, and the brand gets to reach out to a large target audience and be associated with Bollywood stars.