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Push & Pull

Content consumption patterns, even though in flux, determine whether a film marketing campaign will be successful

Deepesh Shah

There is a remarkable shift in how the Indian audience consumes content today. Apart from Bollywood and cricket, Indians are now watching kabaddi, football, tennis and hockey, attending live concerts, stand-up acts every weekend and travelling more than before.

OTT content providers, both international (Netflix, Amazon Prime) and Indian (Hotstar, Voot, Ozee, ALT Balaji), have opened up both new and old content, Indian and global, which became easily accessible thanks to affordable pricing and fast data speeds. Abroad, thanks to the same OTT platforms, Indian content apart from Bollywood has opened up to the diaspora audience.

The Indian audience is evolving, they are now willing to explore new and different content ideas that are well executed and they are not willing accept sub-standard content. The last 12 months’ box office collections clearly show that good and different content is accepted and celebrated, while sub-standard content is rejected, and star power also will not be able to stop.

This in turn challenged the traditional Bollywood success models. Instead of opting to watch a film, consumers have the choice to watch other content on any device or attend a non-film event. This shifted the focus back to the backbone of filmmaking – telling unique stories in an entertaining fashion.

With the changing content consumption trends in mind, marketers have gone back to the drawing board and are changing their practices to help push their films better in the following ways:

Template Marketing Campaigns Don’t Work

Every film is different, its audience is different and its selling factors are different hence the approach of the marketing campaign has to be customized to the film. The campaign Bajrangi Bhaijaan with Salman Khan’s star power was designed around fans, while that of social drama `Pink’ was using word-of-mouth push around the strong message of consent and Word-of-Mouth; whereas action blockbuster ‘Shivaay’ was high impact activities.

Change in Media Mix with Digital leading campaigns Paid media campaigns are no longer about frequency, rather smartly studying the film’s audience and deciding the right media mix suited to it. A TV campaign is now about creating impact using a unique mix o f channels which reaches out to the maximum target audience. The newspaper ad has changed from a platform for announcement to a reminder medium which is most effective closer to important date.

Digital media today is the lead platform for any campaign. All ticket-buying audience is connected to the digital world and with local Indian languages enabled, the platform reach is massive, and a well-designed campaign can deliver massive dividends. With close to 140 million 4G subscribers in India, mobile reach is at its highest, second to the reach of television. OOH in selected locations showcases the largeness of the film.

Campaign calendar is decided The audience is no longer just consuming Bollywood content. On a daily basis, the consumer is following regional and Hollywood movies, sports, pop culture events and political news. All these compete with Bollywood for the consumer’s attention. Hence, today, films need to plan all asset launches not just based on the Bollywood calendar but also keep in mind other content verticals.

Star’s reach must be beyond the film No longer do film promotions begin with the trailer launch. Judwaa 2 began with the lead cast announcing the beginning of the shoot on social media. Shoojit Sircar’s October released pictures at the script-reading level. Active participation of the lead cast along with the director is key. Engagement with audiences beyond the film leverages the popularity the actors have onto the film. Fans today follow their favourite stars before and after the film. Hence, their personal social networks become an important touch point for the film’s campaign.

International markets can change the game With the diaspora audience at the highest and audiences from other nationalities also watching Indian movies, the collections of Dangal and Baahubali show the potential of the underexplored markets. Localised campaigns are key – one of the key drivers of Dangal’s campaign in China was endorsement by Chinese actors. My Name is Khan had an extensive international campaign with unique activities in the US, the UAE, the UK and Germany, which resulted in becoming one the biggest international grosser of its time. 2.0 commenced its international campaign in June from Los Angels.

Discovery-led PR is more consumed over generic PR Fans are interested in discovering more about the story behind the film more than ever. Thus discovery-led press stories are picked up and consumed faster than a generic one. General information on the film is easily accessible – the focus of PR today is feeding the content-hungry audience with carefully strategized stories placed across mediums leading to the release. This function continues post release to further sustain the campaign.

Fans power superstar campaigns

Technology has enabled fans of the same actor to connect, making fan clubs more organised and mighty. Across Bollywood and regional films, all superstars have a legion of fans backing their every move. This fan passion ultimately drives film footfalls hence it is paramount to tap into these clubs. In Bajrangi Bhaijaan, director Kabir Khan showcased both teaser and trailer first to Salman Khan fans. They in turn felt closer to their star and proudly advocated the film till its theatrical release.

No fixed way to budget

With more competition clutter, the marketing cost for films is rising and is never enough. While the total budget may not be alterable in all cases, there is no one fixed way on how to allocate the amount. The film’s objectives need to define this allocation and not the other way around.

Certain films would do better spending more digitally on an urban audience while another may need more push on TV. There are no must-dos for campaigns anywhere – what would best drive footfalls on the opening weekend to the theatres is what would define the film’s marketing spends.

– Film campaigns need to adapt to consumers’ choice

(Written by Deepesh Shah, Founder/Managing Partner, Yellow Inc)

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