Kiss & Telly

In a marriage made for each other, film promotions are being integrated with soaps and serials on television

Switch on your television sets and you will be swamped with actors promoting their films on almost every TV show. Using television as a platform, promotional strategies for Hindi films are getting more innovative and creative. Thus, guest appearances by actors on song and dance reality shows are passé. A handful of stars are now invading – oops, ‘integrating’ – popular soaps. And what better way than to do it in character?

According to the FICCI-KPMG media and entertainment report 2012, India is the third largest TV market after the US and China, registering 146 million TV households. Experts reveal that television is the largest medium for media delivery in India in terms of revenue and it represents 45 per cent of the total media industry.

Here’s a different perspective: 623 TV channels are watched by people across the country every day. It’s an opportunity just begging to be exploited.

Actor-turned-producer Paresh Rawal said in a recent interview to Box Office India that he believes marketing a film at malls and multiplexes doesn’t translate into ticket sales. “Instead of going to malls and multiplexes, invest that marketing money in more traditional media like TV. Use your energy to give
interviews across news channels and place advertisements and trailers on TV.”

Thus, looking at new ways to cash in on the power of the telly, UTV promoted two of its recent releases, Barfi! and Heroine, via a slew of TV marketing gimmicks. Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra, along with debutante actor Ileana D’Cruz were seen making appearances on almost all major TV shows and interacting with their fans, to promote their film. Also, for the first time, a film integrated with three prime-time shows as part of a film promotion marathon. The Barfi! marathon ran on Zee TV on Hitler Didi, Phir Subah Hogi and Punar Vivaah, where the film’s lead actor Ranbir Kapoor chatted up the leading ladies of all three shows. Other shows included integration on Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah, Indian Idol, Comedy Circus, Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa and Dance India Dance.

The producers also ran a campaign called Cholbe Na, to promote Barfi! in the Kolkata market. The campaign sent out the message Be Sweet, Be Barfi and was done in association with the ABP Ananda group and a Barfi! news series was created in association with the TV Today group. Not surprisingly, the film was a hit in its first week.

At around the same time, UTV was busy promoting its other film Heroine. Kareena Kapoor featured on flagship fiction shows across Zee, SAB and Sony on Punar Vivaah, Taarak Mehta… and CID, respectively. Heroine’s promotions on television shows kickstarted with the finale of Indian Idol. Other reality integrations included Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, India’s Got Talent, and Dance Ke Super Kids. In fact, this was the first time she indulged in a widespread television promotions, to herald a heroine-led film.

Shikha Kapur, Executive Director – Marketing, Studios, Disney UTV says, “Today, movie marketing has reached a very interesting phase, where innovative audience engagement is necessary and TV as a platform is a medium that
delivers this engagement instantly. We have used a multi-platform strategy including television as a big chunk to build visibility through promotions and insightful PR for our recent releases such as Rowdy Rathore, Barfi! and Heroine.”

On the success of integration, Ajay Balwankar, Content Head, Hindi Channels, Zee TV mentions, “Films and television share a symbiotic relationship and an integration of this sort is mutually beneficial. Since television has the widest reach, actors choose to aggressively promote their films via this medium.”

Balwankar says that fiction shows are the new flavour of these promotions and the characters are seamlessly inked into the story lines. This enhances the recall of the film among viewers of daily soaps.

Vivek Bahl, Chief Creative Director, Sony Entertainment Television says, “It’s a win-win for both the concerned parties. Big fiction shows with a dedicated and measurable viewer base is a great platform for an actor to promote his/her upcoming film with the show. And, for the show itself, one can always create buzz and sampling with the anticipation of a star appearance.”

And its not only TV shows, celebs make a peak-a-boo appearance on cricket matches to promote their films too.

Fox Star Studios too took the television route during the release of their 3D horror flick Raaz 3 featuring Emraan Hashmi, Bipasha Basu and Esha Gupta. The actors were all over television, not just via the film’s trailers but also on shows like DID, CID and Laugh India Laugh on Life OK! channel. And ulitmately, their efforts paid off as the film went on to become a huge blockbuster.

Vivek Krishnani, Head of Distribution, Marketing and Syndication, Fox Star Studios avers, “When you want the consumer to engage with a film, you need to make sure they are acquainted with it through every possible medium. It’s like opening a hose pipe to drench people with your film rather than just a shower of a few media vehicles. TV shows are a good way to promote a film as consumers are used to watching these shows on a regular basis and this helps a film reach a larger audience in a much more effective way than most other platforms.”

And who better to know the power of television than TV czarina Ekta Kapoor, who turned the small screen into one of the biggest money-spinners after the box office. Although Kapoor has forayed into making films in a big way, her keen sense of the broadcast space has helped her tap the right audience to promote her films too. And she has an advantage. Since her soap Bade Acche Lagte Hain is a top-rated show on Sony, Kapoor effortlessly promoted her adult comedy Kyaa Super Kool Hain Hum on it. But, as Tanuj Garg, CEO, Balaji Motion Pictures, points out, “It all depends on how smartly and creatively the promotions are interspersed within the show.”

Another plus about using soaps to promote movies is that the target audience of these serials and reality shows are the smaller towns and cities. This is borne out by TRPs. Filmmakers can thus reach out to this audience without actually travelling to these places.

Now for the bitter pill: Integration doesn’t come cheap. According to Garg, for a producer, the ad spend for promoting a film on TV is one of the highest. “For some films, the largest percentage of the marketing budget is reserved for television.”

Viacom 18 Motion Pictures has back-to-back releases almost every month right up to May 2013. What does one do when they have a choc-a-bloc slate? Rudrarup Datta, Head of Marketing and Operations, Viacom 18 Motion Pictures reveals, “You need to decide which consumer you are going to target with your film. Not all films are meant for everybody. And so we need to be cautious in choosing the right delivery platform. While TV promotions are almost mandatory these days, innovation is the key to reaching the right audience.”

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