Small is the new big
The cinematic boundaries in Bollywood are expanding rapidly, and there has never been a bigger leap in the way films are being promoted in the country nowadays.
Not just limiting film promotions to humongous billboards, dishing out free haircuts and quirky messages painted behind auto rickshaws, the Bollywood marketing bandwagon is working overtime to come up with cool concepts with which to promote films.
In a bid to truly appeal to the masses in the country instead of just the classes, more and more films are being promoted in B-level cities and smaller towns. Interestingly, these are not just run-of-the mill-activities but a lot of thought is being put into executing promotions in a manner that taps in the popular culture and the local flavour of the city as well.
Recently, the cast of Imtiaz Ali's Rockstar headed to Patiala to meet and greet film buffs and fans in the city. And that was quickly followed up by a trip to the Golden Temple. TV channels filmed Nargis Fakhri, who plays the female lead in the movie demurely walk into the temple premises, dressed in a modest salwar kameez.
Ranbir Kapoor, shrugging aside his Casanova image, seemed to be imbibing the divine ambience of the place in full spirit.
Kamal Jain, Group CFO at Eros International, the production company behind RA.One that was promoted in cities like Bhopal, says that when it comes to connecting to the audience, one really has to penetrate the B and the C towns.
Shah Rukh Khan in Bhopal for the promotion of RA.One
"With the multiplex culture growing in leaps and bounds, the revenues generated at the smaller cities has never been bigger," he says, also pointing out, "The key is to know how to attract the attention. We have to connect to people, their likes and dislikes."
Explaining the strategy behind the cast of Rockstar visiting the Golden Temple during the film's promotions, he says, "A trip to the Golden Temple would be close to the heart of everybody, something that a common person will do.
For promoting The Dirty Picture, Vidya Balan will flaunt saree blouses created by local tailors of the small towns she will visit along with the rest of the cast. Distributor Ramesh Sippy attributes this trend to a simple psychology.
He explains, "It is about giving importance to the audience in the smaller towns. Naturally, if they are being considered, they in turn want to patronise the film. They get to see stars in front of their eyes, people they would otherwise not see in daily life."
Catch the culture
Priti Shahani, chief marketing strategist at Reliance says that it is all about customising the cast's communication with local people. "Every place has its own culture. So, we customise the communication to build the brand."
Nargis Fakhri at the Golden Temple during the promotions of Rockstar
She credits the box office success of the Salman starrer Bodyguard to a careful strategy to take it beyond big cities. She says, "We ran a contest where people who won could become Salman's bodyguard for a day. When Salman was in Kanpur, we decided to announce the winners."
Coming back to the point of the growth in infrastructure and the multiplex culture in smaller cities, Sippy says, "If in a smaller town earlier, the revenue available was Rs 5 lakh, today it is Rs 8 lakh. Such a big proportionate jump is not possible in bigger cities."
Distributor from Central India, Aditya Choksi says that today, in Indore, there are eight multiplexes, four in Nagpur four and five in Raipur. "Revenues are going up, naturally filmmakers feel the need to promote their films in smaller cities."
Quality is the key
Trade analyst Amod Mehtra however says that ultimately if the film doesn't work, these promotional exercises only suit the ego of the hero. He recalls, "Abhishek Bachchan promoted Delhi 6 in six places in one week...some kind of record. But ultimately, no one came to see the film.