Mumbai: Early this month, a 7,000- strong crowd gathered in the backlot of Select Citywalk Mall in New Delhi for a concert featuring Magik, the fictitious band from the Bollywood film Rock On!!
The event, different from the traditional celebrity-laden Bollywood promos, was a hit with the audiences that had gathered there to see actors Farhan Akhtar, Arjun Rampal, Purab Kohli and Luke Kenny perform live, backed by musicians Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy.
The idea was to engage and “interact with audiences through a different platform”, says Ritesh Sidhwani, co-founder of Excel Entertainment Pvt. Ltd, which co-produced Rock On!! “A star cast is not enough to market a film any more...you have to think out of the box.”
A growing number of film-makers are looking at investing in innovative film marketing to cut across the clutter and grab consumer attention in an increasingly competitive movie business.
Engaging viewers: Luke Kenny (left) and Arjun Rampal, part of the fictitious band Magik from the film Rock On!!, at a concert organized by Excel Entertainment, that produced the film, in the Capital on 6 September.
No surprise then that the production house also commissioned a Rs25 lakh music video for the track Pichle Saat Dino Mein... as a part of their Rs4.5 crore marketing and promotion budget for the film.
Ram Gopal Varma’s horror film about black magic, Phoonk, offered a cash prize of Rs5 lakh to anyone who dared to watch the movie alone in a theatre.
UTV Entertainment Network offered viewers a chance to get married on a grandiose set of the film Jodhaa Akbar, if they won a contest that was run during the television premiere of the movie. Jannat, a film about cricket match fixing, was promoted aggressively by actor Emraan Hashmi at the Indian Premier League matches this year.
Experts maintain that innovative film marketing is linked to Bollywood becoming more organized. Big-budget films such as Jodhaa Akbar, which could open with 1,200-1,500 prints in the market, adopt a strategy of trying to reap maximum box office collections during the first weekend, which determines the fate of a movie.
Smaller-budget films, however, have to stand out to score in an extremely cluttered market that has three, or four releases every week. Both scenarios call for smart strategy, say experts.
“Film-makers need to have a differentiator,” says Navin Shah, chief executive, film marketing firm P9 Integrated Pvt. Ltd. “There is no such thing as a clean window for release any more…so you have to create excitement around the film and a sense of urgency, which will drive audiences to theatres.”
Beyond the economics, film-makers also have to battle other factors such as the sheer number of releases and the fragmentation of media.
According to Sunil Doshi, chief executive, Alliance Media and Entertainment Pvt. Ltd, 1,145 films were approved by Indian censors in 2007.
Adding to this number are about 250-300 simultaneous releases of Hollywood movies in India and a small percentage of world cinema.
“When you have to cut across all that clutter, it’s really about who’s shouting the loudest,” Doshi says about film advertising and marketing spends. “So, I wouldn’t be surprised if people start relying on more innovative ways to reach their target audience.”
“Maybe a Bhojpuri film will use the Kumbh Mela!” he adds.