New Delhi: Released during a non-festival and non-vacation period, the Rajumar Hirani-directed Sanju, which stars Ranbir Kapoor as Sanjay Dutt, has received enough love and money from audiences to not only become the biggest hit of the year but also to find a place among the top five in box office history. Sanju has garnered over ₹ 333 crore at the box office and still continues to run in theatres despite the entry of Dhadak.
You can never go wrong with a Rajkumar Hirani film where content is king but a fair part of the success of Sanju also derives from its disruptive marketing that rewrote many rules of film promotion.
A popular actor with a massive fan following, Sanjay Dutt, however, falls short of being an icon or poster boy of Bollywood. The challenge with his biopic was, therefore, to create a campaign that invokes curiosity and remains truthful. In the process, the film’s producers notched up many firsts.
These are five marketing strategies that worked for Sanju in the opening weekend when it grossed ₹ 120 crore.
1. The trick behind making Sanju’s teaser viral
The film’s producers guarded all looks of Ranbir Kapoor, as an unbelievable look-alike of Sanjay Dutt, till the time of the release of the teaser on April 24. “Sanju was the No.1 trend on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Google saw over 2 lakh searches in 24 hours," Shikha Kapur, chief marketing officer, Fox Star Studio, told Livemint.
The teaser was launched on social platforms and Hotstar followed by the biggest ever television roadblock across 80 channels over two days. The Sanju teaser reached over 150 million viewers across the world, making it the widest viewed teaser ever.
2. Fans were left in a limbo for over a month till the release of the film’s trailer
The time between the release of the teaser and the trailer was a month. All promotional material, including songs, was deliberately held back in between, contrary to traditional Bollywood wisdom that believes in bombarding audiences from all sides till the release of a film.
Strategically, the trailer started opening up new facets of Sanju into the campaign. It touched upon several flaws and controversies in Sanjay Dutt’s life and also brought to light the relationship between a father and a son.
3. For Sanju, everything was digital first
Both the teaser and the trailer of Sanju were launched on digital first. “The campaign was fronted by social platforms to build conversations and create an organically strong intent to watch the film," says Kapur.
4. The don’ts of marketing Sanju
There were more don’ts than do’s in the marketing campaign. For example, there were no TV or radio interviews of the star cast or Rajkumar Hirani till the last 10 days. “We wanted the audience to experience an unadulterated journey from teaser to trailer and hence all information outside the context of these two assets was timed for closer to release," says Kapur.
5. Most Sanju songs were released only after the film
Normally, songs are released before a film but in Sanju’s case this was different. Besides Har maidan fatah and Main bhi badhiya, all other songs were released after the film was screening in theatres.