The Bollywood Marketing Brandwagon

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on December 20, 2012

The Birth of Indian film industry or Bollywood as it is popularly known can be traced to 1913 with Dadasaheb Phalke’s first silent feature film. Since then till date the industry has gone through a rollercoaster ride. The costumes have changed, the stories have more or less changed, the actors have changed, but the most important change that the industry has witnessed is the emergence of marketing and branding.


It is not as new as we think it to be, it can be traced to the era of Kishore Kumar where in a scene he is seen holding a bottle of Coca cola for his actress.  Though in infancy stage brands started getting noticed and the audience started consuming them, giving the makers and marketers a new area of business. This trend was followed by similar brand placements in many movies where the lead was shown using the product, like in the classic comedy Chachi 420 Kamal Hasan derives his name “Laxmi “from the brand Lux .

This was followed by a phase which has reached its peak today, the phase of intelligent brand placements, which movies like Rang De Basanti portrayed by imbibing the brands like Coca Cola with the theme of the movie rather than just making the lead use the brand.

Now let’s have a look at the best and the worst of it. The worst brand placements can be credited to Subhas Ghai’s “Yaadein”. The only reason being, that the movie was filled with brands and not placed with it. Every scene had a brand staring at you and still made no sense; even a scene where someone’s dying had a brand placed in it. From songs to drama everything was wrapped in the brand wrapper and it fell on its face. On the other hand Karan Johar’s Kuch Kuch Hota hai had around 100 brands placements in the movie but all well placed and intelligently weaved in the story.

It should be noted that brand placements have now become an integral part of bollywood movies , to an extent that more than half of the movie's budget is recovered from such placements.Also with actors associating themselves with certain brands as brand ambassadors, it becomes easier for the producers to get a brand on board. Be it Priyanka chopra and Sunsilk in the movie Fashion to Reebok shoes of Shahrukh khan in My Name is khan, brands have made their presence felt.

Another aspect which needs special mention is the whole marketing strategy that is planned for a movie. This is a recent phenomenon, the birth of which can be credited to Mr.Amir Khan. Movie marketing in bollywood since has taken a huge jump with all major releases chalking out a whole marketing plan which includes activations, integrations, and events to promote the movie before 'The Friday '. The whole plan is based on the communication that a movie wants to make with its target audience .And with more multiplexes opening up, and even more number of releases in a week, the competition is getting stiffer and nerve wrecking. Though it seems easy, marketing a movie can be a nightmare since it can go overboard and the best example of this was Shahrukh Khan's RA.ONE which had an enormous marketing budget and which is considered to be the best marketed movie by some.Yet the box office results of the same paint a different story. Shahrukh Khan went everywhere and did everything he could to promote the movie and create a buzz, which resulted in taking the audience's expectations to a height which apparently did not match the product. The movie failed to deliver what the marketing communicated. From merchandising to online games to appearances in all reality shows possible, the movie made its presence felt every one but still it didn’t because the marketing and the movie communicated different things.

Its not only big budgets carrying out marketing gimmicks to get noticed , even smaller films are increasingly jumping on to the bandwagon to get a share of attention and profits. The best example being recent Kahaani , which being a low budget movie stood out due to a unique and cost effective strategy. Missing posters all over the city and the main lead Vidya Balan visiting all shows to search her missing husband not only made the audience sit back and notice, but also generated a curiosity about Arnab Bagchi which was in lines with the script of the movie.

To conclude, I would like to add that in the age of technology and volatile and impulsive decisions, marketing plays an important role.  In film brand placements and marketing have become an integral part of bollywood.

This article has been authored by Manali Balsara from Prin.L.N Welingkar Institute Of Management.

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