The dynamic art and science of movie marketing

Before hitting the theatres, movies are placed well in the minds of the audience and are sold effectively. From advertising with different brands, on-ground activities such as organising events, partnering with television shows, or collaborating with influencers and content creators, film marketers don’t leave a single chance to reach out to the audience.

With a substantial rise in the number of films releasing every year, which is approximately 220 films release in 52 weeks, the marketing and pitch of a film become even more important as almost two-three options are available at the ticket window on the same day. And with the growth of OTT and the battle only getting intense, movies aren’t competing with other movies alone for the consumer’s time and money.

Harsh Shah, Vice-President, Dentsu Webchutney, predicted four pillars that will drive movies marketing in 2019 for Bollywood — celebrities and their fans, content, technology and brands. He said, “Though digital is the platform that is amplifying the reach for films 100 or 1000 fold, more than the platforms, ideas are working for the films. These ideas use fans, mediums and technology in an effective way to drive organic conversations. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok will just be distribution channels.”

The digital push to movie marketing

The true potential of the opening day success of a movie can be predetermined by the views the trailer got on YouTube. The trailer’s views online give marketers a fair idea on the prospects of a movie.

Last year, Hollywood blockbuster ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ did mega business in India, clocking more than Rs 200 crore. Let aside appearing on Indian TV shows such as the Kapil Sharma Show for promotions, none of the movie actors even flew down to India.

Such was the marketing strategy of the movie that the massive buzz around it was created only through online platforms.

Film marketing experts believe that digital has become the centre stage for all promotions, starting from launching a trailer to content integration on various popular web shows.

A research by Ormax Media last year said Facebook and Instagram together lead the influence chart with 21% contribution, followed by YouTube at 18%. Television and in-theatre follow next with 13% and 9% respectively.

“While movie marketing is always an amalgamation of activities across mediums, digital marketing and the use of social media has taken a big jump in reaching out and engaging with audiences,” said Rudrarup Datta, Senior Vice-President Marketing, Viacom18 Motion Pictures.

There has been a substantial increase in digital spends in recent years; from 5% it has moved to 20% and even 30% depending on the film.

From announcing a film online, to viral content for promotions, using live videos to broadcast messages, interviews to coverage of events everything is done on social media. Content on social media is usually tailor-made to suit different types of people. Collaborations, influencer marketing/bloggers/vloggers are some of the most popular marketing tools that have evolved over the past few years and continue to get more popular with time.

Though digital is providing the reach, Shah said that more than the platform, it is the ideas doing the job. He said, “Though digital is the platform that is amplifying the reach for films 100 or 1000-fold, more than the platforms, ideas are working for the films. These ideas use fans, mediums and technology in an effective way to drive organic conversations. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok will just be distribution channels.”

“AR and VR will pick up in India as well as gaming, which will be the new platforms for marketing movies. Voice recognition technology is on the rise and may be tailored to help brands reach its audience based on the search history of customers,” said Rajat Uppal, National Marketing Head, Red FM.

The role of traditional mediums of marketing

Experts say that TV is still a reliable medium, though print has been on a decline as a medium for film publicity.

“While TV remains the biggest reach medium, the efficacy of print is on a decline,” said Datta. Adding to this, Varun Gupta of Max Marketing, who also was the part of the marketing team for ‘Bahubali’, said, “TV is consumed by crores of people out of which films are watched in theatres only by 8-12 % of the total population.”

Organising various contests around a movie story on radio shows and via on-ground activities is another way. Movie leads try to interact with the audiences before the launch. Such events also give fans a chance to interact with their favourites and ensure maximum footfall, and thus eyeballs. Associating with different TV shows such as The Kapil Sharma Show, Kaun Banega Crorepati, Bigg Boss, etc., helps movies to target the TV audience in the best traditional format.

“A film like ‘Badhaai Ho’ has to be promoted on every platform, from traditional media to new media, as the audience of that film is family. Whereas a film like ‘Uri’ can get away by limiting its promotion to digital. And then, of course, the word of mouth helps widen various segments of the audience that comes to watch the film,” said Rahul Puri, Managing Director at Mukta A2 Cinemas and Mukta Arts.

Shah, talking about the marketing of ‘Uri’ against anti-piracy, said, “Let the consumers make it ‘viral’. That’s exactly why Uri’s fight against torrents worked so well. The platform of torrenting is not your regular social platform. But unfortunately is very much a part of the Indian content consumption eco-system. The idea for Uri was native to the idea of torrenting; didn’t try to advertise the film with an idea that was alien to the platform.”

How movies benefit from brand integrations?

Integrating with brands has become one of the success formulas of effective marketing of movies. The recent release ‘Gully Boy’ is one such example. Its association with brands such as Adidas, Ola, KFC, Sunsilk, Zomato and Torex made sure the movie had the maximum reach. Such promotional associations by brands, where the movie characters appear in the brands’ advertisements, help movies get maximum publicity. In return, brands are also placed well in the movies. Such associations are believed to be money-saving also.

As the number of small-budget movies making it big at the box office on the back of solid content increases, brands are also likely to shift their budgets to these niche films. Small movies such as ‘Stree’ or ‘Badhai Ho’ have already showcased their potential to reach a larger set of audiences.

“The new crops of actors like Vicky, Ayushman and Rajkumar represent this trend where the audience is more interested in the characters you play and your ability as an actor rather than a superstar who plays the same role across movies,” said an expert.

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