There isn’t anyone quite like Rajinikanth. A demi-god to half the nation, a superhero to the rest and a flamboyant icon across seas, this legendary Tamil actor needs no introduction to the masses, who have developed a cult following in his name. July 22 has been circled on many calendars, not because it’s a loved one’s birthday or a religious festival, but because it marks Rajini’s new release, Kabali.
As fans across the country wait with barely concealed patience for this upcoming release, brands across the country have learned to monetise on the almost spiritual adoration shown towards their ‘Thalaivar’, a name lovingly dedicated to Rajini. According to the official producer of the film, V Creations, promoted by S. Thanu, Kabali has associated with at least six top brands which include AirAsia, Cadbury, 5 Star, Amazon, ShopCJ and Airtel. Needless to say, these brands have been quick to capitalise on the demands of an eager market by promoting their individual services and products in association with the much-awaited film.
AirAsia, the official airline partner for the movie, has announced an exclusive 'Fly like a Superstar' offer for its passengers to any destinations from Delhi or Bengaluru, according to Business Standard. The same article states that AirAsia India is contemplating painting the exterior of its aircrafts on the Chennai-Bengaluru route with a huge Kabali banner. The airline is also set to offer a special package for all Rajinikanth fans flying from Bengaluru to Chennai on the movie’s first day, which will include a ‘Kabali meal’ containing all of Rajini’s favourite food. Sources state that 5Star is planning on launching special ‘Kabali packets’ as part of its marketing campaign. Airtel, on the other hand, will have holographic projection vans atop which Rajini himself will address his fans. These will also air trailers and scenes from popular Rajinikanth movies, including his latest.
This isn’t the first time that brands have clamoured to tie up with Rajinikanth’s hit-movies to promote themselves, because they realise that no one in the industry garners as much of a hype or following as him. Kabali, made with a budget of INR 80-100 crore, is only the third-highest Rajini-starrer after Robot, which was valued at INR 200 crore, and Kochadaiiyaan, which was valued at INR 125 crore. According to D. Paranthaman, CEO of V Creations, the plan is to launch 3D posters, T-shirts and other merchandise in the run-up to the film to build hype – a strategy used for almost every Rajini-starrer.
Recently, the ‘Rajini-fever’ has spread to the smaller businesses and startups as well. They too are publicly associating themselves with Kabali’s release. In the process, they are promoting themselves significantly. For instance, Oyethere.com, a hyperlocal delivery website has booked two Inox screens for Kabali, a tradition they have followed since 2007, where they book halls for other Rajini-starrers like Kuselan and Enthiranand Lingaa. This time around, they have decided to promote themselves by extending the offer to customers and staff as well. As stated in The Economic Times, Founder S. Shriram said, “Starting tomorrow, people who shop with us will get confirmed movie tickets for July 23 or 24. All my employees will be taken for the Sunday show with their families.”
Similarly, the 35-member team at TheSocialPeople plans to throw a Rajinikanth-themed costume party a day before the release of the film. To top this, the next day, which is the day of the release, has been declared a holiday. The CEO of software product company Orangescape, Suresh Sambandan, has mostly declared a company holiday for the day aiming for 100 tickets for the 6 am show on Friday. Faintain Sports, a fan relationship management startup, has dedicated its analytics engine to come up with 'Kabali sentiment', an infographic on the mood of the people around the movie. In addition to this, they are holding contests among the employees and while the winner receives four tickets to the movie, the runner-up gets two.
GoBumpr, a vehicle-service startup, has been running a social media campaign to 'Kabali-fy your car or vehicle'. According to Sundar Nateshan, Co-founder of GoBumpr, “The idea is to spread the message that if good care is given to your vehicle, it can be like the superstar who maintains his charisma even at the age of 65.” The ‘Kabali rage’ is doing best in startups which deal in merchandise. For instance, CoverItUp has declared that Kabali t-shirts have been sold-out already. Filmify, a film news content curation platform, which launched its news content curation on the same day as Kabali’s teaser-trailer, is also promoting FDFS t-shirts.
And finally, 'Muthoot Fincorp', the non-banking finance company, has introduced Kabali silver coins. It has put the face image of Rajinikanth from the upcoming film embossed on silver coins.
Rajinikanth could be deemed the original trend-setter and as the nation waits for Kabali, startups and businesses scamper forth to take advantage of his fandom and reign in the big bucks.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)