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How digital space has become a game-changer as a promotional platform

Besides innovative marketing techniques to reach out to the audience for a film today, there is a growing acceptance by studios and filmmakers in using the power of the digital medium to its optimal level to promote and market their films. Mobile phones, video and audio content, social media and gaming are emerging as important platforms for filmmakers to go all out to garner desired and effective results.

These tools form a strong lifecycle of stimulating content from the making of the movie to its release and even after the film’s theatrical release. The biggest question when reaching out to the target audience is – where are they consuming content outside cinemas? The answer is multi-screens: access to the content on their platform of choice – television, PCs, mobile phones and tablets.

Trends

1. With 120 million Internet-enabled mobile phones in India along with a surge in mobile data connectivity including 3G and the expected 4G launch, it is the ‘golden time’ to maximise the potential of digital platforms. We have come a long way from downloading only movie posters/wallpapers and ringtones on our handsets. Today, there are innovative options to enjoy film-related content on our mobile phones. One of the most innovative products launched in this space in the recent past was Audio Cinema.

It’s a simple concept – movie-on-your-phone service. This technological innovation offers movie enthusiasts, a one-hour audio version of their favourite movies with dialogue, narration and the gist of the story. Movies like FashionSholay and even The Dirty Picture are a part of this, giving Indian mobile users the power to engage with their favourite film content at their convenience. We continue to make the experience more personal and more engaging. Today, it’s also easier than before to reach out to your favourite film stars by just using your phone. Special voice chats are available, which allow users to speak to the stars personally through their phones.

2. Globally, players like NetFlix and Hulu are definitely the game-changers when it comes to online video-watching patterns. But when it comes to India, YouTube is a sure-shot winner, with 31 million users per month. Video streaming today allows users to avail the latest music videos, movie trailers, movie scenes and even an entire movie!

There was a time when we used to rush to the cinema before the actual start time of the movie to catch the new trailers of upcoming films. Now YouTube breaks new trailers/song videos/behind the scenes of a film and more. Video streaming platforms also allow immediate access to the Indian diaspora. With Indian movie fans residing all over the world, platforms like YouTube and NetFlix give instant access to content from anywhere across the globe. Interactive Apps is another recent phenomenon.

Take the upcoming Barfi!, for example. UTV Motion Pictures has launched an innovative and interactive application, The Flavour of Barfi!, on YouTube. With this app, users can meet Ranbir Kapoor and make him enact the many moods of Barfi! Ranbir will smile, dance, cry, love and even flirt with users, all in real time, on their computer screens! With scope for innovation and the direct window of interaction with the target audience, online video streaming is only going to get bigger!

3. Gaming today is not restricted to playing the good old Snake on your mobile phone. It has grown by leaps and bounds across platforms with a high level of engagement and interactivity. Leveraging gaming in the right context can achieve stunning results. The biggest case study in Bollywood of the perfect merger of films and gaming is the movie RA.One. 2011 saw the bold entry of Bollywood into the gaming space with RA.One Genesis developed by us. This game, in the true sense, showcases how the lifecycle of characters can be extended through film-themed games.

RA.One witnessed 1 million game downloads within the first week of its launch. The effective use of RA.One Genesis to achieve engagement with fans created a successful franchise that has even outlived the film. The right fitment of content, in this case a movie with engaging gameplay, helps bring outstanding results, something that carries and spreads the experience of a movie forward.

4. Social media is a bus filmmakers should not miss! Old Bollywood had fan magazines to promote movies while the modern Bollywood has Facebook and Twitter. Scope to innovate and reach out to the right audience is infinite in the social media realm. From creating viral alternative reality campaigns to using social networks to build awareness, the movie industry can explore and create multiple options to engage users.

Social media also allows studios to engage with their fans on a day-to-day basis through daily posts, polls, contests and more. The scope of two-way communication through social media is what makes it an instant hit. Fans/audience use social media as a platform for constant feedback/viewpoints and access points to quality content straight from the filmmakers.

The digital medium provides studios a prolonged, direct window of interaction to their audience. It goes beyond the theatrical release of a film. With India churning out over 1,200 movies a year, now is definitely the right time to start building brand equity in the digital world and position oneself for future growth by building relationships directly with  the consumer.

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