The changing face of movie marketing

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Singh is KinngSingh is Kinng is coming out of my ears. Among the recent Hindi movies this must rank as the best pre-launch hype. Almost all of them follow the same routine: create some controversy or news story during the making of the film, ensure a big bang music launch, plaster every news & entertainment channel with promos, interviews with stars, ‘making of the movie’ stories, a contest on youth channels like MTV or Channel V, use an event (preferably a live awards show) to plug the film, promote an item number and so on. What is the new is the increasing use of social marketing sites and online advertising. Every other film has a mandatory Facebook & Orkut page nowadays.

The codes of a typical brand launch are very much in view. Given that a film’s fate is sealed in the first few weeks, it seems to be an all-out effort to seduce the viewer into brand trial. It’s all the more true if the film is a big budget, mainline film. Niche films like Manorama Six Feet Under and those that cater to smaller towns (Vivah?) follow the slow burn approach.

Singh is Kinng has all the ingredients: a website, a Facebook page, an Orkut page and truckloads of unpaid media coverage. They have also successfully created interesting news bytes (Snoop Dogg and the pagdi), a hummable refrain and promoted the film through shows like IAAFA where Akshay performed some acts from the movie. The website is created with the media community in mind, loaded with press kits and stuff. But the social network pages have the usual gallery and messages. When all Hindi films

The mantras Hindi film marketing seem to be:

1. When in doubt, pitch to the youth: almost every genre of film made today (there seems to be just two: action and comedy) aims to appeal to the youth. The promos are slicklymade, the ads are on the interner, social communities are sought to be built etc. The success of Jaane Tu is an example – apart from online advertising, the stars were promoted through meets in malls where the youth hang out. And everyone has a presence in Social Networking sites. Not surpsing. According to Express Computer: a study done by AC Neilson across males and females between the ages 13-35 years across the country, users spend an average of nine hours per week on the Internet, only for personal purposes, and of these nine hours, approximately 25–75% is spent on a social networking site. But the question to be asked is: what can the films do different there? Apart from the usual clips, songs and pictures there is pretty much nothing else.

2. Get big brands on board: not a week passes by without agencies getting a proposal to ‘integrate’ a brand in an upcoming movie. It helps if the leading lady or hero of the film is the brand ambassador. Lux was roped in as a sponsor for Love Story 2050 – maybe Lux saw synergies with Priyanka being the lead lady. I remember seeing a hoarding by Lux to promote the film. Such sponsorships and merchandising is seen as a way to recover costs. While the success of such deals is a shot in the dark, the risk is worth taking if there is some synergy between the content & brand. The next critical set of brand that need to be roped in are in the media space – a radio partner, a channel partner go a long way in popularising songs and clips. Even in the Kannada industry, the trend is catching up. Bombat, a new movie from Ganesh, the Mungaru Male fame star had its songs promoted on a local channel.

3. Build a story, build hype: As with mainstream brands project a story in the promotions. Like the Snoop Dogg and the pagdi story, plant stories that become fodder for news channels, Page 3 types, online sites and so on. In the case of Singh is Kinng, Akshaye’s popularity in Toronto and first-ever billboard of a Hindi movie in Toronto’s prime location have been lapped up by the media. Not all ‘stories’ work though. I remember reading about Mike Tyson featuring in some Hindi movie – whatever happened to it? Building hype and anticipation pays – look at iPhone. But of course, the product better match the hype. Which unfortunately is not the case with most movies. If you go by the promos and the ‘making of’ hype you would think that every movie is a must-see.

4. Music as the magnet: while this has been the practice for some time now, don’t shy from using online sites to promote the music. Jaane Tu’s site is an example. Bachna Ae Haseeno releasing on Aug 15 is already promoting the music! The increasing popularity of bloggers and moive sites help the cause of the film if the music is talked about.

Given that almost all the movies follow these and more, the trick is in finding things that are different in this space.

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