Innovation fuels Bollywood's publicity drive...

By Priyanka Khanna, IANS

imageNew Delhi, June 19 (IANS) Marketing and publicity campaigns of Bollywood films have come of age. As television promos and larger-than-life posters become passé, Bollywood laps up the latest buzzword - Innovation.

"The audience of today have a limited attention span. A movie has to make an impact on the first day of release. Its fortune is decided in three-four days," says Tarun Tripathi, the marketing head of Yashraj Films.

Tarun had head the marketing of "Hum Tum", another Rani Mukherjee-starrer, for the same banner. The film co-starring Saif Ali Khan, essaying the role of a cartoonist, was accompanied by unique promotional stunts - a comic strip in a popular English daily, a tie-up with a chip brand, and an appearance in the popular soap "Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin".

According to reports, while a producer would ideally invest 10-15 percent of the total production budget on marketing and promotions, there are increasing incidents where it is getting stretched to 20-25 percent.

Here is a string of some such 'innovative' eyeball-grabbing strategies:

Body beautiful Mallika Sherawat sold tickets of her latest flick "Bachke Rehna Re Baba" at a theatre in the national capital.

Actors Abhishek Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee played pranks on unsuspecting victims on popular MTV channel show "Bakra" to promote "Bunty Aur Babli" in which they play cons.

The petite Urmila Matondkar shared her supernatural experiences on Sony TV's horror series "Aahat" before the release of her spine-chiller "Naina."

Stripping parties (that did not go the whole hog) were thrown at major pubs in Mumbai by the makers of "Oops" - a movie based on male strippers.

Well, though these were just a few of the truly innovative ways of movie-promotion that filmmakers and producers are adopting these days, the age-old practice of throwing in a cameo by a hot star is still going strong.

"Kaal" had Shah Rukh Khan pirouetting with the ever-hot Malaika Arora Khan. The film, otherwise trashed by the audience, benefitted hugely from Khan's item number.

King Khan also appears as a storyteller in the new release "Silsiilay" by journalist-turned-filmmaker Khalid Mohamed, though the movie's promos fail to highlight this.

Shah Rukh will be seen again in a 'ghostly' cameo in his home production "Paheli." The promos of this Amol Palekar film are promoting his presence heavily.

Taking things to another extreme are films that are a product of market research. B-School dean-turned-film producer Arindam Chaudhuri's "Rok Sako To Rok Lo" was made after thorough research, but sank without a trace.

No amount of good marketing, however, can replace the importance of content. "Often marketing and publicity campaigns backfire as the success of a film depends on how the audience accepts it," maintain trade analysts.


There are no holds barred in innovation, and Bollywood has probably gathered this lesson well, and profitably too. Tying up with corporate houses is the latest way to rake in the moolah.

The launch of Maruti's swanky new automobile Swift, was timed with the release of "Bunty Aur Babli", and Maruti left no stone unturned to promote the vehicle. This is considered by many as a quantum leap from the strategic product placements in films that Bollywood is so very used to.

Apparently the makers of the Sanjay Dutt-starrer "Plan" pocketed a net Rs.45 million for promoting Radico Khaitan's 8PM whisky. It's no surprise then that the liquor brand was on top of consumers' mind for a good six months after the movie's release.

Reports say Yash Raj Films' senior marketing executive Tarun Tripathi invested only 10-12 percent of the total production cost of "Hum Tum" on marketing and publicity. Some free-of-cost deals got the movie free publicity worth 30-35 percent of its budget.

With such win-win situations for both the producers and the brands, we're sure to see more of such tie-ups in future.


While we're going whole hog focussing on careful and planned publicity strategies, why leave out publicity stunts?

If a Tom Cruise can kiss a Katie Holmes in full public view just before the release of a movie starring the two, and a Brad Pitt and Angeline Jolie reportedly develop an intense relationship on the sets of "Mr. and Mrs. Smith", do you think dear ol' Bollywood would be far behind in garnering the fruits of publicity gimmicks?

The very graphic Kareena Kapoor-Shahid Kapur lip-lock, movie clips of Ashmit Patel with Riya Sen or threatening calls from underworld dons to Ram Gopal Varma are all being looked upon as attempts to get that extra mileage for their films, or in some cases, media attention to sinking careers.

But hey, everything is fair in love and war!