Bollywood Marketing

The Indian Film Industry is the largest film producing industry in the world. It produces close to 1000 movies a year, compared to Hollywood & Japan which only produce about 500 and 400 movies a year, respectively. With revenues of US $3 billion in 2011, growing at a rate of approx. 10% a year and expected to reach US $4.5 billion by 2016, Bollywood as an industry is a nascent breeding ground for marketers.

In Bollywood today, if the box-office is King, then “Marketing” is the King-maker. Many a film have marketing budgets which either equal or exceed the film’s production budgets, with big bucks flowing into promotional tours, ad campaigns, corporate tie-ups, television appearances, etc. No matter what the content of the film, ultimately, it is how it is marketed that really sets it apart from its peers. (Pic courtesy –

These days, the need for marketing and the marketing budget of a film is directly proportionate to the film’s production cost, and is akin to the case of a snake swallowing its own tail. The more expensive the film’s production, more are the number of prints needed to rake in collections, and consequently, greater is the need to generate awareness for the film. As a result, even more money is spent on marketing it, to ensure that a large audience is attracted to theaters to watch it.

A general listing of how a film sources its revenue is shown in the table below.

Bollywood has evolved in their approach to movie releases, with film makers realizing their movies are products that need to be branded, positioned and targeted at the right audience,instead of just putting up Eastman Color posters across towns. Though films still piggyback on a superstar to pull in audiences, the mindset towards marketing is changing, with a focused approach towards selling the entire experience of the movie (in advance) to its targeted end consumers. This is evident in the way a movie like “Peepli Live” was marketed through dark humor and satire as it sought to reel in multiplex (i.e. the thinking) audiences, while “Dabangg” targeted single-screens as well as multiplexes and reflected the “leave-your-mind-at-home” masala experience in all its promotional activities.  “My Name is Khan” was a good example of a film which was targeted towards family audiences in India as well as abroad.

Promotions for movies have taken on a whole new meaning with traditional channels being used effectively as well as innovative in-your-face mediums, like the hand-drawn doodle T-shirt for ‘3-Idiots’. The promotions are increasingly personalized for each movie, the way a brand is customized to appeal to its target audience. An interesting example is that of Ghajini, for which all PVR employees, right from the popcorn boys, ushers, to the ticket-counter boys sported the Ghajini hairstyle (protagonist Aamir Khan’s hairstyle in the movie) in Mumbai theaters a week before release. This created huge excitement and anticipation among cine audiences for the movie, and also ended up annoying the makers of “Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi” which released at the time. Another recent example is that of ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ where the makers published ‘Wasseypur Patrika‘, a fictitious newspaper available online, giving audiences an insight into the world of Wasseypur.

With a drastic increase in viewership of reality shows in India, it has become a must for most stars to appear as guest judges on these shows just before their decisive box-office Friday. Actors Salman Khan and Katrina recently appearedand also shook a leg at the dance reality show ‘Dance India Dance’ prior to the release of their movie ‘Ek Tha Tiger’. Another interesting example is that of the recently released movie ‘Aiyyaa’, where a popular radio station,Radio Mirchi, modified their signature jingle to sound like one of the popular songs of the movie.

Sometimes, a controversy can bring in a lot of free media coverage and create interest about the film, like the yet to release ‘Chakravyuh’. One of the songs of this movie accuses large business houses inIndia of taking advantage of the common man, which created quite a ruckus in the corporate world, resulting insome corporates even suing the film maker.

Bollywood marketing is here to stay, and though it is still at an adolescent stage, gone are the days when the merit of the film alone would prove it victorious. In the increasingly cluttered Bollywood marketing space, it is film makers who are marketing savvy, aggressive in making their presence felt (of their movie), as well as emotionally connected to people, who will emerge victorious.

This blog post has been written by Neerja Goswami, Associate Insight Consultant at Global MR, Brandscapes Worldwide. Neerja is an avid movie buff and gets a headache if she does not catch a movie every Friday.

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About Brandscapes Worldwide

Brandscapes specializes in marketing analytics and insight consulting for consumer goods, services and the retail sectors. We leverage the power of advanced data mining tools and the practical marketing and communication planning expertise to distil actionable marketing insights.
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