Rahul Puri, MD, Mukta A2 Cinemas talks about brands and large corporates using Bollywood effectively to reach out to a broader target group through brand associations
With many Bollywood actors breaking into Hollywood, Bollywood is moving towards the reputation of a global brand capable of reaching out to billions. With production of over 250 films a year, Bollywood is nothing less than an exemplary phenomenon in the entertainment sector. From captivating music to incredible outfits which then go on to become a rage, to stars who have implausible social pull, Bollywood is seamlessly intertwined with our lives. So when it comes to brand communication, Bollywood is unarguably one of the most efficient mediums one can turn to and evidently brands have embraced the extraordinary advantages of this tool. Brand associations in films have become rampant and are easily recognizable. Bollywood in itself is the message and a medium, so it’s only explanatory why brands and companies efficiently turn towards movies for smoother brand communication.
Brands and large corporates have piggy-backed on Bollywood to reach out to a broader target group. From brand collaboration to product placements, brands are exploring an array of opportunities to communicate across demographics. While big Hindi movies have as many as 15-20 brand associations, Hollywood movies are also joining hands with Indian companies for promotional associations.
Typically, brands engage in promotional activities wherein they utilize and involve the characters of the movie, which publicizes them, saving on the marketing budget. Most films now have a different budget for marketing and promotional activities in association with various partners which further fortifies the fact that brand associations have become important from the production phase. Tie-ups with known brands help films get better and wider publicity. While we don’t question the effectiveness of films as a means of brand communication, the real question is how effective are films to reach out to the customers, especially because it’s a rare probability to get noticed in the movie within a fraction of a second? Do the results meet the brand’s expectations or is it overhyped?
Let’s look at it objectively: For instance in PK, maximum brands like Cycle Agarbatti, Maruti cars, Hero Cycles, etc, managed to establish a great recall value, and the movie went on to become the highest grossing film in 2015 which was an added advantage. Amul, which was associated with the biopic Bhaag Milkha Bhaag leveraged the fact that Milkha Singh ran his first cross-country race to get a glass of milk, which was extremely impactful.
According to a report, in 2013-14, brands spent a whopping Rs 350 crore on film branding and this is expected to grow by 15-20% every year. Some brands opt for barter deals where instead of a monetary exchange between the brand and the makers of the movie, they choose to integrate movie clips in their advertising campaigns, thus saving on promotional spends. Brands have learnt to explore all aspects of their association with films, from various media platforms, to product packaging, distribution and retail. These attempts are not always successful. An example of branding gone unnoticed was when a pipe brand spent a huge sum of money for one scene in Dabangg 2.
More than a trend, it’s become a necessity today. Successful film collaborations have always proven to be a smart apparatus for brand promotion. TVCs and individual celebrity endorsements don’t cost any less and there is not much room left to experiment. This branding–movie relation has reached a point where both are interdependent for success.
I believe that if done well, film branding is one of the most cost-effective ways of reaching out to the target audience. As Martin Scorcese rightly said, “Cinema is a matter of what's in the frame and what's out.” And being in the right frame could take a brand places.