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Bollywood actors going the extra mile for promotions

Marketing teams are now trying innovative methods to outdo each other during film promotions, and sometimes going horribly wrong too

If marketing gurus of the film industry are to be believed, making appearances on TV shows and embarking on multi-city tours are not the only promotional strategies being adopted. Marketing teams are now weaving promos around the film’s theme. So it isn’t really surprising to see Amitabh Bachchan and Boman Irani promote their film, 'Bhootnath Returns', by making public appearances in their character getups.

Varun Dhawan and Nargis Fakhri travelled on a bus as a part of promotions for their latest film
Varun Dhawan and Nargis Fakhri travelled on a bus as a part of promotions for their latest film

Producer Bhushan Kumar says, “It works in the film’s favour. The viewer immediately connects with the character and it is a good plug for the film. We all know he is Mr Bachchan, but his attire reminds us of the film.” Vinod Bhanushali, business head of T series, adds, “It helps the film tremendously. His look will constantly remind audiences about the film.”

Amitabh Bachchan recently made his first-ever appearance on Comedy Nights with Kapil. The legendary actor turned up in attire from his upcoming film, Bhootnath Returns
Amitabh Bachchan recently made his first-ever appearance on 'Comedy Nights with Kapil'. The legendary actor turned up in attire from his upcoming film, Bhootnath Returns

But an actress, on condition of anonymity, says that she does not favour making such appearances in the film’s getup. She says, “Vidya (Balan) might have done it for Kahaani . But it can get tiresome after a point. I don’t see this trend lasting for too long.”

The theme rules over everything else
For the music release of Main Tera Hero, its cast, Varun Dhawan and Nargis Fakhri, boarded a BEST bus that made the rounds of several city colleges. This was because the movie starts off as a campus romance. Alpana Mishra of Balaji Motion Pictures says, “We are constantly on the lookout for clutter-breaking ideas that stay true to the film’s theme. In this case, the bus guaranteed us visibility.”

While promoting her film Queen, Kangana Ranaut was togged out in clothes she wears in the scene where she enters a Paris pub with some of her friends.
While promoting her film 'Queen', Kangna Ranaut was togged out in clothes she wears in the scene where she enters a Paris pub with some of her friends. Pic/AFP

Ayushmann Khurrana recently took part in a road show in Mumbai and Delhi, where he travelled in a taxi with a placard seeking a job. This was in keeping with his role in the film, Bewakoofiyaan. Shailesh Kapoor, co-founder and CEO, Ormax Media, says, “Bewakoofiyaan’s marketing campaign created a lot of awareness about the film.”

Sunny Leone danced inside a cage to unveil the item number, Baby Doll, at a city mall
Sunny Leone danced inside a cage to unveil the item number, 'Baby Doll', at a city mall

Rafiq Gangjee, vice president, marketing and communications for YRF, says that the plan was to create maximum buzz at a venue. “Nariman Point is a location that is synonymous with the city’s corporate culture, and it has its share of job-seekers,” he says.

While promoting her film 'Queen', Kangna stepped out in her onscreen avatar. She was togged out in clothes she wears in the scene where she enters a Paris pub with some of her friends. The actress, along with director Vikas Bahl, crashed a midnight party in a pub. Rudra Datta, marketing and audience strategist of the film, says, “A sneak peek into what the film is about helps us draw audiences into the theatres.”

Going all out
But does this kind of innovation add to the film’s marketing cost? Datta, who represents Viacom 18 that also produced 'Kahaani', feels that this needn’t be the case. He says, “We didn’t have to spend anything extra when we had Vidya Balan travel to Mahim station with a pregnant belly. But her trip really worked for the film.”

In the past, Hrithik Roshan, Abhay Deol, Farhan Akhtar and Katrina Kaif took a road trip from Mumbai to Delhi to promote their film, 'Zindagi Naa Milegi Dobara'.

Just before the release of 'Gangs of Wasseypur' (GoW), posters of characters Ramadheer Singh and Faisal Khan had been pasted on walls across the city. Around 1,000 hoardings were put up in Mumbai and Delhi, over 2 lakh newspaper inserts were circulated, the campaign also featured individual twitter handles and a facebook page — all this formed part of the promotions for GOW2. A film that cost Rs 5crore to make spent around Rs 9crore on its promotional activities.

Getting the idea and the timing right
Kapoor says that promotional visits by filmstars can work very well if two factors are taken into account. “The first is the choice of market for these roadshows. Each star has some strong markets and some weak markets. Taking a star to his/ her strong markets is imperative for these promotions to work. The second factor is the creative idea. Recently, 'Ragini MMS 2' unveiled the song, 'Baby Doll', through a live show in a Mumbai mall. Aamir Khan went ‘missing’ while promoting '3 Idiots'; that was also very innovative. Today, anything that is not different will just get lost in the clutter. A star going to a city and addressing people from a stage is passé now,” he says.

Tanuj Garg, CEO, Balaji Motion Pictures, says that it’s about target marketing rather than theme marketing. “You should know the audience for your film and design your communication plan accordingly. You cannot follow a one-glove-fits-all approach. For 'Ragini MMS 2', we played up the erotic element in the film.” he says.

But do these marketing stunts really translate into good business? “Our data suggests that in the two weeks before a release, multi-city tours and roadshows can boost box office collections by as much as 20%. But if it’s done too early, say 4-5 weeks before the release, there is negligible impact,” says Kapoor.

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