Film stars make a pitch for their movies with cricket

Film stars make a pitch for their movies with cricket

New Delhi: With a single swing of a cricket bat, actor Akshay Kumar is promoting both his latest Hindi film De Dana Dan released on 27 November and the ongoing India-Sri Lanka test match series for Neo Cricket TV channel.

The advertisement, broadcast on Neo Sports and Neo Cricket channels, is the latest in a list of commercials that feature a Hindi movie and a cricket tournament India is playing.

“It’s an oft-repeated cliché that Bollywood and cricket are the biggest passions in India," says Abhishek Verma, head of marketing and communication at Neo Cricket. “The new commercials are an attempt to combine the two."

Producers of De Dana Dan shot special spots for TV channels where film actors talked about the movie and the ongoing cricket series. The commercials were then broadcast on the sports channels, which aired them free of cost.

For its last movie All The Best, Ajay Devgan Films shot a commercial in a stadium with actors Sanjay Dutt, Ajay Devgan and Fardeen Khan sporting Indian cricket colours and masks of popular cricketers such as Sachin Tendulkar and Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Director Rohit Shetty declined to reveal how much the advertisement cost, but said that the film got the required “mileage" for the money it spent. “We would have spent the money any way in marketing the film, said Shetty. “Promoting it through cricket turned out to be a better idea and a better deal."

Anil Jain, who is spearheading the marketing of De Dana Dan, said film-makers spend around Rs6-7 crore on a big budget movie, like the one his company, Venus Records and Tapes Pvt. Ltd, has produced. However, the co-branding with cricket generally work on a “pure barter" basis with the film maker producing the advertisements and channels airing them for free.

Marketeers said the success of the Indian Premier League, a Twenty20 cricket tournament, where at least three teams are co-owned by film stars, has reinforced the Hindi film industry’s association with cricket.

“The trend has caught on as marketing agencies working with producers understand that the biggest vehicle to promote a film is cricket," said Verma of Neo Sports. “That gives them the reach without spending much money."

Though advertisements made by film producers are aired on other channels as well, Nirmal Dayani, senior director of marketing at ESPN Software India Pvt. Ltd, refused to share details of commercial deals when such commercials appear on channels outside his sports network.

Mixing cricket and movies is not a new idea, but the co-promotions are now “becoming more visible, aggressive and perhaps even more beneficial" for both film-makers and broadcasters, said Raksha Mistry, executive producer of Venus Records and Tapes.

In the past few months, All the Best actors cheered for India on ESPN and Star Sports during the Champions Trophy in South Africa while Shree Ashtavinayak Cine Vision Ltd’s Blue ran commercials on the same channels during the Champions League Twenty20 cricket tournament. Film actor Salman Khan, too, promoted his film London Dreams during the Australia-India series.

ESPN’s Dayani said movie stars add value to sports channels. “We (also) create value for the films through the communication, which is very visible on our networks."

Often, television channels try to add more value by inviting film stars to their shows. For example, actors Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone talked about cricket—and their film Love Aaj Kal—in a pre-match summary before an India match during the International Cricket Council’s Twenty20 World Cup held in England in June.