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Breaking The Mould

rudrarup-duttaBold. Irreverent. Risky: Ground-breaking campaigns that set new benchmarks in film marketing

Youth Power

The campaign of Delhi Belly was one of the most striking ones in recent years. While it had the advantage of Amir Khan’s star power, the usage of Brand Aamir broke many a norm. It took guts to take such a clear positioning and make it a film ‘ONLY’ for the youth, creating an unprecedented  affinity for itself in the age group which contributes maximum to the footfalls in cinemas. Whether the songs, social communication or the use of traditional media, every element reeked of a youthful vibrancy and was rebellious yet fresh. If there was one campaign that demonstrated the power of targeting the youth, it would be Delhi Belly.

Blitzkrieg Marketing

In the days preceding the release of Ra.One, it almost felt as if there was nothing else happening in the country. Everywhere that you looked, any medium that was available, had a Ra.One communication on it.

The campaign announced the arrival of the blitzkrieg strategy which ensured that not only everyone was aware of the film but the message was being hammered down repeatedly, almost compelling the audience to watch the film – ranging from across social media to traditional media. From telecasting events like music launches on TV, using brand associations and co-branded advertising, to launching movie merchandise, there was not one element or avenue that was left untouched.

Namaste India – Mai Tom Cruise India aa raha hoon

The current headline is ‘Hollywood is coming, fasten your seat belts’. But it was 2011 when the game started turning with Mission ImpossibleGhost Protocol (Paramount Pictures – Viacom18 Motion Pictures). This was the first time that an A-list Hollywood actor had come to India to promote his film. Not to shoot a tiny portion of a film, not for spiritualism, not to attend a wedding but for the money that the Indian box office had to offer.

Tom Cruise made India his home for a few days, met fans across the country and premiered his film in India before the world, putting India on the focus list for Hollywood. Sure, he also fulfilled his long-time wish to see the Taj Mahal and carried back fond memories while he set the box office on fire.

Hero + Music = Hit film.  Think Again – The ‘Real’ Heroine Has Arrived

Kahaani broke many a templates, not only as a film but even with the marketing route it took. With an objective of getting under the skin, the campaign was almost shockingly real. With posters of ‘Arnab Bagchi missing’ cropping up across cities, followed by a heavily pregnant Vidya Bagchi (Vidya Balan) going to railway stations, markets, police station and even temples to look for her missing husband, made the aam janta sit up and take notice.

The power of realism had hit the box office. Despite lacking all conventional elements, including the presence of a hero and resting entirely on the shoulders of the heroine, Kahaani took the nation by storm and set a precedent for films like NH10, Mary Kom, Highway and Mardaani, which found success. Using realism for marketing was now a trend.

Bad Is The New Good – Irreverence in Marketing

Traditionally, films have always projected the hero as a do-gooder, a progressive young gentleman who wins the heart of the heroine. Gangs Of Wasseypur broke every norm with the story of ruthless, crass ganglords in Bihar. The marketing campaign for the film was based on ‘a film without heroes, only villains’. A gaali app that gave you the perfect gaali for every situation, wall paintings screaming ‘teri keh ke lunga’ and radio spots taking a dig at Anurag Kashyap, the director, were created as part of the promotions for the film.

Irreverence suddenly became relevant. ‘Gamchha Marketing’ became the new cool, with media and audiences in Cannes sporting the humble Indian cloth and live election battles between Faisal Khan and Ramadheer Singh fought on the streets of Mumbai. Long queues outside theatres announced loud and clear that being bad was the new cool.

 The Sound of Music

Music has been an integral part of the movie-making business. But using music as the key component to market a film without star power, and that too as a part of a franchise of a 1990 film, was mastered by the makers of Aashiqui 2.

The songs of the film were a roaring success, plastered across all media vehicles that created a new benchmark for music marketing. The sheer popularity of the music drove young audiences in hordes to cinemas and set the box office registers ringing. The marketing focussed on making sure that there was a single-point focus on what the film had to offer. Aashiqui 2 is a case study in music marketing.

Celebrating the Real Heroes – The Arrival of Biopics

The preliminary research before the shoot of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag pointed out that the country had forgotten one of its greatest heroes, Milkha Singh. The youth hadn’t heard of him. Sports in India is cricket, no one cared about athletics. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag changed all that, right from the auction of Milkha Singh’s shoes from the Rome Olympics, to launching the teaser almost a year before release.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag made biopics the new buzz word. Brands responded and associations with the movie took the inspirational message of the man and the film to every household. The story of India’s once forgotten hero crossed the Rs.100-crore barrier with ease and established the power of the ‘true story’.


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