Mumbai: When Elder Health Care Ltd launched its deodorant Fuel a few months ago, it had its work cut out. The new brand was going up against well-established category leader Axe, and had to create enough of an impression to appeal not just to new consumers but also to retailers.
So, Elder started with the basics: a saucy television commercial of the kind that have become the norm for deodorant; and an endorsement by two of the hottest actors in Bollywood, Kareena Kapoor and Akshay Kumar, in a separate film promotion.
The film connection ensured that Elder got its product into stores.
Brand ambassadors: Actors Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone talk about the making of Love Aaj Kal during a special 30-minute Bajaj Allianz sponsored programme, which ran on NDTV Imagine.
While an endorsement by Bollywood’s best will typically cost a company Rs5 crore, Elder managed to get Kapoor and Kumar for much less through a tie-up to promote the film Kambakkht Ishq, which came with an implied endorsement by the film’s lead actors.
“We knew that the film was going to be big. It was launching after the film strike and was likely to get a lot of publicity with its international cast featuring Sylvester Stallone and Denise Richards,” said Anuj Saxena, managing director, Elder Health Care, which paid Rs1 crore to be associated with the film. The brand has now given its agency the mandate to tie up with up to five films in the run-up till December.
While in-film product placements and tie-ups in the form of branded entertainment (or paid-for or sponsored content) have long been staples in movies, experts say there has been a marked rise in interest from advertisers. Not only is branded entertainment considered a cost-effective way to reach audiences, it has become even more attractive with cash-strapped film-makers willing to go that extra mile. “What we are seeing is that film-makers are not averse to exploring new avenues… Instead of sitting across the table and asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’ they are willing to ideate with us and come up with creative solutions,” said Navin Shah, chief executive, P9 Integrated Pvt. Ltd.
Thus, Imtiaz Ali’s film Love Aaj Kal featuring Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone had insurance brand Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance Co. Ltd as a partner. While the brand didn’t make an appearance in the film, there were joint promotions on television, set against the insurance firm’s signature track.
Typically, such joint promotions on television have edited clips from a song in the film, which ends with a shot of the associating brand.
The deal also involved a 30-minute programme where both the actors talked about the film against a backdrop branded with the Bajaj Allianz logo. The show ran on NDTV Imagine.
“It really was about achieving our goals with much less money in the pocket,” said Akshay Mehrotra, head, marketing and corporate communications, Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance. While no money exchanged hands, the film received media exposure to the tune of Rs1 crore through the association. And the insurance firm was able to get more bang for its buck, as advertisement rates for such promotions on television channels are substantially lower than usual advertisement rates. Then, there was the implied endorsement by two Bollywood A-listers.
A few advertisers are also beginning to look at branded entertainment as a way to support their brand ambassadors. Not only does this reinforce the connect between the brand and the star, it also proves to be a fairly attractive deal at a time when advertising budgets are tight. “What we have done is include a clause in the client’s contract which obliges the brand to commit a certain amount of money to their films as well. So, if a star was being paid X for a brand endorsement, he will now be assured an additional amount over this endorsement fee which will go towards such branded entertainment deals,” says Afsar Abbas Zaidi, director, Carving Dreams Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. “It’s a win-win situation for both—the more popular the actor is, the stronger the association. Also, the brand does not have to spend from its pocket to shoot a new ad film.”
The two-month long dispute between multiplex owners and film-makers that ended in June means that there are a number of movies, such as Kaminey, 3 Idiots, Kites, and Dil Bole Hadippa lined up for release till December, that could offer brands a number of options to piggy-back on, said Shah.