Putting a Maruti at the heart of a movie

The movie Mere Dad Ki Maruti may mark the beginning of a trend of movies funded by advertisers

Gouri Shah
Updated25 Mar 2013
Ashish Patil, business and creative head, vice-president&#8212;Y-Films, brand partnerships, talent for Yash Raj Films. Photo: Sameer Joshi/Mint<br />
Ashish Patil, business and creative head, vice-president&#8212;Y-Films, brand partnerships, talent for Yash Raj Films. Photo: Sameer Joshi/Mint(Sameer Joshi/Mint)

Mumbai: The latest offering from Y-Films, a label of Yash Raj Films Pvt. Ltd (YRF), could well have been a 101-minute commercial for Maruti Suzuki India Ltd’s utility vehicle Ertiga. The movie Mere Dad Ki Maruti may mark the beginning of a trend of movies funded by advertisers. Ashish Patil, business and creative head, vice-president—Y-Films, brand partnerships, talent for YRF, speaks in an interview about using the car as a character in the film. Edited excerpts.

add_main_image

A car was the hero of your film. This could have gone horribly wrong. Weren’t you concerned?NextMAds

The nature of this business is that it’s so ridiculously unpredictable. It’s not like FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods), where you are churning out the same thing every week. Given the fact that we owed a set of deliverables to a partner (Maruti), the stakes were higher for us. Were we worried that YRF’s reputation was on the line considering this (movie) was the longest commercial ever? (laughs). Yes, that was something we were extremely mindful of. That at no point should it smell like a 101-minute long commercial for the brand. That would have been detrimental not just for Yash Raj’s brand but also for Maruti and it could have put off the consumer. The good news was that there was a brand like Maruti involved. Any other brand would have sounded like “this part is brought to you by…” For most families, their first car has been a Maruti. It’s almost generic to the category, just as you would say Xerox instead of photocopy. That certainly helped. In fact, the folks at Maruti did not want their name in the title. They wanted it to be called Mere Dad ki Gaddi. Furthermore, not many marketers are flexible enough to let us play around with the way the name is pronounced, where we called it “Ma-rutti” instead of “Maruti”. We had a bunch of characters in the film, which are not your shiny, happy people with clipped accents you see in advertisement. They are all loud, Punjabis from Chandigarh, which made it relatable for everyone. So we took them through all the critical milestones, right from the story stage on how it was being integrated. So at any stage where we felt, “this could get a bit much”, we decided to tone it down. So we protected the brand in that sense.

What came first? The movie or the brand?

If there can be advertiser-funded programming on television, then why can’t you have advertiser-funded feature films? We had two to three interesting ideas, which were easy and seamless fits for a brand. One of those ideas—and it was just a one-line idea—the story of a boy who sneaks out his dad’s car and loses it. Which suddenly put a product at the heart of the narrative. And it would have been really stupid on our part to not seek out a placement. We took the one-line idea out to market to a bunch of people, selectively, saying “Would you be interested, conceptually, to do a brand feature film?” At one level it’s a marketing manager’s dream, and it’s not expensive. For an advertiser in the automobile category, it was about a month’s ad spend on television. We had two–three brands very excited to do this. But not just for commercial reasons where the highest bidder wins, but also at a brand level; we opted for a brand where it would not have been a (forced) placement.

So how do the financials stack up?

The project cost, which is cost of production, prints, publicity and distribution put together, is about 10 crore. So it’s (budget) really tight. About 80% of this got covered between the partners and the satellite rights. I have a small gap of 20% in 10 crore left, which I have to bridge through box office. This does not even consider other revenue streams. For instance, we will have a potential kicker, if the box office outperforms, on satellite. Additionally, there is also a large amount we recover from music through licencing and digital, including air plays on music channels, caller ring back tunes, downloads, etc. As for the music, “When in doubt, go Bhangra” and it’s worked for us. We’re up there in the top 25 iTunes chart in India. And we’re already in the top 10 national caller tunes. So if we pulled in to the tune of 1-1.5 crore on Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge for digital and music, we expect this to be at least double. So pretty much everything that comes from box office now is money for jam. We’ve done almost 8.12 crore at the box office over the first week. Overseas (collections) number is sitting at over $123,000 ( 66 lakh), which is fantastic given the kind of spread—600 screens across India and less than 20 screens overseas. Also, we feel we have a decent shot at another weekend as the releases are not tent-pole films, there’s Rangreez, Sona Spa, Aatma. This is the only family option you have.

A number of studios have launched specialized units. What made YRF pick youth as a category for Y-Films?sixthMAds

70% of this country’s population is under 35 years. 82% of movie-going audiences are in the 15-35 years age group. It’s not a niche, it’s a very large segment. Unlike television, where there is clear segmentation with channels for children’s genre, or youth with MTV and Channel V, in films there is no such segmentation...it’s all general entertainment. So, clearly, that was an opportunity. One was the audience gap, two was the business opportunity, and the third was the industry requirement—the industry today is dependent on few very names, so it was really a pipeline for fresh talent—both on screen and off-screen. Over the last three films we would have introduced at least 30 new people, from writers, cinematographers, technicians to stylists and directors, etc. These are people who are going on to do bigger projects and I will then monetize that talent, through management.

Advertisers prefer TV over films because of the reach it delivers. Comment.

Irrespective of how the film performs at the box office, and before it was released, Maruti was ring-fenced (on their investment). You’ve received a six-week marketing campaign, you’ve got a TV campaign which has 24,000 TV spots that deliver over 1,200 GRPs (gross rating points), five music videos—four of which feature your car, running on high rotations across channels, which will go on for several years delivering close to a million seconds of editorial value on TV. Press and billboard advertising for three weeks nationally with your brand name in the title. And, of course, a 101-minute film, with your brand deeply embedded in the content. Massive social buzz, we’ve trended on Twitter at least three times and were the most-watched video on YouTube at least two times. A guaranteed satellite TV premiere on a general entertainment channel with multiple repeats. Not to mention PR worth atleast 10 crore, among other things. By the time we are done on the film, we would have delivered at least 10 crore eyeballs to Maruti. Of course, you have to make sure that your basic narrative, content quality, brand fit is correct. That you’re not associated with a horror film where people die in a car. But I understand the skepticism… the industry still doesn’t have a reliable unit to measure the return on investment. But those are pieces that are falling into place.

Catch all the Industry News, Banking News and Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.MoreLess
HomeindustrymediaPutting a Maruti at the heart of a movie

Most Active Stocks

Grasim Industries

2,518.20
09:39 AM | 25 JUN 2024
3.25 (0.13%)

HDFC Bank

1,709.15
09:39 AM | 25 JUN 2024
37.05 (2.22%)

Bharat Electronics

309.80
09:39 AM | 25 JUN 2024
0.1 (0.03%)

Indian Oil Corporation

164.55
09:39 AM | 25 JUN 2024
-1.75 (-1.05%)
More Active Stocks

Market Snapshot

  • Top Gainers
  • Top Losers
  • 52 Week High

Raymond

2,773.80
09:36 AM | 25 JUN 2024
165.6 (6.35%)

Welspun Corp

540.00
09:36 AM | 25 JUN 2024
27.85 (5.44%)

Patanjali Foods

1,521.50
09:36 AM | 25 JUN 2024
64.55 (4.43%)

Westlife Development

875.30
09:35 AM | 25 JUN 2024
35.7 (4.25%)
More from Top Gainers

Recommended For You

    More Recommendations

    Gold Prices

    • 24K
    • 22K
    Bangalore
    72,976.00-1,079.00
    Chennai
    73,620.00-654.00
    Delhi
    72,689.00-1,803.00
    Kolkata
    73,119.00-1,082.00

    Fuel Price

    • Petrol
    • Diesel
    Bangalore
    102.86/L0.00
    Chennai
    100.75/L0.00
    Kolkata
    103.94/L0.00
    New Delhi
    94.72/L0.00
    OPEN IN APP
    HomeMarketsloanPremiumGet App