Bollywood actors resort to marketing gimmicks to promote films

Last Updated : 11 January 2010, 08:18 IST
Last Updated : 11 January 2010, 08:18 IST

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Gone are the days when the marketing and publicity of a cinematic venture was limited to illustrious film posters, giant billboards, movie merchandising, television advertisements, pre-release media hype, etc.

Superstar Aamir Khan travelled across the country in disguise, Shahid Kapoor and Genelia D'Souza spent a night together in a car, Amitabh Bachchan read news on a TV channel, while actress Neha Dhupia threw condoms at a college crowd – all this to publicise their films.
After these below-the-line activities, a marketing parlance for non-mass media promotions, were successful in creating a positive buzz around the films, it has now caused quite a flutter in the movie-making fraternity and triggered a a new race for fresh and more aggressive marketing methods.

"Bollywood is now using the latest marketing techniques to attract more eyeballs. Previously they used to think they knew everything about marketing films and assumed that just putting up billboards and media advertisements were enough to promote their films," advertising guru Alyque Padamsee said.

Padmasee says he approves the current trend in Bollywood. "It's good for the industry that they have finally realised the importance of marketing and are innovating. Whether you are selling a movie or a 'bhelpuri', you need to have proper marketing," he says.
As part of his unique strategy promoting '3 Idiots', Aamir Khan roamed around the country for two weeks in disguise and challenged his fans to spot him.
Similarly, to hype his pet-project 'Veer' and to change his 'bad boy of Bollywood' image, actor Salman Khan had recently announced a hunt for unsung heroes who had performed acts of heroism in their lives.

Also, megastar Amitabh Bachchan who is cast as a media magnate in upcoming film 'Rann' was recently seen reading news on a TV channel giving a year-end news roundup.
The film's director Ram Gopal Verma, says he plans to distribute a ten-page daily newspaper 'Rann Times' till the commercial release of the film.
"Good marketing has produced good results at the box office. That old belief that the merit of the film shall eventually emerge victorious has long since been overridden. By the time you wait for the merit to show its face, five other films have shown their merits," blogged the Big B.

To promote Ken Ghosh's 'Chance Pe Dance', based on the life of a struggling actor, lead pair Shahid Kapoor and Genelia D'Souza spent a night together inside a car.
UTV plans to organise a Chambal trip for a few chosen fans, for the upcoming Irrfan Khan starrer 'Pan Singh Tomar', based on real-life character of an Asiad medal-winning sportsman who turns robber to fight injustice in his village in Chambal.
"All these promotional activities cannot be the same for every other film. Each one of them will have to be unique based on the product. Every time you have to innovate and renovate yourself, else the whole thing becomes old," says veteran adman Prahlad Kakkar.
Gimmicks can only give the film a good opening, thereafter it stands at the box-office on its merit, he adds.
So, is Aamir Khan showing the way to the entire industry? "With every film, he goes out of his way to promote it. How many actors spend two months to promote a film? Now every actor wants to promote their film the way Aamir does," says celebrity publicist Dale Bhagwagar, who handles clients like Hrithik Roshan, Vivek Oberoi and Govinda.

Lyricist and adfilmaker Prasoon Joshi, who has worked with the actor in several projects, however, cautions that there is a huge risk in resorting to such gimmicks.
"Aamir is doing this only because he has full faith in his product. If the product is bad then a good advertisement will kill it even before its time," he says.
Voicing similar concerns, Kakkar says that only if actors believe in their movie, should they go out of their way for promotions.
"These gimmicks are like a double-edged sword. It works only if the film is made really well otherwise it will flop even faster," he says.
Padamsee, however, says he feels that the Hindi film industry  has woken up too late.
"Bollywood is catching up with the advertising industry too late. We have been doing it since long but they are beginning only now. I would say they are waking up now but have a long way to go," says the ad guru.
When asked what has resulted in the sudden change in marketing tactics, publicist Bhagwagar says the trend is inspired from Hollywood.
"We have adopted those gimmicks and even renovated them according to our market. And with an increase in media exposure, the public is ready for this," he says.

Published 11 January 2010, 08:18 IST

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