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A hit recipe

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Courting success A new formula
Courting success A new formula

Exciting new ingredients are being added to turn out that perfect box-office bonanza, writes K. Jeshi

The debate is still on — has pre-release hype on his 10 roles killed Kamal Hassan’s Dasavathaaram, or has it set new box office records? Either way, there is no denying the movie had an incredible opening and is running to packed houses.

The buzzword

It is no longer about print media ads, posters and hoardings. A film release has acquired another dimension — of SMS contests, caller tunes, lunch with the stars, radio blitz and film merchandise. Promotion is the buzzword.

Movies gunning for a target audience to ensure box office success, seem to be doing well. Young viewers say that they increasingly count on promotion campaigns to help them decide which film to watch much before it is released. “Every film has an audience. Be it a Rituparno Ghosh film or a David Dhawan one, identifying the target audience is vital,” says Saurabh Varma, marketing head of Adlabs Marketing Division, Mumbai.

In the case of Adblab’s Love Story 2050 starring Priyanka Chopra and Harman Baweja, slated for a July 4 release, the target audience is 15 to 35 years. “So, our focus is online space. The content is based on special effects, so we have an exciting trailer, which has already created hype on You Tube, blogs and websites,” he says.

Further, the lead pair will visit various cities. A retail outlet promotion is also lined up.

“As part of radio launch of the film, the stars will talk to lovelorn listeners, as the story is all about love,” Saurabh reveals.

Value addition is the order of the day and the youth look for that something extra which enhances their movie watching experience.

R.S. Prabhu, executive director of KG Theatre Complex, a multiplex, says pre-release hype helps in drawing the attention of the young people. “Promotion has to synergise with the movie they are watching or with the movie watching experience; it could be even in the form of slogans on T-shirts and caps to create a buzz. Touring cities, signing autographs and participating in contests, helps in improving the occupancy in theatres,” Prabhu adds.

As information spreads at incredible speed, the build-up has become necessary to get the maximum crowd during the opening weekend.

Brand image

Pre-planning, building a brand image of the film and the crew and identifying the target audience, whether the movie is a multiplex or single screen release, are critical in marketing. For instance, Vivah had a limited release and reached out to a target audience and became a success. S. Kamala Kannan, a film buff says the pre-release hype should be content driven.

“It should bank on the rational aspects of a movie rather than emotional or sentimental values. For instance, Dasavathaaram is packed with messages on bio-war, Tsunami, and also about the origin of Aids. But, because of the hype, everyone is talking only about the make-up and the roles,” he adds.

He says Aamir Khan’s Mangal Pandey The Rising is an example of content based hype. “Even Lage Raho promoted the concept of bringing Gandhi back into action and it was a huge success. It made people visit museums to know more about Gandhi. So was Swades. Though it was a Shah Rukh Khan film, people watched it for the nationalism content,” he explains.

A commodity

Unlike other forms of art, films today are predominantly a product, so pre-commercial activity has become important, says Rakesh S. Katarey of Amrita School of Communication.

“Be it big or small, films must conform to a certain minimum spend on generating hype, or face the risk of not being noticed at all. Films like Black Friday or Hazaaron Khwaaishein Aisi which could have been runaway hits suffered because of poor marketing,” he points out.

But, a buzz alone cannot ensure movie success.

“Marketing cannot help in selling a bad product. We can put in effective distribution and marketing to bring the audience for the first three days. But, later the movie sells entirely on its merit,” Saurabh explains.

He cites the success story of Shah Rukh Khan’s OSO as an example of good marketing. Small budget films like Khosla Ka Ghosla and Bhagam Bhag became winners based on word of mouth promotion.

“Be it a Shah Rukh Khan or a Rajinikanth film, the ultimate winner is the story, engagingly told. And, a generation of young film directors and producers are doing just that along with some marketing magic,” Prabhu concludes.

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