Virtual power

The huge hoardings in the city —despite the constant reminder from environmentalists that they come up at the cost of trees — aren’t going anywhere. But they aren’t the sole source of promotions now. More often than not, the first look of a Hindi film is nowadays seen on the Internet, even before it goes live on television.

On April 5, the song Badtameez Dil from Ayan Mukerji’s upcoming film Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani was released online. Within two days, the video garnered more than 1.2 million hits on YouTube. Similarly, the Laila Teri Le Legi item song — featuring Sunny Leone — from Shootout At Wadala attracted about half a million viewers within a day. Speaking of which, every single day Indians watch about 125 million videos on the aforementioned video-sharing portal. But it’s not the only available digital option.

Badtameez Dil from Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani earned 1.2 million hits within two days

Back in 2009, Aamir Khan travelled across India during the launch of 3 Idiots for a campaign titled ‘Catch me if you can’ with regular updates on his blog.

Over the years, this drive to connect and engage with the audiences has grown. Facebook (FB) pages dedicated to movies and their stars along with Twitter handles —even the fake ones — generate curiosity. The battle to grab eyeballs has gradually moved from the real to the virtual world. And nobody is complaining. Besides, the producers pay by the seconds on TV whereas online portals are a lot cheaper and a lot more accommodating.

The rising number of web users is a testament to this rather pleasant change. Nonetheless, even the actors are more than willing to contribute time as well as effort to connect with their fans on the Internet. “Interaction with celebrities is something that excites millions of fans living in a world fascinated with stars. They can do so using Google Hangout and get the latest updates from the cast and the crew about the merchandise,” notes Kesavan Kanchi Kandadai, CEO, Tangerine Digital.

Understandably, Ranbir Kapoor had no qualms sharing frank moments—including videos where he’s singing out of tune—from the sets of Barfi! Even Akshay Kumar shot an entire day for the digital promotion of his last feature Special 26. Alongside his efforts, the digital campaign for the heist movie was already in place and the trending hashtag results were showing up on timeline.

According to Atul Hegde of Ignite, a leading digital marketing company, sky is the limit. “As of now, attention is a priceless commodity and there’s so much to explore in terms of innovation and adaptability. We’re talking about social networking sites, apps, interactive events, win-a-ticket contests and a lot more. The best part is there is no limitation on the space and time,” adds Hegde.

Even Viacom18 reiterates this particular view. “Social media is the strongest engagement tool that we can use to interact with the youth. We have proven efficiencies of our extensive campaigns, minimalistic posters, trailer mashups and many such innovative tools,” points out the spokesperson.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, starring Farhan Akhtar, is all set to hit the marquee on July 12. However, the campaign for the biopic commenced way back in October last year. Hegde explains the mechanics behind this marketing strategy. “Today, Hindi movies are about the first three days: Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Nobody bothers what happens next. The FB page we set up for this film features just a teaser and some pictures. Yet fans continue to visit the page and discuss,” he says.

Turns out not only independent cinema but also big banners with small-budget films are making the most of these avenues.

For what this trend is worth, content makes all the difference. Word of mouth can work against the films as well. “Content is the absolute king. If your product is good, nobody can stop you from positive publicity. But if it’s a bad film, then no matter what you do, it will fail.” sighs. 

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