Kannada film publicity goes digital

Kannada film publicity goes digital

New age filmmakers are increasingly using the digital medium to popularise their films

Films such as ‘Gultoo’ and ‘Humble Politiciann Nograj’ were promoted extensively online.

Sandalwood is changing. Be it fresher content, nuanced storylines, credible performances, creative film plots, or even the wider reach, Kannada film industry is boldly stepping into a new era. There is also one other change that has taken place in the industry; it is going digital.

Specifically in terms of marketing Kannada movies; whether it’s Tweeting about a film’s songs, or engaging the audience in a conversation related to the film on Facebook, or continuously engaging with a star’s fanbase on Instagram, digital marketing seems to be the ‘IT’ thing today.

Kavya Shankaregowda

Kavya Shankaregowda, founder of The Big Little, a marketing company, explains, “Today, the entire world has gone online and digital marketing exploits just that trait. It’s all about

reaching out to the right kind of people at the right time, and about keeping the conversation about a film alive till its release.”

Bharath Sudhama, co-founder of The Big Little, adds, “Everybody today, from a 13-year-old to a 60-year-old, is hooked to his/her phone. So, digital marketing targets these people and speaks to them in the digital language. Since there’s a problem of plenty in the industry today, and the success rate of films is only around 10-15%, every little thing that can help push a movie into the successful league is welcome. It’s about involving more people into a movie even before it hits the screens. The more they are involved, the more they feel obligated to go watch the movie.”

But there’s a big difference between digital marketing and promotions. While movie promotions are all about being seen everywhere, digital marketing is about reaching out to the right kind of audience with the right kind of information about the movie. “Digital marketing goes beyond just telling people about the movie’s title and songs. It tells people what exactly they can expect from a particular film,” explains Bharath.

For example, The Big Little ran campaigns for Humble Politiciann Nograj wherein they had funny videos on political satire.

Danish Sait donned the avatar of the politician Nograj even online and wished his followers a happy new year in his humorously arrogant avatar.

However, Kavya stresses on the need for marketing to the ‘right’ kind of audience. “I wouldn’t market a film like Katheyondu  Shuruvagide to someone who watches Bazaar, or I wouldn’t market Bazaar to someone who watches Gultoo. The more wrong people come, the more bad ‘word of mouth’ goes out, and your film suffers. One has to be extremely careful while marketing movies online.”

One of the advantages of digital marketing for films is that there are no rules to play by and there’s no limit to the number of people one can reach out to with regard to a movie.

Bharath Sudhama

One of the biggest digital marketing successes in Sandalwood was the movie Gultoo. This movie’s quirky promotional campaign managed to impress the IT crowd in Bengaluru and pull them into the theatres. The campaign basically had transgenders going to commuters waiting in traffic signals in and around major IT parks in Bengaluru and telling them to give their data instead of money.

Bharath, the man behind this creative campaign, says, “So, around 15-18 transgenders went to people waiting in the traffic signals and said, ‘Ae Raja, Data De!’ And then, they handed out a rupee to each commuter and said, ‘To know what happens when you share your data, watch Gultoo!’”
This successful campaign ultimately became a case study on Facebook, who invited Bharath to talk about how he utilised the digital medium to promote the movie. Even film-maker Anurag Kashyap was intrigued by the success of this campaign.

But while digital marketing promises many good things for a film, the reality is that many in the Kannada film industry are yet to fully embrace it.

Kavya explains, “Many in Sandalwood are yet to open up to digital marketing mostly because they are misled by the ‘cross this many views’ myth. Digital marketing is completely different from promotions. Just because a trailer has got a million views doesn’t mean it will pull more people into the theatres. It’s the newer crop of directors and producers like Rakshit Shetty, Pushkara Mallikarjunaiah, Hemanth Rao and Rishab Shetty who realised the value of the reach of the digital medium.”

Digital marketing is also perfect for those filmmakers who have tight budgets as digital marketing is cheaper than conventional marketing which involves huge posters, cut-outs of stars and more.

“Gultoo was a one-of-its-kind movie where we did not utilise TV or radio for marketing. Almost 80% of the promotions was through social media, and look at how that worked out,” says Kavya.

How much of the digital marketing campaign translates into movie bookings is something that is yet to be seen.

Nevertheless, it does help in keeping the buzz around a movie alive for the entire weekend instead of just on Friday.

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