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Opposites Attract

The month of March was a study in contrasts – winner Ragini MMS 2 and runner-up Queen adopted opposite approaches and still came up trumps

Content may be the key to box-office success but an aggressive marketing strategy usually ensures the best possible collections. But ‘marketing’ is not synonymous with ‘promotional blitz’. It is crucial to adopt the right strategy and raise the curiosity quotient, to actually draw the audience to cinemas.

As we do every month, it’s time to rate the best-promoted and marketed film of previous months by speaking to the people who are the driving force behind marketing and promotions. We also spoke to distributors and exhibitors, who are best placed to judge whether production houses and marketing gurus did full justice to their films.

The month of March saw a slew of releases including Gulaab Gang, Total Siyapaa, Queen, Bewakoofiyan, W, Aankhon Dekhi, Gang Of Ghosts, Laxmi, Ragini MMS 2, O Teri, Dishkiyaaoon and Youngistaan. Judging by what tradewallahs say, the winner is Balaji Motion Pictures and their marketing team for their film Ragini MMS 2.

The success of this film, once again, proved that if a film takes a flying start, it’s half the battle won. Although low on content, the producers and distributors of this film were laughing all the way to the bank even before news went out to the audience. There was only one reason why this happened – the film took a gigantic opening thanks to aggressive marketing.

The success of Ragini MMS 2 has also proved, yet again, that if marketed well AND you have at least one super-hit song, profits are assured. In the case of Ragini MMS 2, aggressive marketing coupled with two super-hit songs drew in the audience at the very start.

Now, on to Kangana Ranaut-starrer Queen. Viacom18 Motion Pictures, reputed for going all out to market their movies, chose to do the opposite and still met with resounding success. How so? Well, instead of lavishing money on aggressive promotions, they relied largely on word of mouth. And, yes, leading lady Kangana Ranaut did go all out to promote the film.

And, just as they had assumed, the second week’s collections of Queen were almost equal to the first week’s collections. But Queen had something that Ragini MMS 2 didn’t – content. And Viacom18 knew that. The production house believed in their content and let it do the talking.

So, the number one and two films of March 2014 present a study in contrasts – Ragini MMS 2, which was low on content but was backed by aggressive marketing (Best Marketed Film of March 2014) and two super-hit songs; and Queen, which was high on content backed by an award-winning performance by Kangana Ranaut and melodious music.

Let’s find out what tradewallahs have to say about the March releases.

Kumar Taurani, Producer, Tips Industries

Ragini MMS 2 was promoted in a very innovative way because they delivered the right elements through their trailers. There was a glimpse of horror, erotica and chart-topping item songs. All these elements were marketed very uniquely, thanks to which the film took a massive opening almost at par with that of an A-lister’s film.

Anthony D’Souza, Director

Balaji flexed its marketing muscle to promote their horror offering Ragini MMS 2, and it did well at the box office too. But the real-word-of-mouth publicity happened with Queen. The filmmakers didn’t indulge too much promotion initially, but once the movie released and the content garnered rave reviews, they strengthened their marketing a great deal. Kangana Ranaut made several mall visits and event appearances after the film’s release and that only helped the film grow from strength to strength.

Ashish R Mohan, Director

A film’s marketing should reflect in a film box-office numbers. There were quite a few releases in March and many of them were marketed well. But none of them stood out as much as Ragini MMS 2 did. The film was promoted well and its music was also a huge plus. It took a great opening and that was solely due to marketing.

Atul Agnihotri, Producer

Speaking of promotions, Ekta Kapoor has always been very aggressive about marketing her films and she did the same with Ragini MMS 2. This is a horror-sex film and she promoted it exactly that way. I believe the chartbuster songs were an added advantage. On the other hand, Queen was promoted by the audience.

Sheel Kumar, Producer, JA Entertainment

Queen used audience appeal as its marketing tool. The producers were initially low on marketing but once the content shone and word-of-mouth spread, the filmmakers went all out to market it. This worked wonders and only proved that content is king.

Ajay Bahl, Director

Ragini MMS 2 was one of the best-marketed films in March. Some people assume that the film notched up those numbers solely because of Sunny Leone but, if that were true, her last film Jackpot should have also done well at the box office. Ragini MMS 2 had a strong marketing plan, where Balaji Motion Pictures made sure Sunny Leone visited several malls and cities to promote the film.

Rajesh Thadani, Multimedia Combines

The best-marketed film in March, undoubtedly, has to be Ragini MMS 2. Besides the fact that it was already in the news because Sunny Leone was the star, the producers also capitalised on the songs. They did the rounds of multiple cities to get the right amount of buzz. Thanks to the promotional strategy they adopted, the film took a great opening and did well.

GD Mehta, Bobby Arts Entertainment

March was not a very fruitful month for the film business. There were quite a few promising releases but none of them impressed movie-goers. Gulaab Gang was one of the first releases in March and despite the hype around the film and the stay order issued by the High Court, it did release but didn’t do well at the box office. Queen released during that same week but it didn’t engage in out-of-the-box publicity. They simply benefitted from the fact that the next week’s release Bewakoofiyaan fared poorly at the ticket counter, due to which Queen was allotted more screens. The only good thing about Queen’s publicity was that Kangana Ranaut kept making appearances across events to keep word-of-mouth alive. A film’s marketing usually dips from Friday onwards. But they kept the promotions of Queen going. Ragini MMS 2 did not need any marketing because of the subject and the star. Yet they did promote their film and it did well at the box office.

Debashish Dey, Aum Moviez

Ragini MMS 2 would have to be the best-marketed film in March solely because the producers bombarded every single media platform with trailers, songs and advertising. The two songs were top of the charts and were playing everywhere. Sunny Leone visited multiple cities too. I think they did a fabulous job as far as marketing was concerned. It was thus a sure-shot winner at the box office.

Sanjay Marudhar, Marudhar Enterprises

Ragini MMS 2 was the best-marketed film in March. Apart from the fact that it was a horror film with the element of erotica, the music of the film also caught on well. Nowadays, almost every other film has great music but if you don’t market it well, it goes unnoticed. The music of the film was marketed especially well, because it was played across almost every radio station and TV channel. All these factors contributed to the film’s good opening.

With Queen, content scored and marketing acted as a secondary tool, to build word of mouth. The film created a buzz since its first trailer released, post which, marketing was low-key. After the film’s first week, when it garnered a good response from cine-goers, the film’s marketing was strengthened.

Vijay Kher, N R Multimedia

Ragini MMS 2 had the best marketing strategy of all the films that released in March. The promotions were visible across all channels and the music played across all radio stations. Sunny Leone, the star of the film, also travelled to various cities and malls to promote the film. It was quite an effective campaign and ensured visibility for the film.

BH Basha, Bahar Enterprises

Queen and Ragini MMS 2 were the two films that were really promoted well in March. They did well at the box office too, which merely proves how good content bundled with the right promotional strategy can work wonders for a film’s business.

Jeetu Khandelwal, Movie Pioneers

Two films stood out in March due to their marketing as well as collections – Queen and Ragini MMS 2. While the former catered mainly to the multiplex audience, the latter did well across plexes and single-screens alike. A film’s marketing should cater to all socio economic groups – SEC A, B and C. Even if a film’s subject does not suit a certain demographic, the promotions should make sure that more and more people across society come and watch it. That’s the only way a film’s business will grow. These two films did just that. Ragini MMS 2’s first trailer might not have appealed to the family audience but the songs were a hit with almost everyone. Queen was a woman-centric film and yet the marketing catered to the entire family, not just women.

Pramod Arora, CEO, PVR Cinemas

Ragini MMS 2 was the best-marketed film in March. The advertisements were clearly targeted at the masses and the makers were spot-on due to their focused marketing. The film made no bones about the type of audience it wanted to reach out to and went after it hammer and tongs. Films like these can go wrong if they are not marketed properly but the producers did a very good job of this one. They built curiosity among viewers since the day the first trailer was launched and heightened this as the released date approached. As a result, the film took a phenomenal opening.

Harsh Jain, Exhibitor

Balaji Motion Pictures did a fabulous job of promoting their film Ragini MMS 2. The posters were unique and so were the promotions. The film released on March 21 so they promoted the film with one-liners like ‘Ek Kiss Dobaara’ then ‘Dusre Mein Zyada Mazaa Hai’, which pointed to the sequel. The songs were a double advantage for the film, which became a superhit and the film did unexpected business across India.

Manoj Desai, Exhibitor

Ragini MMS 2 was well promoted and two songs became chartbusters. Then Sunny Leone visited many cities, malls and events to promote the film. There was immense curiosity among the audience to watch her on the big screen. It all paid off when the film released and I ran three back-to-back, house-full shows on Friday.

And The Winner Is…

Tanuj Garg, CEO, Balaji Motion Pictures

We are elated that the film has done so well at the box office. From the very start, we were quite unapologetic that the film was horror with a heavy dose of the sex element. We were also unapologetic about the positioning of the film and knew that just because it was a combination of horror and sex, we shouldn’t downplay it. We knew that horror and sex is a potent combination and these films also have a distinct element that appeals to a certain target audience. We went all out to incorporate that in our promotional and PR activities.

There were quite a few challenges when we began promoting the film. The first one was that Sunny’s (Leone) previous film Jackpot hadn’t worked well at the ticket counters and so we had to make sure this one had the right buzz. Secondly, this was a franchise film and the prequel was a super success. We had to live up to expectations and the high bar that the previous film had set. In our industry, many franchise films fail to match their previous parts, so we were careful about that.

Contrary to what people think, another thing that worked in our favour was that the film was delayed. We were to hit cinema screens on October 1, 2013, and then we planned on a December release and finally the film released on March 21, 2014. I am glad we postponed the release date because that gave us so time to plan the marketing campaign better and design it from start to end. It was a solo release so it was in the focus of movie-goers. I think the collections of the film proved that it is a cricket-proof film too, because some of the films that released during this time took a hit due to the ongoing cricket matches. Ragini MMS 2 emerged winner despite the matches. And that’s really testimony to how content takes over marketing. Usually, a film’s robust marketing ensures that there are adequate footfalls from Friday evening but it was due to the content that even Friday morning shows experienced very healthy footfalls.

It is quite a challenge to make this kind of movies work and I am glad we have set a new precedent with this film.

Content Rules
Rudrarup Datta, Head of Marketing, Viacom18 Motion Pictures

Queen once again proves that it’s not how much is spent on marketing; it’s HOW it is spent. As a story, Queen had us excited since the day we heard the script. Hats off to Vikas (Bahl) for translating it so beautifully on screen and Kangana for making ‘Rani’ so memorable. The objective of the campaign was to build ambient curiosity about Queen and a positive vibe during the pre-phase. We knew that no amount of advertising would match up to the actual experience of this little gem.

We adopted the classical ‘endorsement’ approach and upped our marketing push around the release of the film led through celebrity as well as consumer endorsement. Queen had disproportionate spends in the period immediately following the release to enhance the positive word-of-mouth blended with interesting activities like ‘Kangana’s club hop’ and ‘Happy Queen’s Day’ in multiplexes.

Special thanks to the Phantom team for their fantastic support. At Viacom18 Motion Pictures, we can proudly say we have yet another cliché-breaker in our stable.

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