You won’t see your favourite stars promoting their films in colleges, malls or any other public place any time soon. But you can catch them online — which is where all the action has been happening, at least for the last few months. The pandemic, apart from shutting down theatres, also saw filmmakers lining up for a release on OTT platforms, But how do you reach out to the fans, the public, and ensure that the buzz around the film is maximum?
Varun Gupta, who has been the man behind marketing of several big films such as Saaho and Padman, says that the budgets for marketing have already been slashed by more than 50%.
“Stars are also not mobile in this situation. Vidya Balan was one of the few who stepped out in her own way to market Shakuntala Devi, the only film till now for which I saw some kind of marketing budget. They had different association videos, and didn’t stick to interviews,” he says.
Gupta feels that innovation is the key to raising buzz, and interviews only inform, they don’t excite. “I also don’t blame the web platforms, as for them it’s not about first day opening, but sustenance. No matter how much buzz we create, if the reviews aren’t good, people won’t watch it. Eventually, it’s about recommendation, not marketing. Also, now these platforms take the marketing decisions, not the production house,” he adds.
The kind of innovations aren’t restricted to just putting out a poster or trailer on social media. It’s more about creating something which will keep the viewers curious.
Aparna Acharekar, programming Head, Zee5 India, says, “The medium has changed. When a film releases normally, you promote on reality shows, or do press conference and visit public places. Also, now that the kids are not in colleges, where are they? Their phones, so you are where the consumer is.”
Citing the example of how Yaara was e-promoted, she shares, “Digital was the mainstay, whether social media, or a press conference on zoom, interaction with artistes etc. But we also had a Twitter watch party, both for Yaara and Chintu Ka Birthday. It’s a live experience, where people can watch the film together with the stars of the film live on video call. It’s almost like being in a theatre! Then the poster of Yaara became popular. It’s a story of four friends, so we asked people to send us their pics with their friends, and we would send them back as a poster.”
For Dil Bechara, music composer AR Rahman held a virtual music concert, which had the singers of the film’s songs sing them from their homes. It was a tribute to the film’s actor, late Sushant Singh Rajput.
From a filmmaker’s point of view, Anand Pandit — who is bankrolling The Big Bull starring Abhishek Bachchan — says, the absence of physical promotions won’t affect the film’s prospects.
“We’ve to change with the times. Electronic and social media are so powerful. I believe whether the film goes on an OTT platform or the box office, social media and e-promotions are going to be key. For the producer’s satisfaction, one-two interviews do happen, but I don’t think that’s going to convert into eyeballs,” explains Pandit.
A source at Hotstar tells us that even on social media, the specific buzz generator is the actors’ fan clubs.
“Social media is the big thing where a lot of engagement with the consumer is happening. We see the actor’s fan following, especially their fan clubs. They play a big role. We sometimes get in touch with their owners and go about promoting a project too,” the source informs.
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