Social media emerges as new marketing tool for multiplex films such as ‘Phillauri’

‘Phillauri’ is not the first film to try and encash on the huge opportunity that new media provides for penetration and deeper interactions with the customer


‘Phillauri’ starring Anushka Sharma has launched a campaign called #ShashiWasThere.
‘Phillauri’ starring Anushka Sharma has launched a campaign called #ShashiWasThere.

New Delhi: To kick start marketing for its late March release Phillauri, co-producer Fox Star Studios has decided to take to social media.

For the film starring Anushka Sharma, it launched a campaign called #ShashiWasThere, which involves a social listening exercise where activities of nearly 10,000 users on networks like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook have been tracked and shortlisted over a period of six months.

These include only posts related to weddings since the narrative of the film revolves around a chaotic Punjabi wedding.

Social listening is an insight which a lot of brands and marketers use to gauge online conversation and chatter, understand what’s working and what’s not and then monitor and tweak strategies, Fox emphasized.

Further, close-up pictures of lead actor Anushka Sharma, who plays a ghost in the film, have been superimposed on these selected posts to build on the characteristic traits of a spirit—being invisible and omnipresent.

The romantic comedy directed by Anshai Lal also has a special WhatsApp number registered for Sharma to interact with fans via the video-calling feature. “The idea is to take the USP of the film, which is the fact that Anushka is playing a ghost, and play that up. You can do as much on promos, but it’s not something that can be played up by direct interactions,” said Shikha Kapur, chief marketing officer, Fox Star Studios. “But here, we’ve tried to integrate it into the campaign and not necessarily use it with the lens of just listening to reactions, but to build a sense of engagement, euphoria and interest around the fact that she is a ghost,” Kapur said.

To be sure, Phillauri is not the first film to try and encash on the huge opportunity that new media provides for penetration and deeper interactions with the customer as opposed to simple reach that traditional media creates, said Saurabh Uboweja, Brand Guru, and chief executive officer, Brands of Desire.

Awareness for Fox’s own critically-acclaimed drama Neerja released last year was built through a hashtag campaign called #fearvsNeerja on Instagram where users were invited to share their personal accounts of heroic effort and courage, a concert in association with Facebook only available online and special emoticons launched in collaboration with Twitter.

More recently, Aamir Khan’s Christmas blockbuster Dangal had notched up over 36 million views for its “Fat to Fit” video, detailing Khan’s weight gain and loss to play the real-life wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat.

“It’s been pretty well-established that there is a very strong correlation between the social buzz for a film and how it does at the box office,” said Anand Chakravarthy, managing partner at Maxus India, a GroupM India company. “The fact is that if there is enough social buzz and conversation around a film, and if these are largely positive, then a lot of people end up wanting to watch the film on the first weekend which in today’s day and age, fundamentally makes or breaks the movie. To my mind, any film worth its stake will have to do a digital and social campaign.”

Typically, films spend the largest amount of marketing money in running promos, followed by outdoor, print and radio.

Industry experts maintain that at the end of the day, at less than 20%, the money spent on social media may currently not be as high as that spent on television and these strategies still have to be used as part of a broader mix but the platforms do manage to create critical engagement and personalized relationships, especially for smaller brands and films.

“It really depends on the genre of the film. A multiplex film like Ki&Ka, for example, will spend more money on digital than traditional media, around 15-18% of its overall spend. But a mass film like Dangal or Sultan will spend more on traditional media because in terms of screen count, they are targeting the smaller cities as well,” Chakravarthy pointed out.

However, since Dangal or Sultan’s individual budgets would also be much higher, even at 8-10%, the absolute numbers for digital would be very high.

“I think social will slowly get into the top three media used by any production house because it plays the perfect role in creating engagement and conversation. And that’s what a film requires,” Chakravarthy said.

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